I have a car to sell and I have advertised it, and paid a large amount of cash for the advertisement. This means that I stay at home and answer all the calls this Saturday in March. I am much occupied in answering queries, the first flush is still there. ‘The car is popular and I will find the buyer for sure today and do the deal. Okay, the price I am asking for may not be paid but I will strike the deal for sure’. These are the thoughts in my head. I am already dreaming of my next car and how I will travel far and wide in it, in absolute new-found comfort. It will be bigger, sleeker.
Short interruption of dream takes place here.
My son is telling me something. “I am going to Ajmer right now,” he says.
“Huh?” That’s me of the interrupted dream.
“Mom, I am leaving for Ajmer right now, say in an hour, Gaurav has called and he is going. I will leave with him.” Gaurav is my cousin but my son’s age, early 20’s, and to know how this happens (that my cousin is more my son’s brother than mine), you will have to do a deep study of the way population grows in India and this is not the time nor place for it. Moreover, we are talking about travel here. To Ajmer, really.
“To Ajmer, really?” my brain is registering the statement and taking a long time over it. To turn from striking deals and sales to mundane ideas of travelling to a distant city like Ajmer is not my idea of fun. Yet.
I freeze. “You do know that the car is being sold today. I will have people coming to inspect the car.” Somehow, despite the deep freeze, my eyebrows manage to raise themselves up to my receding hairline. So that is quite a distance.
“I am going. The car can be sold some other day.”
He is needed in Delhi with me today to explain the finer points of the car to those who want to know. Take them for a spin if necessary. I don’t see myself doing all that, I just deal with the administrative part of most set-ups. You know, talk on the phone, arrange things, talk on the phone, do the deal. I need the labour (here it is my son), to do the labour. The labour seems to be leaving. Travelling, actually.
My lips downturn. Then they become a straight line. Three lines form on my forehead, to become a deep -seated frown. Actually these lines are already there. When my lips form a straight line, the lines on my forehead take their cue from them. They form three waves. Unruly ones, like my thoughts.
I feel like saying, ”Say no to him. You can’t go, I forbid it.” This just won’t work with my son. After all, he is not a toddler.
“Adil,” I tell him, “tell Gaurav to shift plans, go next weekend.”
“No,” he says.
“Why?” I ask. According to my children, this is my favourite question for most things. I am known as the ‘why’ woman. I am playing true to form, but no one else seems to be doing it.
“Because, Mom…” Adil’s voice slows down, “Gaurav has been called by the holy man at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. (This is the Sufi shrine over the grave of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti). Gaurav has been wanting to make an offering there for some time, and there was no date available. Suddenly the date is, and it’s today. I am going with him because I want to go to Ajmer Sharif too.”
“I want to go too, you know that,” I say. Thoughts race in my mind. ‘Why did I not give the advertisement earlier? Now I cannot go with them, for giving the advertisement again for next week will cost me again, and I will lose all of today’s customers and Adil is not going to be there to show the customers the car today in any case, oh, why do the Gods conspire to do this to me?’
I look up. Adil is smiling. It always amuses my children to see me in a flap. They consider my flapping unnecessary but endearing.
“What’s the matter, Mom?”
A small teardrop plans to fall off the corner of one eye. Another one is forming in the other eye. I blink behind my specs.
“You know that I want to go to the Dargah Ajmer Sharif too. And now I can’t go. Okay, maybe I will go some other time. You go.” I cannot stop him from this, everyone in the family desires to go to Ajmer Sharif, pay his or her respects, get blessings. It is well-known among those who believe, that whatever you ask for at the Khwaja’s door, gets done. It seems Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, without an heir, had come to the Khwaja to seek his blessings for a son. Prince Humayun was born soon after.
“You go, my son,” I repeat, wiping hard at the tears streaming down my face. My voice quivers and rises a couple of decibels.
“There is no point in anything,” I sob. The tears gather momentum.
“Mom,” he says, “stop being a Drama Queen.” Then, he says, gently putting his arm around my sagging shoulders, “Come with us. The car can be sold anytime.”
Yes, of course. A dream is waiting to be realized with open arms. Or wings.
“Let’s go,” I say. It is early afternoon. We must leave right away for Gaurav’s place.
As the three of us enter the gates of the Ajmer Sharif that night, I hear the song, “Mein to Khwaja ki Diwani…”. I am madly in love with the Khwaja, it means. I know this to be true. Passion, madness and faith are needed for travel. I am a traveller.
published 4 September 2011