As parents, we wanted to give the best education to our son, and so from his middle school onwards we started planning for his education in the USA.
There was a debate in our family whether to send him after 12th or after graduation, so we hired an education consultant and based on their suggestions and after contemplating with the family we decided to send him after his 12th Grade. He got into a top 10 undergraduate business school. He was so happy; finally all his efforts had paid off. We went to drop him off at his college. He was looking forward to the classes and the challenges ahead. Luckily he also got a roomie from Mumbai who was a friend of his friend. We were super excited and happy on our wise decision that this was the right age for him to adapt to the American way of life and culture.
We helped him settle in his new hostel room. My wife and I had done our job, it was time to reflect and give a pat on our back. And it was also time for the first goodbye. On the day we had to leave he had an orientation so we went to his orientation centre and he came out to bid us goodbye. I gave him a warm hug; I think this was by far the longest hug I must have ever given. I too wanted to cry, but fathers are always tough, right? At least we have to show that we are. Coming back while waiting at the airport, my wife couldn’t control her tears. It only stopped when we were about to board the flight. After being seated in the flight, the reality sunk in and she tried to be normal. Outwardly she showed that she was ok, but deep inside a permanent vacuum was created which only I knew.
When we came home, I really missed him so badly. Time and again I would visit his room, just to feel his presence. The entire room came alive with his memories, the books which he read, the clothes which he wore, his favourite perfume that lingered in the air, all of it made my eyes moist. I could visualise him sitting on his chair with hands firmly clasped on his study desk and legs continuously shaking. He had this peculiar habit of pulling back his jet black thick wavy hair in one swipe time and again. Just recollecting those images made me smile. He also had a favourite pillow. Till date, whenever my wife misses him a lot, she seeks comfort by just holding that pillow close to her heart.
After this he came back home for Christmas and summer breaks couple of times. Each stay would be for a few weeks. The first few days for him would go in adjusting to his sleep patterns. He would cherish the home made food and eat to his heart’s content. Just as things would finally settle down it would be time again for him to pull the bags and fly off. With each visit we saw him transform. From a carefree teenager he had evolved into a responsible young adult. The boy who shared each and every moment of his day with us was now a little bit reserved in discussing his college life. The boy who used to barge in to our rooms time and again was now mostly in his room firmly locked from inside.
When he was a kid, we had just short questions and he would answer in length, now we would question in length and he had to the point answers. From a boy who sang Arijit singh songs in his melodious voice was now mostly found with his air pods plugged in his ears. From an innocent child who would take our advice in all small matters was now advising me on my financial planning. From a boy whose career we planned meticulously, was now suggesting on my early retirement. The only constant was that he could still make you smile with his pranks or his funny anecdotes.
As parents we crave for his company and want to spend each and every moment with him, but how time flies and in a blink of an eye child grows up. Whatever time we could spend with him, we tried to make the best of it. Each time he came home, we felt ecstatic but deep down we knew it was temporary happiness. It would be time again for goodbye.
He is now in his final year of graduation and in June 2022 he will graduate. He already has a job offer and will have to join immediately after his graduation. We shall never be able to stay together under one roof forever. Either we would be visiting him or he would be visiting us, either way it would be followed by more goodbyes. With each goodbye some part of me would die. It has now become a ritual, every time he leaves, my wife cries openly and I reassure her that it’s only a question of few months and we will see him again. I too feel sad and sometimes I go into the bathroom and cry silently. I rush to my office and try to get involved in my work so temporarily I can forget his absence. The first few days after he leaves are really difficult but after a few face time video calls, we know that he will keep on moving and we need to keep saying our goodbyes.
For all parents whose children leave will have to acknowledge the fact that we are making them future ready and for our selfishness we shouldn’t keep them physically bonded with us forever. It is their destiny which they shall find on their own. The hard truth is that life will feel different without them. There is a certain energy which is gone no matter how many family people reside in there. The only way to overcome is to set some goals, get busy in work and patiently wait till we meet again. What else can we do?