Saturday 23 rd. August 1969, a day to remember, forever. They waved me off to my new life in Glasgow. My mum and the whole family. Tears glistened in their eyes, mine filled with tears and a nervous chill spread across my spine as I settled into the Air – India seat. The Maharaja beamed down from the cabin décor, that smile gave me little succour.
Glasgow? You mean your husband is working Glaxo in Calcutta.
No, No. Glasgow in Scotland
The brows furrowed heavily.
Well near London, Scotch whiskey.
Ah well! Scotch, why didn’t say. Everyone knows that! Where is that again? Very far from London, right?
Those were the reactions when I left for Glasgow, from friends. What did I know about Glasgow? Very little. I tried to read up but try as I might there was little to help me visualise this beautiful city. Those were the days before the internet, smart phones or Google.
It was my mum’s face, her tears and her love that was etched in my heart. Those hectic days when she tried to get everything possible in the suitcases and the ‘unaccompanied’ luggage with clothes, every spice, condiment, my favourite sweets that she could possibly pack was stuffed in there. All wrapped tight with her love. Did I realise how much pain she was going through?
Seeing a child off to a faraway country is heart breaking. The three minute phone calls costing £1 a minute were a luxury that one could not indulge in often, in 1969. My parents made all the effort, visited me whenever they could, and helped me to settle in the new country. But those three thousand miles across the ocean was not easy to bridge. Yet, Glasgow eventually became my home from home. The two homes I cherish now. One, my birth city of Madras (it will always be Madras to me, not Chennai) and Glasgow, my home in which I have stayed twice as long as in the city where I was born.
Well, it has come full circle. My only child is now living in another continent. Yes, we have Facetime, Skype, cheap phone calls, none of which my mum had. Friends say ‘She is only a plane trip away.’ Short visits at Christmas or a summer break. Each year, as one gets older, the parting gets harder.
You want their happiness and you smile through your tears.
I understand it more now, my mum’s sweet smile with the pain in her eyes.
Leela Soma, July, 2016