Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Smiles come back home ...

"Smile please" said Babu Uncle of Ensign Studio

The studio was always a place of wonder for Kannan. He smiled at the amazing sights around him. Before the picture was clicked Kannan walked around the studio and the dressing room, he saw camera's of different kinds set to take pictures, the huge sheets of colored paper for the background. The red carpeted floor, the dressing room with a mirror and the smell of the orange and white tin of Cuticura powder kept on the dressing table by the mirror, the different combs and brushes, the coats and ties on the hanger on the wall, the huge reflectors and flashes of the studio floor, Kannan was lost in the world of photography. Kannan loved photography from a very young age and for the nine year old in his blue jeans which he got from Jean shack the previous day and well pressed white and blue chequered shirt, prim proper stood with Amma in her violet saree and Akka in her blue and white frock with hair tied up in two pig tails on the sides.

"Click", The huge white umbrellas flashed a lightning and the photo was taken.

The picture was for Appa and that picture was very special with Amma and Akka. All that he understood then was that Appa has got a job in Nigeria and that he would be flying in an aero plane soon, with the smiling family picture. Appa was at the counter checking for the date when he would get his passport size photograph and the family photo. The evening was young and the next in line was dinner at Bharath Tourist Home, a restaurant which they went for celebrating special occasions or weekend eat outs. 

As the dinner started Kannan heard Appa talk to Amma. While having the dosa silently he heard his words

"They say I will have to fly in two weeks" said Appa
"And how will you manage" Amma asked
"Will have to... and you three can come after two years" Appa replied

The silence after that statement said it all. It was for the better prospects of the family, but the separation was painful. There were no many smiles during the dinner. The aroma of the food did not lure the heart, nor did it make a difference as it usually did. The silence followed them till all slept that night.

Kannan opened his eyes the next day to see Appa get ready to go to office. He got up from the bed and ran to Appa and hugged him, holding the leg as it was the pillar of his love that he would not leave even at the cost of his life. Appa smiled and gave a pat on his cheeks.

"Chandu.... Kanna.... Good morning" Appa said with love

Kannan smiled and asked

"Appa... are you going to foreign"
"Yes Kanna ... and you will come too ... soon" said Appa.

The smile was slowly melting away to sad stares. The thought of being away from Appa was hurting Kannan for sure. The whole day at office Gopal, Kannan's Appa, found it difficult to forget the eyes which were looking at him in the morning when Kannan asked about his trip. Around 3pm he received a call

"Gopal Sir... call for you" said the receptionist and transferred the call.

"Hello" said Appa
"Mr. Gopal, you have to pay 30,000 for the visa and associated expenses"
"Ok" said Appa and continued "When should I make the payment"
"A weeks time... thank you"

As a matter of fact 30,000 was big money then, but it was not so difficult for him. The money was arranged in two days time. The list for purchase was made and home was more of silence than celebrations of the new avenue. Every day was mechanical as days nudged towards the day when the payment was to be made. More of sleepless nights for Appa and Amma. 

Appa reached office and dialed the number of the agent who was making arrangement for the placement. All procedures of interviews and forms to be filled was done and it was the agent on the other end of the call

"I am not interested" said Appa to the Agent.

He came back home that evening with a smile on his face. He hugged Kannan who ran to him as he came back home.

"You are so happy... what happened" Amma asked
"Yes. I said "No" to the Agent, I am not going ...."

Smiles returned home that evening as the heart filled with hopes of being together and not being separated from the family. Appa's life was completely for the three most precious people in his life - His family. Kannan, Pachai will have their Appa close to them. Amma smiled with a sigh of relief that they need not think about being away from him. Life is a choice we make as we live each day. And the choice Appa made between more money and more love was obvious. He chose love .... That choice would forever remain a lesson for Kannan when he grows up, and the picture they took at Ensign Studio will remind him of the same.

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