“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.
After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, an immigration officer asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?”
“Two years ago.”
“How long did your spouse stay with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs.
His wife greeted him with a big hug and a bouquet of multi-color roses as he came out of the immigration area. She was wearing red top and tight fitted light blue jeans.
“How was your flight?” Her voice full of excitement.
“It was okay,… long!”
“Finally! You are here!!”
He smiled as he looked around half nervous and half relieved.
“I am parked outside.” she said in a hurried voice. He started to push the luggage cart, following her to the parking lot.
For the last two days, he was like a piece of chess being moved from place to place, every move logical yet he could not grasp the full picture. The whole thing was overwhelming. The whole things felt like a dream to him, a slow surreal experience. For the first time after a long time, he felt as if he had no control over the situation.
She hopped in the diver seat and told him to fasten his seat belt. Leaving the parking lot, they got on the highway.
“How far is Burlington?”
“Not far, about 30 minutes”
Driving down the highway, the surroundings looked so different to him, as if a fast moving scene in a computer game. The cars were flying down in a choreographed fashion, each one within its own lane and no one honking the horns. The roadside greenery was picture perfect, as if some artist had painted the roadside with different shades of green.
“It is so green everywhere!” he tried to make a small talk, while she was fiddling with the satellite radio.
“What do you mean?”
“It looks so pretty!”
“Yeah! You like it?” she kept changing the stations and finally settled on Adele’s ‘Rollin in the deep..’.
“It is very different!”
“I hope different ‘good’!” she said with a smirk.
He smiled and leaned back into the seat.
They got to her apartment. She opened the door and in they went. For some reason, he was expecting her whole family to be there, but there was no one. He was very surprised.
“How are your parents doing?” He asked.
“They are all good!”
“I thought they would be coming over!”
“Not today, they are all working. We will see them on the week-end!”
He stood there at the entrance, looking around the room that opened into a small dining area.
“Do you wanna get the luggage?” she interrupted his wandering thoughts.
In the evening, she ordered pizza delivery from ‘Pizza-Pizza’.
“This one has Indian masala on it,” she said as she opened the box.
After the dinner, she showed him how to call India from their home-phone..
“How does the house look?” his mom inquired on the phone.
“It is small but very clean!…” He shared his first impressions about the apartment…
After some chit-chat, he hung-up, promising to call her next day.
He woke up around 2 AM. In the dim light filtering through the curtains, he stared at the neatly painted walls and the ceiling. He closed his eyes but could not go back to sleep.
After tossing and turning for a long time, he got out of the bed at 4 AM and sulked on the sofa in the living room. He turned on the TV on a very low volume, but could not find anything worth watching. Occasionally, he paced up and down the living room and looked out of the window as cars drove down the street.
Her loud phone-alarm made him jump. It was 6 AM.
“You are up already?” she called out from the bedroom!
“Yes, I could not sleep!”
After a long pause, she called out again, “Can you put some tea on, please?”.
He just sat there in the sofa, as if he did not hear her. Then, with hesitation, he walked into the kitchen and looked around for a long time. Finally, he put a pan on the stove and looked for the supplies on the counter top. It took him a while to figure out how to ignite the gas-stove.
He had stove on, there was water in the pan and the supplies were sitting right in front of him – the teabags, the sugar, the green and black cardamom…
He put two teabags into the water as it started to boil. He opened the cardamom container, and then closed it again.
Finally, he walked into the living room, picked up the cordless phone and called his mom!
“Hello?” His mom, answered the phone.
“Mom” He said quietly.
“O hello beta! I already miss you! I was waiting for your call!”
“Mom”, he paused, “Mom, can you tell me how do you make tea?”
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