This afternoon, my host grandparents left Pune and flew back to their home in Delhi. Just minutes before they packed into the cozy family car, we all stood in the living room hugging and saying emotional goodbyes. After Thama, my grandma, finished enveloping me in one of the warmest, most loving hugs I’ve ever received, she grasped my hand and gently placed two crisp 500 rupee notes in my palm. Despite it being tradition here in India for elders to give children money before going on their way, I didn’t feel right accepting Thama’s generous gift. If anything, I felt as though I should be the one giving a gift to her; although I know that there’s nothing in this world of enough value to repay her for the priceless love and compassion she showed me over these past couple months.
Thama treated me as if I was her own granddaughter. We couldn’t communicate very fluently; nevertheless, between a few English phrases, some broken Hindi, and a lot of laughter, we understood each other just fine. Her compassion never ceased to amaze me. Her strength and dignity inspired me. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been accepted by her with a loving heart and open arms.
So, as the car slowly rolled away, we blew kisses and waved goodbye. And when it was finally out of sight, I came to the realization – through tear-filled eyes – that those final farewell gestures may be my last encounter with Thama.
I may never get the chance to see Thama again; but one thing is certain, she will always hold a special place in my heart. Her kindness has truly changed my life.