gold chains from muscat



i remember it was 3 days after my birthday which
meant i had worn “colour dress” twice the same week
distributed sweets and collected farewell letters when i
explained to my 1st grade class friends that i was 
leaving for India forever. i went home that day 
in a different car, asked my dad what happened to the
red Pajero i had picked out my previous birthday 
he told me he had to give it away, quite sadly, but then
to comfort himself more than me i guess he added
“we can’t take cars on a plane anyway” i nodded my
head sensibly, i’d like to think of myself as an intuitive kid
at least that’s what all the report cards said.
the luggage was packed, boxes upon boxes lined
against the wall, things i don’t even remember that i lost;
my mother sat my brother and i down on the carpet
reminding my dad, “we have to roll up the carpet”
she pulled out two thick gold chains, a melted combination
of all the things my dad ever managed to make in this
country that i was born in. my mother put one on me
tucked it under my shirt, said my neck looked
very pretty with the glitter, my brother obviously refused
the ornament, my dad had to do a lot of convincing 
showing him the black chain made of thread he wore around his neck
telling him men can wear these things too, my brother
subsided. the next thing i remember was the immigration queue 
where my dad left us three telling us if he didn’t come back
to call uncle Venu, my mother calmly sat us down and gave us
our toys, she fidgeting with hers, her thali, and even then 
knowing nothing i thought she was a strong woman.
then i caught her staring at the Omani officers who were
looking at my dad’s passport; i eventually got distracted
by my brother’s transformer toy that he obviously refused
to let me play with. a waving of hands, some questioning 
my mother pinches my brother intensely not even looking at him 
i was always throwing tantrums about my brother’s blatant
disregard for me, this was normal, but even then as a kid i felt 
the pinching was way too much for something so silly
and then she stopped suddenly, deep breaths and took us to
the security clearance, the lady in the hijab noticed
my gold chain, “isn’t it pretty” i asked
she smiled, we got past the Omani borders 
on to the all too familiar Air India flight, i never 
knew then that this would be the last time i’d ever fly
for a long long time. then all i remember is landing in
Kochi and my dad and mom looking at each other
with some pain but also with some relief, we grabbed 
trolleys and put the very little that we brought back
with us and we got into a cab, my mother took the thick
gold chains from our necks, we went to a gold shop and 
they gave my brother and i lime juice and we sipped it
and bitched about the heat like the spoilt NRI kids we
were, and i never saw them gold chains from muscat again
just a very stuffed looking bag on my mother’s shoulders
a grim but determined look on their faces. i think they attempted to build
life again for us - i remember it all so well - the carpet, the cab
the gold shop with no a/c, the beginning of a new life in this new city.