The Life Abroad – I

Life. Life is a sequence of seasons – winter waiting for spring, summer-heat longing for autumn. Life is a picnic in the playground, with bread crumbs scattered all around, attracting the pigeons and crows alike. Life is daydreaming and being satisfied with the resulting illusions.
Life. Days spent surfing the net, wandering in the shopping malls, driving to the country side, watching an old tv show re-run, to relive the past – life is what we never thought it would be.

He was 23 when he migrated to Canada – big dreams, bigger illusions. University of Toronto campus was his home for next 2 years – long sessions in the engineering labs, studying for exams until 4AM… working on the gas-station during week-end… His father, a small farmer in Punjab, sent over money regularly, but that could barely support his tuition.
He shared the apartment with 3 other Indian students – it was cheaper that way, more economical for student life. A few times a week, they went to the Dixie Gurdwara; not because they were religious, – half of them were not even Sikhs, – you just cannot beat the free food from the ‘langar’ – the ‘common kitchen’.

The final year. He was feeling more comfortable in the city that was once very foreign to him. He started to hang out with his white class mates… more and more. They went to the Niagara Falls every other week-end. They drove to the small mountain side in Hamilton… they went shopping across the border in the US… they went to the movies together.
The youth. The American culture. The attractions. He was always attracted to Shania Kennedy, a tall slim girl with blonde hair. Perhaps because she was into spirituality, or perhaps because she had expressed he interest in traveling to India and exploring eastern cultures…not sure why.

During the spring break, he went to Calgary with Shania; they stayed at her parents’ ranch outside the city. “One of the most memorable springs or my lifetime!” He wrote in his online journal, “I wish the spring would never end!”
The spring ended, the school ended; he had finally graduated.

“My starting salary is $61,000 a year, that’s a little more than $5K a month,” he wrote his dad in an email, “there is a one month break before my job starts; I will be coming home next Sunday. I have so much to share with you! One of my best friend Shania (pronounced like Shanaya) is coming with me too..” He thought for second; then, backspaced the last sentence, erasing it, and pressed the ‘send email’ icon.
Next morning, he had an email reply from his dad – written by his sister, Rupi, on behalf of his father, “This is very good news”, the message read in parts, “everybody is very excited… your job is very timely and God-sent. Jagga, our next door neighbor, is selling his land; we should buy it, now that we can afford it….” It went on, “Also, your Baldev uncle’s daughter – Kamal – has just finished M.A.; they have been asking about you. Your mom really likes her…..”
The email ended with a P.S.
“P.S. : Hey bro, I am writing this exactly as mom-dad want it…see you soon…love… , your little sis – Rupi.”

He sat there looking at the email. Not reading it again, just staring at it. It felt like someone just threw a bucket-full of cold water on him. His fingertips rested on the keyboard, motionless. Finally, he managed to close the email.

He looked outside through the window. The sun was bight, basking the city in its warm shine. “What am I going to say to Shania; she is so excited to go to India!” He murmured. He stood there, looking at the city, looking at the cars going by the front lawn.

Life. Life is strange; a sequence of events – some planned, mostly unplanned. Life is a beautiful morning, followed by an uncertain day, an uncertain journey.

In the afternoon, he drove to Niagra Falls with Shania, in her car, with her sitting in the passenger seat. “Sometimes”, he thought to himself, “it is easier to break a bad news, if you are looking at a marvelous natural wonder.” He knew he was not making any sense.
“May be, we spend this summer here!” He had to gather all his courage to start the conversation as they walked from the parking lot to the water falls.
“What do you mean?”
“Instead of going to India!”
“What?… why?”
“I think it will be more fun!”
She looked at him, with confusion.
“So what do you say?”
“I don’t know!”
“I know. We can go to Montreal, I have some friends there; we can visit the Quebec City!”
They hugged. The cold wind from the falls was soaking them with water, cooling them down on the warm summer day.
The bright sun from the west was going down steadily, reflecting a beautiful rainbow across the water falls.

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