I have never been to India.
But the story of how I'm about to go there this April is worth noting. It started somewhere long, long ago.
My mom graduated from India. She was one of the few women in her class to graduate with a pharmaceutical degree. This was back in the 60's. As I flipped through my mom's photo album, I saw a black and white photo of her in a sari. She was the only woman with straight hair. Also the first time I saw the Taj Mahal, it was with my mom posing in the foreground. The Taj is no doubt beautiful and thousands of men give praise to its beauty, but to a child, her mother was the more important focus. Years later, I put this black and white photo next to a colored one that had me posing in front of the Eiffle Tower. We had the same pose.
Mom would talk about the smell that she never quite got used to. And that she almost fell for this guy who was like an angel to her because he helped her with all her classes. But in the end she turned him down because he was Indian. The guy ended up writing my mom a birthday card every year for the next twenty something years. Poor guy got his heart broken by my mom, but he's now doing very well as a doctor somewhere in America. I wish I could talk to him to find out more what my mom was like then. But then Mom said, if she ended up with him, I wouldn't have been born. Or that I'd be a mixed kid with really long eyelashes and an Indian last name. Anyway, my mom can speak good English , but she's never quite used to my accent, and she'd ask me to repeat certain words or slow down when I talk. She also doesn't like that fact that I'm so Americanized. Bollywood doesn't bother her but Hollywood does.
When I went to America, the thought of India somewhat faded away.
Later in college, I got a chance to read E.M. Forster's A Passage to India. It was the first time in a long awhile that India drifted back into my consciousness. I threw out many books from college when I left America, but I've kept this one. Something about it just tells me to hold on to it.
In a strange way, I feel like India was a part of my childhood. A part of my mother that made her who she is today. I somehow feel like India is calling me there. And the voice got louder and louder over the past recent years.