Empty Nest Honeymoon
Australia and Pradesh, India
Our youngest had flown from our nest, to try life on her own terms, leaving us, alone, together, for the first time, since before the children; and now, since Lal’s retirement, we’d managed to argue constantly, getting on each other’s raw nerves, because he’d never spent so much time home before.
So, I escaped to my sister Anila’s, for a break from him being forever under my foot, walking behind me, throughout my house and gardens; criticizing—but no, he calls it “being helpful,” to “help” me “streamline” my workload, etcetera, as if, after the many years of birthing and caring for his children and of his many short notices—.
“Didn’t I tell you? We’re to be having a business dinner party in three hours. I must have told you, Asha. Just unthaw something, do your magic, and put on a nice dress. No wait! Wear the dark purple sari—you look so very lovely and regal—.”
I could have, should have killed Lal many times, justifiably. And a jury of twelve tired wives would free me. Tiresome man.
* * * *
Our eldest and middlemost child, surprisingly, met me at Anila’s.
“What are you children doing here?” They answered, as those two often do, together.
“Well, Mum. We put our heads together….”
“And our money, and got you this.”
It was a travel package, with tickets for flights and hotel; a very good hotel; and all of it First Class.
“In case,” they said, “If you get tired of the old relations and friends back there.”
“Or just want a break from them draggin’ you to every ancient temple tourist trap or overcrowded wedding ‘carnival’ they can.”
Well, yes, it can be a bit like that, the children have gone with us a few times, back to lovely Uttar Pradesh province. They’d not loved it as much as I’d hoped.
“Too hot. Too crowded. Too noisy.” All true. And all the “babbling in tongues” and all that “overkill” in scents and color and the like; and of everyone there saying:
“How lovely, your children are so Australian!” Turning always to, “How unfortunate, your children are so Australian.” They’re good, industrious, and clever; my children. I reexamined the travel packet.
“What of your father? This is but for one to travel.”
And they told me their siblings were home just then, giving a different packet to their father, so we’d both travel India, separately, on holiday almost together, but not. India is a great-sized place, with one billion of people. And none of them would be their father, under my foot, “helping.”
I kissed them profusely, said, as a good mother should, said they “shouldn’t have,” without ever giving back the packet.
* * * *
And it was glorious my little holiday!
Seeing, again, the exquisite Taj Mahal and other unique sites, and all were surprised that Lal hadn’t returned with me, that he’d messaged to say he was coming, alone. And all their knowing nods, in answer to this news! But, I’d say, “Thank you, for the hospitality; but my sweet children have arranged a fine suite of rooms for me.”
And I had Room Services and Massages and all sorts of wonderful things Lal never lets me have when we travel together.
But, I began to miss him, and soon the tiniest of things would remind me of him, or I’d turn to say, “Lal, look at this fine tailoring….” Until recalling that he wasn’t with me, but somewhere, perhaps very near, perhaps quite far, on his own journey.
I phoned the children to ask where their father was, and they laughed, madly, saying, “Dad called, too, and asked the same thing, but telling’d ruin the game.” What “game?” And they wouldn’t say more. Bad children.
* * * *
I oddly began barely seeing him, always just a glimpse, and then he’d be gone. And yesterday, I’d seen him and called aloud, and he’d looked about, and I’d waved furiously, remaining unseen, as so such thick traffic passed between us, and I’d found him gone.
Then, the “messages” began, but not written notes, but spirit signs, such as a lone flower in a specific color, meaning so much to us. Purple camellias. When my Lal and I’d met the very first time, by family arrangement, we’d hated each other, with nothing obvious in common. But my late, older sister had secretly made purple camellias of scented paper, when the flower market had none, and she’d placed them all about our family parlor, and when she’d told us “to enter the parlor from opposite doors, at the same time….”
I love camellias, Lal loves purple, and she’d put the two together, and us as well.
And now, I kept missing my dearest Lal, in all ways; sitting at dinner, alone, in the hotel restaurant, loving couples all around, and could not eat for crying, until I heard his rich voice.
“Is this seat taken, my lovely Asha?”
We ate and talked of our “bad” children sending us around in circles of each other, until sitting at table wasn’t close enough. And when we entered my First Class hotel suite, that our children had had filled with live purple camellias, scenting our way, we hurried to our long-postponed second honeymoon lover’s night; me first and he following close to my heels, under my foot.