Sunday, September 21, 2008

"If I forget thee, O India"

On the flight back from Brussels, the passenger sitting next to me was a teenager making his first visit to India. Ajay is a Canadian citizen, but his great-grandparents were born in India and migrated to UK and later to Canada. His grandfather was born in UK and his parents in Canada. His grandmother had been raised in India, though.

The great grandparents used to visit India at least once a year. And his grand-parents, maybe, once in two years. His parents rarely visited India. And, he, never.

So, why was Ajay visiting India now? His grandmother used to constantly sermonize on how they needed to stay in touch with their roots and had tried to convince his parents to make their ‘pilgrimage’ to India, once in a few years. This grandmother had died last year and Ajay took it upon himself to fulfill her wish.

Ajay’s tale reminded me of a lovely short story by Arthur C Clarke, titled, “ If I forget thee, O Earth”. Marvin, a ten-year old boy, lives in a closed lunar colony, cut off from Earth which had been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. On his tenth birthday, his dad takes him out of the Observatory and into a distant edge of the moon to have a glimpse of Earth, with its polar ice, hazy clouds and continents. Marvin understands why his father had brought him to that spot. His father may not be able to go back to Earth, but he needed to keep the memories alive by passing them on to his descendants, so that in a distant generation, when the winds and rivers have swept the radio-active wastes away on Earth, men could return to reclaim their heritage. So, to keep the dream alive, Marvin knew that he would bring his son too to the same spot in a few years.

The grandparents, by choice or by compulsion, may have struck their roots in unaccustomed earth, but the roots on accustomed earth, very often, refuse to let go.


Whacky™ said...

I think this is the only thing which can bring the ABCD's back to India..

Raj said...

whacky, that's a cynical view. Many ABCDs do want to come back. Most want to stay connected, at least.