I am sure most of you who stay away from home have experienced this – your father or mother calling you up to ask you to call some so-and-so who stays in the same city as you, arguing that it is good to be in touch with known people when you are so far from home. You may not have the slightest of hint who that person may be, but just because your parents want you to be in touch with the person, you oblige them by dialling the given number as reluctantly as possible.
The other time, my father called up to say that one of his fellow distributor friends, a very respected blind ex-army official’s daughter is married in London and that I must get in touch with her. ‘But Papa, what will I talk to her? She must be quite old and I have only talked to Uncle a couple of times and that too when I was a kid’. He replied – ‘She is a very nice girl (though I know he has never met her) and you know what – she has married an ex-army official who is blind arguing that since she has grown up helping her blind father, she has no reason to make a different choice’. I was flabbergasted – I dint know what to say and jotted down the number without uttering a word. How many of us would do so?
I gave her a call two weeks after this conversation, after having fought with myself many times over. I din’t know in which language to greet her – so a fumbled me said a Bengali Namaskar, followed by a Hindi Namaste followed by an English how are you, all in one breath. She replied hi adding she was expecting my call as her father had briefed her about me. To break the ice she said what was going on in my mind – ‘I know you must be feeling a little awkward making this call as our fathers want us to talk to absolute strangers giving us only small references. It happens with me a lot’. I could not agree with her more. We talked about 2020 cricket, Wimbledon and she invited me and my brother on one of the weekends.
Yesterday we visited their place for dinner, a house in a nice location close to Oval cricket stadium. It was a pleasure to meet the couple. I had the most fulfilling conversations with them. The husband Mr. G, was a Major in Indian army, had lost his eyes towards the end of Kargil war in 2000 during an anti-terrorist operation in Kupwara. For the first time I met somebody who had fought the Kargil war and had suffered injuries because of it. I could not stop a few tears, invisible to him and unheard to his wife. He was in various hospitals for the next two years and had met her in one of the hospitals. He was a delight to talk to. Given his life-changing experience, he talked very highly about the Indian army.
The lady of the house, our host Mrs. M, had cooked amazing Bengali food which we both loved. We stayed there for 4 long hours, dint stop talking even for a second. Mr. G currently works in an NGO for people with disability and Mrs. M works for an NGO against the recruitment of child soldiers across the globe. I told them about my initiation to help street children in India and they were very appreciative & supportive.
Meeting such great minds in life is so enriching. I called up my father to thank him. I will now meet everybody he asks me to meet without questioning.