We are going to meet in Delhi where we will spend the night, setting out tomorrow for Mumbai.
In an almost unprecedented event, we have left Moy Moy at home and we are going to travel to the same place.
We never do this. We plan our schedules meticulously to ensure that one of us is always at home. Very occasionally, if one is traveling, the other might have to make an emergency trip out of town. Our team of stalwarts swings into action – Sunita moves into our house, bringing her own daughter along for company. Naina works extra hours. Vikram and Sarita stay close at hand. Sebastian, Shaila, Sumita are all on call.
We race off and we hurry back. We can only justify it for work or a medical emergency. Never for pleasure, never for a holiday. That’s just the way it is. We are used to it. I’m not complaining.
But every now and then, we get all daring and brave and we do something together. I can count the occasions on one hand. This is a big one. Ravi is IIT Mumbai’s Distinguished Alumnus this year (!!!!) and I want to be there for the ceremony.
We are “sort of” traveling together. We are on different flights because I am one of those ultra-cautious parents who worries about both of us dying at the same time. I know the odds are very low that it would happen, but the odds of two different flights both coming down together are even lower.
Ravi doesn’t think this way (which is why he is an IIT Distinguished Alumnus and I am not). But he understands that I do. It is one of the necessities I live by – an urgent and ever-present awareness of mortality. It concentrates the mind wonderfully.
We are privileged and imprisoned simultaneously by our fierce love for our children. When all three were small, I felt the same way about all of them. Now that Anand and Cathleen are grown up and on their own, I can admit that they will survive if I die. With Moy Moy, it’s more difficult.
Of course, she will survive, and I know that rationally, I know it scientifically, I know it the way any IIT grad could explain it. But I don’t know it as her mother. It hasn’t hit me in the bones or the heart or the knees yet.
Love, you shall perfect for me this child
Whose small imperfect limits would keep breaking:
Within new limits now, arrange the world
And square the circle: four walls and a ring. (Seamus Heaney)
I make these ridiculously complicated itineraries. I hedge her round with backups for backups for backups. Love is not perfect. Love is not safe. Arrange the world. Square the circle. Two flights. One love.