P and I had been meaning to visit our parents in Chennai since the summer of 2012. But visa issues prevented us from making the trip. My cousin G was getting married in December and I really wanted to be there. It was November when our visa papers came through but booking tickets to India in the last minute and in the peak season meant paying a small fortune. So I prayed for a miracle. We got tickets for a decent price but had only a few weeks to pack, shop and get ready for a month long visit to India.
I was apprehensive about this trip. Chennai never felt the same after my grandma passed away and our last trip was so chaotic that I just wanted to get back home to the U.S. What if this trip was the same? My worry made me physically sick. I had a bad cough that wouldn’t go away even after a round of antibiotics. I was weak and listless. I spent the Thanksgiving holiday trying to help my daughter finish her project work and science experiments. My husband was busy shopping. I had no energy to shop but had to drag myself to Kohl’s for the Black Friday sale. I had to get the wedding gifts.
December came by and saw me feeling better physically, but fear was gnawing at my heart. Will I survive a month in Chennai? Will the mosquitoes eat my kids alive? And worst of all how can I stay there without my Dadima?
And then she came to me in a dream. She was sitting up on her bed, in her room. A quiet smile of reassurance playing on her lips. Almost like she was saying – I’m here for you. You have nothing to fear. And next to her sitting on a chair was Doreen Virtue! I have no clue what she was doing in my dream!
The fear melted away and I was confident that this trip was going to be magical from the get go. True enough the rest of my week was filled with rainbows, pennies, number patterns and other good omens.
We had to catch an early flight from Orlando to JFK. We were up at 2.00 a.m. and then headed off to the airport by 3.00. While we were waiting in line to clear the security check, I saw a girl holding a beautiful golden trophy with an angel on it. I was deliriously happy and I knew we’d fly to Chennai on the wings of an angel!
In JFK my son found a penny and right after that we got stuck at the security checkpoint. The TSA wanted to open one of our boxes. I grew apprehensive as I waited with my kids. I quickly started praying and asked my kids to do the same. My son said to me – Ma we just found a penny. I was bemused by my 7-year old’s wisdom. I quickly stopped fretting and turned around to see my husband walking towards us.
When I was in Chennai my brother gave me a book to read – The Small Book of Miracles. It had several short anecdotes about divine intervention and signs. (See http://punctuatelife.com/2012/04/18/a-sign-from-above/). So like I said in that post, pennies are a sign from above. But for the first time I realized why. The book said – look at what is written on a penny. It says ‘In God We Trust’. I had not paid attention to that before. But I had always wondered why a penny? Why not a quarter or a dime or a nickel? Now I know why! Next time you find a penny, pick it up with reverence and thank God for it. It is a powerful sign of reassurance and comfort that only your highest good will come through.
I was talking about my grandma to an old friend of Dad’s who was quite close to her. I was telling him how she remembered every birthday and sent cards ahead of time so it would reach us in the U.S. The last card she sent was for Nitin’s birthday before she passed away on February 3rd. The card never reached us. All I have is a tattered envelope with her writing on it and an apology note from the USPS for losing the mail. Little did they know how precious that card was. I wept over this tragic incident for a long time.
It so happened that Nitin’s birthday fell during our stay in Chennai. As happy as I was to spend it with both our families, I missed my grandma and wished she was also part of the celebration. I woke up that morning and stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth. On the sink I saw a stamp with Indira Gandhi’s face on it. My grandma adored the first female Prime Minister of India and they shared the same name. Later I opened the newspaper to find a whole page on Indira Gandhi and also her picture. It still did not occur to me that my grandma was trying to tell me something.
At the end of the day I was drawn to a pile of books and papers and as I shuffled through them I found a card from my grandmother. It was an anniversary card and she had written on it, congratulating us on the birth of Anjali. I got the message loud and clear. I turned to Nitin and told him that Dadima was wishing him a very happy birthday!
At my cousin’s wedding I spoke to my aunt and she suddenly started talking about guardian angels. She said our loved ones are our guardian angels. Like Dadi was mine. My heart fluttered with joy to hear these words. I knew it was true but to hear it from someone else simply confirmed my beliefs.
Some say it is wrong to call on your loved ones once they have crossed over. But I think in my case my grandma has chosen to be with me and I feel blessed to have her blessings and her guidance. You see love knows no boundaries. This time when I left Chennai, a piece of me stayed behind.
More about my Chennai trip in Part 2. Happy 2013 everyone.