Last week I told you about how I ran into a great big Punjabi family back home in India. Now, if I’d stayed on in Delhi after my birth, these family members and everything around them would have been regular for me. But, as it happens, I left the country when I was a month old because my parents are settled outside India. You see, I am an NRI baby.
So what happens when an NRI baby travels back to India?
For one, you are treated as a fragile thing. The RO water that everyone drinks was not good enough for me. I rolled my eyes when
I saw my Mum further boiling and cooling the water for my consumption. Delhi’s notorious pollution worried my parents. While I frolicked across the dusty floors of the house, marvelling at the way my hands would turn black, the maid would be set to the task of sweeping and mopping twice a day to cater to my delicate knees and hands.
Even before we arrived in Delhi, my Mum had rented certain baby items for me from an online portal. So, a baby cot, a high-chair and a baby pot had already been lingering in the house for a few days when we landed. I must have seemed like a high-maintenance kid to all! They moved me between the air-conditioned drawing room and the air-conditioned bedroom. If we ever had to step out, an air-conditioned cab was called right up to the doorway of the house.
While I enjoyed being treated like a prince, I did muse at how NRI kids are managed when they return to India. I heard about a cousin of mine, who had been visiting from the US and who had even been bathed in mineral water! Despite that, my uncle reported, she had fallen sick with an upset tummy. I too fell sick! I got a blocked nose, a cold and ran high temperatures. But hey, that happens when you travel.
My Mum and Dad got sick too. Apparently, they fall sick every time they travel to Delhi. But that doesn’t stop them from going home to their family and friends. So no matter how delicate we actually are and how much more delicately we are treated, nothing compares to returning to the warm arms of a big, loving family. Going back to one’s roots, to one’s near and distant relatives and one’s own culture and traditions- it is an incomparable feeling.
Talking of traditions, NRI or not, a baby gets his fair share of participating in traditional ceremonies. When I had travelled to Dubai to meet my Mum’s parents a couple of months ago, they had put me through an annprashan ceremony. On this visit to India, my Papa’s parents decided it was their turn. As a result, I was put through a mundan ceremony. For those of you who don’t know what that is, I lost all my hair at the tender age of nine months!
Heart-breaking as that was, it is a story that deserves to be told. So I’ll be back next week to narrate the tale of my heart-wrenching separation from my beloved hair. See you then.
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Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.