Rhea loved her bread plain, no sauce , jam or marmalade. Sometimes with butter or a slice of cheese maybe. And Raj loved his bread with a generous helping of jam or sauce.
“We are like chalk and cheese” she exclaimed, “this ain’t working”. Raj was not one to give up. He won her over eventually and came up with a unique way to propose her. A piece of white bread just as she liked it, and a little red heart carved out with some ketchup. “Whats life without a dash of colour?” his trademark dimpled smile was one that was sure to melt the coldest of hearts.
They got hitched 2 years later and moved to US when he got a splendid opportunity. 5 years and 2 kids later, life seemed to be on track. But here’s the thing with a detour, you never know its coming.
A frantic call from home, amma’s fracture and Rhea had to rush home to Kerala. “Leave the kids behind, I will manage ” said Raj. ” You can focus on amma’s recovery”.
She flew to India in a week, not knowing what was in store.
It was March 2020.
The PM announced a lockdown.
The next 2 months were a nightmare.
Worse was yet to come.
President Trump announced the curb on H1B visas in June and she couldn’t get her visa stamped to return back home. The lockdown would ease down, flights would resume some day but the stamp on her visa seemed a distant possibility now.
The kids were getting restless without her and Raj was feeling the toll, having to manage his work and the kids.
She had stayed strong too long, the floodgates burst and she couldn’t hold them back. It was her younger girl’s birthday and the first one without her.
As they spoke on skype and celebrated a virtual birthday , the kids had a return gift for Mommy. They signalled amma who was also on the call and she brought a plate with a slice of bread and a little heart of sauce and placed it in front of Rhea.
“We will make it through, just like we always did, some dreadfully plain days but the dash of colour is what makes them joyful and we shall get through this”. She touched the screen and blew a kiss. The mist in her mind had cleared now and she relished her slice of bread, when had food last felt so good?
(Note- Dedicated to all those who are stranded in India, away from their loved ones. I read a few moving stories of people who had come to India before the lockdown to attend to family matters and find themselves stuck here, unable to return, not just due to the lockdown restrictions which will ease some day but the draconian rules on H1B visas that were announced a few days back)
Linking this post to Fiction Monday hosted by Vineeta, photo credit Shilpa Gupte.