Once upon a time, Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi President, Javier Perez De Cuellar the UN General Secretary and Deportivo de La Coruna, a popular Spanish football team.
Until then, ours was a ‘normal’ Middle East – Indian family of the 80’s. The men worked there and the children and women moved back home. An annual 2 month summer holiday, spent in our ‘gaon’ or ‘muluk’ as it was referred to; brought the family together. Hailing from Maharashtra’s Konkan region, this meant being in the midst of an Alphonso mango Disneyland by the Arabian Sea.
Then one August afternoon in 1990, a friend called … ‘Iraq had invaded Kuwait’.
As a teenager, I wasn’t sure how to process this, its consequences and more importantly what to tell Maa. For here was a woman, who had sacrificed an important part of a good life she had for her children and building the orchards.
After that ding dang ding … din bane hafte, hafte mahine … as we waited for updates on the evacuation.
Then one October night, the doorbell rang around 2am. My dad walked in … not like someone who had lost everything he had worked for in the last 4 decades, but as a regular 57 year old dad of the 80s would have after a long day at work. Devoid of any emotion or sense of loss or even that he was glad to have made the long journey back home. He just asked for a glass of water and went to his room.
But that’s not the story ka ‘the end’. It was the beginning of one that would go on for the next 25 years. My folks not only rebuild their lives from scratch, but also a beautiful orchard of over 700 trees and a reputation of growing some of the best mangoes in the region.
After 57 years of marriage, they now lie buried besides each other, enjoying the cool river breeze facing the respective villages of their birth, back in the Mitti they came from.
Now that I understand life better, their sheer resilience, determination and grit helps me understand people who grow food and live off the land better. … and yeah, back in the 80s, we just thought it was cool to be able to pronounce Javier Perez De Cuellar, Boutros Boutros Ghali and Deportivo De La Coruna.
… To Be Contd.