Saying Goodbye

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On my last morning in Bhanwar, it was less hazy than it had been. I could see the snowcapped Himalayas from Prem’s rooftop which had been hiding in the mist all along. We all kind of moped around. I wished I could stay longer, but it was time to go to Poonam’s wedding.

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Nabu (left), Archna (right) and their mother.

The girls next door had been calling to me all morning. “Auntie, please, don’t go!” They all knew there were only a few hours left before I had to leave. I went over to say goodbye. They were so lovely and had come over the most often to visit and dance. I took pictures of them with their  mother. I’m sorry to say I don’t know their mother’s name. No one had actually introduced her to me.

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Prem needed to iron a shirt, but he had to make a repair first.

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Meena was busy making lunch, so Prem ironed the shirt and pants he was going to wear that day. He always wears a dress shirt and slacks when he’s on the job.

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It had been a very special week for me, getting to know this lovely family and their neighbors. We had shared so much fun and laughter. They had taken care of me just as if I were a member of the family. We went down to the car. The children hugged me one last time. And Meena, unlike the shy, fleeting embrace she had given me on our first meeting, held onto me for a long time. When she released me, a tear slid down her cheek. I was so moved.

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“Don’t cry, Meena,” I said. “I will come again.”

I will most certainly come again, and I’ll make every effort to return even before Priya’s wedding.

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