A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Strength is what I ask for

Posted by Pepper on January 8, 2012

I am unimaginably close to my parents. So much so, that I find it really hard to write about them. Each time I’ve tried to describe our relationship, I’ve felt too overwhelmed. I fumble for words that will do a fair job in depicting that bond we share. It’s such a scary thought, but when I say I can kill for my parents and sister, I really mean it. My family is the magnetic force that draws me towards Bombay, my city.

So far, I have been resisting the force that is pulling me towards itself with increasing intensity. I don’t know how long I can resist it. I know one day I will be too weak to fight the powerful tugs that will take me home. Until then, I stay here, making do with phone calls that last for hours, every single day. I don’t think I can ever sleep without giggling on the phone with my mom and sis, without hearing my dad ask me “How is my gudiya?”

The biggest disadvantage of the distance, if you ask me, is the constant worry I am subjected to. I worry about my parents, and that is an understatement. They’re not young anymore. My mom, she has osteoporosis. I worry about the brittle state of her bones, her diet,  her ailments, however minor they are. She is extremely clumsy. And each time she steps out of the house, I worry. If she is travelling by train, I worry about her missing a step while climbing the stairs on the platform and having a fall, I worry about the possibility of a bomb blast or a terrorist attack when she is out.  During the monsoon, I worry about her slipping on a wet pavement. About a year ago, she had a fall on the road because she missed seeing the dug out road ahead.  She is that clumsy. And that one small fall resulted in five big fractures in her leg. Her bones are that brittle and weak. When I think of it,  I realise my list of worries is endless.

And my dad, well, I don’t know if I should even get there. He has the worst diet I have ever seen, he suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes. Two years ago, he underwent Angioplasty. The medication continues till date, and so does my fear.

While my parents are not in the pink of health, there is nothing very majorly wrong with them and I thank God for that every single day. Worrying about the future and being grateful for the present has become a part of my life now. I’ve spoken to Mint about this several times. He says I need to stop worrying, at whatever cost. But considering how deeply attached I am to my parents, the thought of something happening to them makes my heart stop. I suppose it is like that for most of us.

Two days ago my parents and sister drove from Bombay to Pune. They wanted a change of scene and some quality time together. They were going to be there for about 3 days. We spoke on phone once they got to their hotel room. I could hear incessant laughter on the other end. Apparently, the three of them were competing with each other to see who could come up with the worst names for my unborn children. * Rolls eyes * Names like ‘Bholaprasad’, ‘Yashwanti devi’, were taken. They decided to call me and tell me the wonderful names they had come up with. We spoke for a long time, laughing on the phone together. Them telling me how they wished I was there with them, me telling them I will be there soon, it went on, as usual. We hung up when it was time for them to sleep.

The next day we spoke at our usual time again. This time, the sister’s “Hello” sounded tense. Before I could even ask her what was up, she told me in a single breath, “You know? Something very scary happened today. Dad felt very, very dizzy. I have never seen him like that. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t even lie still on the bed. Mom and I had to hold him. He wasn’t talking much sense at that time and he couldn’t balance his head. He seemed to be in a daze”

“What?!?!?”, I asked? Instantly, I could feel my heart pounding against my rib cage. My mouth felt dry. I gulped. Before I could ask her more questions, she said “He’s okay now. We called a doctor to the room immediately when it happened. They tested him and said his sugar had gone too low. They gave him the right medicines. Now he’s alright, but I am still scared. Don’t tell mom and dad I told you this. They asked me not to say anything to you”

When she passed on the phone to mom, I made her blurt it out to me on her own. She told me he really seemed okay now. She called a few people in Mumbai and they told her they would be there in Pune in case there was any emergency. She assured me things were under control and that he was fine now. I even spoke to him for a few minutes after that. He did sound totally alright. After a bit of general talk, we hung up.

Despite him sounding okay, I couldn’t come to terms with all that had happened. I sat there, trembling for a long time in Mint’s arms, his steady hands stroking my head, telling me I needn’t worry. I kept wishing I were in India, with them. I wanted to be there, I wanted to take charge of the situation, I wanted to be around when the doctor came, I wanted to, just be there.

It’s been almost two days, but the fear and the uneasiness refuses to leave me. I do consider myself to be a strong person, but when it comes to my parents, I am not strong at all. They always say having kids is like having your heart walk out of your body. That is how I feel about my parents. They’re my babies, those two. And now, my dad is going to be traveling for work, all alone. I have so many fears, but I want to push them away. I want to have nerves of steel. I want to be brave, because my parents would want me to be that way.


99 Responses to “Strength is what I ask for”

  1. Oh sweety…just reading this made me scared! I hope Dad is doing well now. My prayers are with you and them all. Hugs.

    You said it right – this distance doesn’t make ANYTHING easier! It’s a constant worry !! 😦

  2. Sig said

    Oh darling. *Hugs* to you. I am so incredibly lucky to have my parents only a 10 minute walk away from my home, so I can totally feel your fear. I think about things like that all the time even though they are so near!

    I guess a part of getting older, is knowing and seeing your own parents get older and wanting to nurture them like they did for us a children. I’m hoping your Dad is ok – I know he will be.

    You are strong Pepper, stronger than you know. But *hugs* just to help you be stronger still 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Sigs, you don’t know how much I have dreamt of living within walking distance to my parents. You are truly, incredibly lucky and I am glad you realise that 🙂

      • An old timer who shut her blog said

        @Pepper, you’d probably be at their place all the time if you guys lived in walking distance of each other 🙂

        • Pepper said

          Don’t know how feasible that is, with our jobs, travel time and other chores. I don’t think I would have the time to be at their place all the time, but if I do get to walk to their place after dinner, or even see them once a day, I would say its a wonderful arrangement 🙂

  3. R's Mom said

    Gosh thats scary Pepper…listen..acha forget it..I will mail you..hugs

  4. Yamini said

    Hi Pepper, Hope your dad is doing much better. I am incredibly close to my parents and sister, and completely understand what you feel. Take care and dont worry, everything will be fine:)

  5. smitha said

    I wish you all the strength in the world. I know exactly how this feels, because I am exactly the same with my parents, and I constantly worry about them. That is one of the major reasons that I am so keen on moving back to India.

  6. vethal said

    Dear pepper. if there were ever a day when ur parents need to be taken care of, am sure Mint will accomodate them in your home. Imagine so many other girls that cant get that luxury… !! and best wishes to ur dad.

    • Pepper said

      You’re very right. I wouldn’t have married him, had he been any other way. But although I know Mint will be happy to have them stay with us in our home, I wonder how feasible that is, with us being so far away at this point. That can only work if we move back to India.

  7. Smita said

    Ohhh!!! I can understand what you must be going through. I too get this feeling of helplessness for my parents who live in Chennai, you to are so far!!

    But be brave I am sure he will be hail & hearty in time 🙂

  8. Hugs doll! I am sure your Daddy will be just fine

    super liked your post! felt my eyes brim up…i know it’s hard but sometimes we need to let our parents grow up and find their wings 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Thanks so much Nuttie. Your last line is making me think a lot. I wonder if my parents want to find new wings. To me, it just looks like they are waiting to have me back under their their old, caring wings.

  9. Sam said

    “I want to be brave, because my parents would want me to be that way” – such a beautiful post.. had tears in my eyes.. guess everyone has these fears when it comes to their parents and especially if you have to live abroad. I become tense when these thoughts occur and I know that I have to be living somewhere else.
    Thank god that your dad is allright now.

  10. […] Nuttie, Divya, Divz, Comfy, Uma, Deepti, B, Smitha, Pepper, Tan, Bikram, IHM, Ritu, Swaram, Shilpa, Hitchy, Pixie , Debo, Saks,  Pinoo  and the rest […]

  11. Nikita said

    I can relate it to so much, I got married last month, this day. And was on honeymoon when my father met an unfortunate accident on 21st december. I was due to return on 23rd. Can you believe this, no one told me untill i returned. My parents, sister, extended family, inlaws.. NO one. Strange things were happening a day before that, Mom picking papa’ cell and giving some excuse. Papa not even asking once to come to pick me up from the airport.. but never in my dreams i imagined something like this. He broke his leg badly. Had undergone a major surgery on 22nd, and 23rd night when i reached.. i was in for a shock, as soon as i got to know i went to the hospital.. and cried like anything.. how can i wasn’t there when my parents were undergoin so much pain and so much more than that.

    They were saying what could you have done, and then you would have travelled in tension, what if something bad had happened to you.. now you are here, take in charge..ab dhyan rakh lo.. but its not abt what could had i done. Its only about being there, just being there, smiling that things would be fine, reassuring everyone and getting assured yourself. Its only about being together, its only about sharing the hospital food to let papa know its not that bad. Its only about giving mamma a break and attending all the phone calls..the doctor, the physiotherapist..its only about reading newspaper to papa…creating some light environment in that dull hospital room….all this and lot more.. I realised it doesnt matter how many people are there to take care of all the arrangement, and to manage things..at the end of the day you four being together makes all the differnce. I couldnt leave him, till he returned home on 28th… I was glad i could be there.. and also thankful to my workplace for being so damn supportive, giving me freedom to work from home or take off till i feel comfertable to join..

    But its damn scary to stay away from your parents at this stage when they are growing old and the what ifs.. that constantly haunt us..

    • Pepper said

      God! Now that does sound terrible. I would say you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it Nikita. You shouldn’t feel guilty simply because you weren’t aware of the going ons. Had you known all that was happening and still chosen to focus on other things and not be there for them, then probably that could be a premise for some guilt. Right now, you shouldn’t even think on those lines. And I am so glad your papa is back home now.

      And hey, you got married?! The last time you commented, you said your parents were on the lookout for a suitable guy. So happy you found your match. Congratulations!

    • Scribby said

      Nikki hope uncle is alright now…let me know if you’re still here or wait let me call you right away,that’s better! Hugs dear

      • Nikita said

        Hey.. thats why I coudnt call you when i reached our city. All the time was busy with papa…I was extending my work from home arrangement but gladly some help came from my nani ghar, and mummy – papa sent me to Hyderabad to join back.. Hez doing ok now, but its a long treatment. I mean bad leg injury, the process takes time. He has to be in bed for almost 7 weeks at a strech. I just hope this time passes away soon and he is back to life, to normalcy.

  12. I still live at home with my parents, but I know I’d move out soon enough. Breaks my heart to think of leaving them alone. And they have a full life where they are now – it isn’t right to take them away to wherever I go. And they would definitely not be ready for that either. Its one of the things that I try not to think about too much… because it makes me worry. But considering how my life is going now, it looks like living close-by in the future is going to be almost impossible 😦

    But stay strong – your parents would be proud and would want it that way.

    • Pepper said

      It is really hard to work everything out and live close to parents in this day and age. I however, still dream of it and hope to make it work, even if it means compromising on other factors. Good luck to you too, don’t think about it too much right now. Just enjoy your time with them.

  13. Geet said

    Oh Pepper.. I was in tears reading this blog.. Because this is exactly what I am going through now.. My brother is in Germany and me in London and my parents are in Blore. When I am not asleep in the night which I am almost every other day, I cry, I feel i shouldnt have come this far. I havent been enjoying it here whole heartedly.Though I have a lovely husband and I have regrets about my life here, somehow it doesnt feel complete because I miss them so much. As I am writing this my eyes are blurred by my tears… how I wish I could just not worry about anything just go to them when I feel like… *sigh*

    • Pepper said

      Oh I cry thinking of how far I have come too. I love my life here, but I always think it lacks something vital – the presence of my family. Life is so complex. Hope you find peace soon. Hugs!

  14. Good to know your dad is better now.

    I can so relate to this post. This is exactly the way I feel about my parents. I go sick with worry when I hear they are unwell, and when I cannot be with them.

  15. Hey,

    They will be fine Pepper, I know its easier said than done to ask you to calm down. I am sure talking to them as often as you’d like helps right? Don’t worry, they’ll be fine.
    Sorry I rambled on without knowing all this,I had not read your post when we chatted …

    • Pepper said

      Thanks 🙂 And don’t apologize for rambling. What could you have done anyway? It’s not like I have stopped talking about other things myself.

  16. garima said

    I so understand the fear and concern you have for your parents.I too undergo such kind of feelings.A single phone call from them at odd times (part of day when they usually dont call nor do I) scares me a lot.
    I pray to god to bless our parents with good health.Stay strong dear and am sure your dad would soon be fine.Take Care

  17. Bikram said

    Pepper I know the feeling.. dont know what to say .. I have tried twice now to get my mum permanent here in uk but they dont allow for some reason or other ..

    You shud go and meet your parents , seeing your dad fine will calm the nerves a bit. its the not seeing that makes things worse..

    made me cry this post.

    • Pepper said

      My parents would never agree to move here permanently, neither do I expect them to. The only way I can live with them is by moving back. I do hope to make a trip soon..

  18. Adt said

    Hugs to you … I hope your dad gets better.

    I was nodding my head all thru the first half of the post , coz that is how it is with my folks too. I am thankful for everyday that they are good and worry about the them . I guess the distance amplifies our fears infinitely and that an emergency would take a day to get to them.We are also going thru with our GC now and hopefully once that comes thru and all, in another yr or two look at relocating to asia:hopefully .

    I hope your dad gets better and is up and about soon. Are they still in Pune?

  19. Richa said

    When it comes to parents all children feel the same. Specially daughters like you and me who live so far away. I can totally understand how you must be feeling. But dont worry and just believe in God. You dad will be well soon. I will pray for him. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Thanks a lot Richa. I believe in prayers and I am counting on them 🙂

      • Richa said

        Pepper this was soomething we both had in common. The distance. You ditched it and went to be with your parents. I am still there. Far away.

        I must say you had the courage to decide between the two – US or Family.

        Lately I have been in the same place as yours in this post. Now I understand how difficult it is.


        • Pepper said

          Richa, don’t lose heart. It is important to remain strong, only then will you be at peace. I’ve said this before, fortunately for you, you aren’t too far away from your parents, are you?

          If you are unable to make peace with your situation, then try changing it. Though like you said, making a choice is hard. Very hard. Best wishes to you 🙂

          • Richa said

            Thanks so much for your words.

            You’re right I am not that far. Though I hope I’m never in a situation that requires me to fly home in a hurry. Gosh. Makes me feel so scared.

            I don’t think I’d ever be able to take a decision.

  20. Just last night I had a terrible dream, in which my dad was not ok (it hurts to even *say* it), and i was helpless. I woke up so may times to reassure myself and said silent prayers in between. I know what it’s like, don’t worry. I hope this was just a fluke thing and your dad is okay otherwise *hugs*

    • Pepper said

      I know exactly what you mean. It does hurt to even say it. I am usually paranoid about expressing my fears and saying it out all out aloud too. Thanks CC!

  21. Anusha said

    I know how difficult it is to avoid or face this constant worry when you are not with parents….I deal with the same every single day…..

    Hope your Dad is fine by now….

    Take care 🙂

  22. Scribby said

    oh dear! Hugs peppy…I know this fear and I understand what you are going through!! It’s tough to settle down even if things on the other side seems alright..the reason being we are far away..and when we can’t see for ourselves,unless we are assured of the situation by taking in all by ourselves,the mind keeps racing 😦

    don’t worry,things certainly are alright and they’ll stay like that….just stay calm,okay?

  23. popbiscuit said

    Pepper- I understand this as I often feel terribly helpless and useless sitting miles away from my parents and unable to be there and do anything.Though in a case like this there is probably nothhing much you can do, except physically being there…sending good thoughts and prayers your way.
    Hey, can you possibly make a quick trip to India and see them..might put your mind at rest after seeing your dad and also cheer them up a bit…

  24. Nitya said

    Hugs Pepper. Big fat hugs. Its the scariest thing sitting hundreds of miles not knowing and wondering and worrying your head off. I cannot imagine a worse situation, trust me I am there in that position.
    Stay strong. My prayers for a quick recovery for Uncle and tons of strenght and love coming your way.

    Its going to be ok, you know that righ?


    • Pepper said

      I am sure you understand it, considering you are in the very same position. This whole thing is so scary, it makes me question the worth of living here all the time. Sigh.
      But yes, I want to believe it will all be okay. Thanks for reassuring me. Lotsa love to you too.

  25. divday said

    I completely understand how you feel. My mum is diabetic and insulin dependent. During my last visit to India she had low sugar and started talking like a child. She refused to get out of the auto thinking that she has come to the wrong house. It was scary. On top of it she is extremely clumsy. She has fractured three time already and has had 13 operations so far. My mum, me and my sis are very close and its sad that she is getting old . I want my daughter to spend as much time with her as possible and get to know her patti.

    She has been my role model and single handedly she has taken care of both my sister and I. Wish i was in India close to her and taking care of her everyday.

    Hope your dad gets better soon ..


    • Pepper said

      Oh Div, such constant fears are so hard to live with. Especially if the fears concern your parents. I do hope and pray for your mom’s health and safety.
      My dad does seem to be better. Thanks.

  26. RK said

    ((((hugs)))) to you girl! I can understand your plight. Its easy to say “dont worry” but we only can understand the pain we go through. I feel it in slow-motion in fact :-(((

  27. I could identify with this so much!! I share such close relationship with my mom and sis. I call every single day. Something S did not understand in our initial dating days (he calls his folks once a week!!!). Whether it is for asking how to cook a particular veggie or to ask which dal is what (Dal confusion seems to my never-ending woe) or just to tell a joke I just read, I call for the weirdest reasons. Same with them.
    Even my mom as weak bones and suffered a fracture in her shoulder last year. She is fine now, but every time she goes out to run errands, I tell her to give me a missed call when she reaches safely home, so that I can breathe in peace. I even worry when she is coming down to the living room from the upstairs computer room. It freaks me that she will fall on the steps and hurt herself. And my worrying so much is a constant topic of making jokes between mom and sis. But then, I cant help not being worried. They are the only reason I am ok with moving to india in a couple of years. This traveling 24 hrs to meet them just once a year arrangement somehow does not fit in my mind.

    • forgot to add- I do hope your dad is ok now, and I wish he has a good trip.

      • Pepper said

        You said it. I call my family every single day. It’s a ritual. Sometimes our talk is so lame. By some chance if I don’t call them, they call me and ask me why I haven’t called. And Mint talks to his family once in a week.
        I so totally understand your fears, just as you understand mine. Meeting once a year after long hours of travel does not seem like a good enough deal at all.
        Dad seems okay now, I only hope he really is. Thanks.

  28. {{Hugs}}

    You stay strong.

    As you said, they would want you to be that.

    Besides, it’s all good now, right? 🙂

    {{Hugs}} again.

  29. Uma said

    I lost my mom when I was 21. She was just 48. Me and my sister were very close to my mom. At times, I wonder how different life would have been if she was with us today. She did so much for us…but we could not do much for her. I do not feel any pull towards returning back to India, mainly because she is not there. Anways, all one can do is enjoy the present and make beautiful memories.

    • Pepper said

      Very sorry to hear that Uma. I am sure it still pains, but do know that she is watching over you, and that she is in a good place. I don’t blame you for not feeling that pull towards India. Stay happy and strong, wherever you are.

  30. Preethi said

    Hugs Pepper. I do understand the situation you are in right now, and recently I have been thinking if it is really worth staying abroad away from loved ones when we can’t be with our parents when they need us the most.

    I am the younger one in the family and my parents usually hide things like this from me as I tend to get very worried. They only inform me later and somehow manage to cover up though I call them every single day. My day is incomplete if I don’t update my mom on what has happened in my life that day.

    I pray that your dad gets well very soon. Take care.

    • Pepper said

      The worry amplifies when we know parents hide things from us. It’s always like that with us too. I hide every worrisome aspect about my life from my parents, and they do the same. It’s a sad and stupid game we play with each other, knowing well what the other is upto. Anyway, thanks.

  31. RS said

    {{HUGS}} I had tears in my eyes as I read this. Hope your Dad is doing fine now… You take care too…

    I can so relate to your worry – My Dad also has BP and cholestrol but there is no telling him to ocntrol his diet which adds to the worry 😦

  32. Gayatri said

    Oh no! I really do hope everything is okay back home. *fingers crossed* for your dad 🙂

    I’m exactly like you. I am constantly worried about the well being of my family. I talk/text/facetime with them every day, even if it’s just for 2 – 3 minutes. I get very anxious otherwise.

  33. Ar said

    Pepper, I live a few cities from my parent’s town. But, still your post resonates with my fears.. and it definitely requires a lot of courage to put that down. Articulating those fears through a letter/ blog let alone talking about has been so difficult for me. The last time I did, I broke down. I am sure, you feel more at peace after having written it down and it does give me more strength knowing that so many people go through the same fears. I hope this makes you feel better. And am sure, your dad will get better soon 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I do feel more positive after writing it down here, and knowing how many of us face the same issue. How we’re not alone.
      Thanks Ar. My dad seems to be better now. 🙂

  34. Jack Point said

    Hope things work out well. Be strong.

  35. shail said


  36. DI said

    I kinda understand what you are saying. I mean, we stay in the same country, and still I worry about being away from my parents. It is scary really.

    Hugs and prayers for you, I am sure your Dad will be fine, and I hope you soon find a way of being closer to them 🙂

  37. Hugs Pepper!! Hope your dad is doing fine now. Don’t worry.Everything will be fine soon!!

  38. Tanishka said

    I can totally understand what you go through coz I often go through a similar helplessness when I just can not go home coz of distance and work… Hugs gal…

    • Pepper said

      Take heart T. I know it’s not easy, but atleast you are not more than 3 hours away from your parents. You can always get to them soon, should a need arise.

  39. seema3 said

    Cant even imagine how tensed you must have been when your sister mentioned that episode to you. Glad all’s back to well and your dad is fine.



  40. Mahes said

    Hugs Pepper, hope your Dad feels better now. Me too, call my parents everyday. When there is a midnight call, my heart skips a few beats. My thoughts are with you.

  41. Shruti said

    Hey…I understand this feeling completely…I worry about my parents back home all the time…I hope your dad is better now, and I hope you are feeling stronger too. All we can do it is have faith, and like you said try to be strong….

  42. Roxana said

    I hope uncle is fine now. I read your post yesterday, but just couldn’t get myself to comment on it. I know what you mean – when I get married and have to go away, I have this selfish, selfish desire to wrap my folks and sis in a bubble- wrap and take them with me. I worry if my sister and I will be in two parts of the world, post- marriage. I don’t want us all living far away from each other. I want to live a street away from my folks and sister, dropping by at home for sunday lunch and late dinners, whenever I want to. I want to run errands for dad, take ma to the doctor or that saree exhibition. Arrggh. Pepper, here’s a prayer for your family and hoping everyone is healthy, happy and safe.

    • Pepper said

      I can see that you feel the same was as I do Rox. Aren’t these the small things that make like worth while? All this matters to me so much more than the so called career highs, rich life styles and other things the world craves for.
      Don’t worry babe. When I wasn’t married, I prayed that I find a partner who lives close to my family. That didn’t happen, but I am still looking for ways to get closer to my parents. We can both still pray that you and your sister find a partner who doesn’t take you away from the world you love. Hugs! 🙂

  43. chandni said

    My wishes and prayers with you and your family pepper. Keep up the faith. Hugs.

  44. ajay said

    Lots of strength to you and lots wishes and health to your dad, Pepper. In such times ask God to take care of everything and He will because He has to. 🙂 He does in my case. 🙂

  45. Laila said

    I am not sure if I ever commented here… but, I have read many of your posts.
    This one, in particular, really tocuhed me… I totally identify with you. I feel exactly the same about my parents. And, I am also living in the US at the moment while they are in India.
    I cannot tell you how many times I wake up in the middle of the night, all scared and helpless. And then, I speak to my mom and dad and they assure me they are fine. The relief I get on hearing their voice in a normal tone is beyond explanation.
    I am glad you are going back to India. There is nothing more important than your parents. I wish you all the strength and happiness.

    • Pepper said

      Hi Laila. I guess you have commented once before. I always feel happy to note how common such scenarios are, that such problems are faced by everybody, that I am not alone. I wish you all the strength you need too.
      And thanks so much.

  46. earthwire said

    Its a long time ago that you wrote this post… and I hope everything is good now…
    I too am worrying about my folks… We are equally worried, if I could not take their call or they missed to take my call…
    Its one thing that doesn’t let me stay away from country for a long time… and I can only imagine, how worried you would be when you were so far away….

    • Pepper said

      🙂 I still shudder when I think of those moments. Being in the same country gives me immense peace of mind and it is what makes the whole decision of moving back so worth it!

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