"I am covered with fine gold," said the Prince, "you must take it off, leaf by leaf, and give it to my poor; the living always think that gold can make them happy."- The Happy Prince, Oscar WildeThe other day I was sharing my experiences from my visits to West Texas last year with a co-worker. He went silent when I mentioned I was probably the only one there at that time who was not white. He seemed to have gotten uncomfortable when I mentioned a race. I ignored that discomfort on his face and continued my thoughts on the humongous volume of oil drilling going on there. We had a visitor who works outdoors who was back from Midland, a city in West Texas, recently. He amused us with the heavy prices he had to pay some for cheap motel rooms. The area gets large number of visitors dealing with the money rich oil industry.
A few weeks back I was at a mall with this co-worker who wanted to gift jewelry to his wife but didn't want her to know about the purchase. In his family she was the one checking bank statements often for discrepancies and he knew that to keep it a secret he would have to find some other way. He asked me to be his accomplice. I paid for the gift using my card and he signed me a check. His wife could have spotted a card purchase but a written check puts only some numbers on the statement. This was also my chance to make a better friend out of my co-worker who also happens to be my lead. I miss my friends from the engineering days.
Years back I played a lot of cricket outside my grandmother's house and we had a neighbor who seemed to have trouble with the noise we made. This was often until one day a friend of mine yelled back at him after he tried to force us stop playing. We were all neighbors but that gentleman didn't put up a fight and never did he stop us from playing again. I met him last November when he was an invitee to my wedding party. He got on to the stage with several other people, shook hands and hugged me, turned to somebody and asked who the groom was.
I had a clear idea of how I wanted my wedding to be and I succeeded in having my parents to do it for me. There were many who commented negatively nevertheless I could stand up to my preferences and my parents were listening. That neighbor didn't recognize me on the stage probably because the last time he had seen me it was around four years back or perhaps I was just too trivial for him - just one of those annoying kids playing outside his house. The reason he didn't recognize the groom was because I was dressed up the way everybody was dressed up - no headgear and no flowers.
When I was heading back to the US in 2010 I was coming back to finish my Masters. Last November it looked very unconvincing to me. I was leaving my parents, brother and wife behind with no necessary purpose which could have not been fulfilled back in Hyderabad. That terminal gate at the Mumbai airport comes to my mind often where I sat waiting for the next flight and made a decision. I had a strong urge to take a flight back to Hyderabad. InshAllah my wife will be here with me in a few days; not everybody can be on my side all the time. It was an intriguing urge.