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Saturday, August 10, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 90


How Chicken Pox Almost Stole Our Dream 

In his childhood, the only wish Rayyan had was of visiting New York. Whenever I would ask him, “What do you want Rayyan?” regarding a gift, toy, picnic or even dinner, he would promptly answer “America” which meant that he wanted to visit NYC. As a child America meant NYC to him but later he became specific that he wanted to visit the city. I am not sure what fascinated him so much about this place. As for me, I loved the Disney characters as a child. Once, when I heard about Disney World, I wanted to be there at least for once in my lifetime.
Though we went through lot of ups and downs in our life, the thread of this dream remained entangled in our fingers and we did not give up on it. Managing Farheena in an unknown country was a challenge and we did not have the courage to even to think of it.
Finally, when on a cancer support board which I was a part of, I mentioned how we both dreamed of visiting our favourite places. All assumed that I have made a typo and mentioned that my child wanted to visit NYC and me Disney World. When I clarified, they laughed out loud that a mom wanted to visit Disney World and child NYC. When they met us in USA, they realized that there is role reversal very often in our family. Sometimes, Rayyan is the responsible parent, sometimes Farheena is and yeah, I play that role few times as well. When I try to play extra hours, or eat too many chocolates, try to buy unnecessary toys to play with, they both warn me to ‘behave’. I rarely get that opportunity. Sigh!
Coming back to the plan, since now we had friends who loved us and would guide us during our visit there, especially who would take care of Farheena and ensure her safety, we started making arrangements for the tour. I was abruptly married off and I did not collect my TC from college, which was required for the passport. When I visited the college, the lecturer there was very helpful and pulled out the TC which was gathering dust for 2 decades. It looked as though there was someone out there arranging things for us to work smoothly. I never believed in miracles, but here it was happening since we decided to go to USA. The biggest miracle was Rizwan agreeing to give his consent to take Farheena abroad, without which we couldn’t go. Later I got to know that with the type of visit we were planning for, one of his colleagues told him that the chances of visa being sanctioned to us at the first try was less than 5%. Apart from him, there were many who told us how their visa had been rejected at the US embassy. But, I often ignore such soothsayers and continue with what I want to do.
Rayyan and Farheena were highly excited when our appointment at the Chennai US embassy was confirmed. My mom’s friend Heidi confirmed on our way back she would show us around NYC, since it was Rayyan’s dream which he had shared with her when she was visiting us. Judy was staying just in front of the Art Museum in Philadelphia and we could visit the Rocky steps and statue with her. Everything was working out like someone at the higher power was working to make this tour memorable for us.
Just a couple of days before we were to leave for the embassy, Rayyan came down with fever and next morning he had the signs of chicken pox on his face. Finally, at the reversal of the miracle, I decided if he gets it, I should ensure that Farheena gets it as well, so that we can be done with this chicken pox for once and then go ahead with our plan. I wanted to put her beside Rayyan, but the next morning, even before I could infect her, she showed the signs of chicken pox which made me very happy. Don’t consider that I am cruel mom, because they both have shared all the infections together. If one gets cold, the other will be down in a few days. It is same with fever, cough or anything else. I feel it is best if they can both get sick together so that I have don’t have to take care of the other one just as I am trying to relax after one is healed. Luck was on my side and they both went through the chicken pox episode and were done with it, just in time for us to visit the embassy. I had honestly mentioned the reason for cancelling the appointment, though many wanted me to avoid mentioning chicken pox for cancelling the appointment. We just had enough time to get our visa since Rayyan’s holidays were about to start shortly.
Off we went to Chennai with my brother and attended the interview for the visa. Two people were who went there before us were rejected visa for time being, even though they had genuine reason of visiting their child who was working there.

When our turn came, I went towards the window where the interviewer sat, and answered the questions he asked me. I mentioned the purpose of the visit was meet our friends. They all had written beautiful letters to the embassy why they wanted to meet us, praising us sky high. Though Rayyan and Farheena were praised again so highly, that was my only shot at such a fame. The guy at the embassy after grilling me even about the expenses and how would I manage it, finally told me he would talk to Rayyan and later Farheena. Rayyan had just few questions thrown at him, before he abruptly asked, would you like to study further in USA? He said, “I can arrange a student’s visa for you, and if you feel you have good chance of doing better there, you can continue studying there”. Rayyan honestly replied, “Sir, at present we are just planning to visit our friends and I don’t have any other plans. In case something works out I will apply for it again”. I couldn’t believe the person was actually trying to convince Rayyan to stay in USA. Later he said, you people can go and summoned the next group of people. I was shocked, that we couldn’t get the visa because he did not interview Farheena. When I asked him, when we should come back again for the visa, laughing at my disappointment he said, “Oh! I meant that I am very convinced by the young man here that you can visit our country. I don’t see the need to interview your daughter at all. Are you sure he wouldn’t want to stay back and continue his studies there?” We had just overcome the biggest hurdle in our path of visiting USA and we did not hide our joy. He felt genuinely happy for us as well and wished us all the best before sending us off. I had visa for ten years and Rayyan and Farheena for 5 years each.
Initially I thought that the chicken pox was reversal of miracle; but, later I realized later it was not, because it came at the right time. If we missed that window of visiting USA, it would never happen again for us when Rayyan joined college. I am not sure what appealed to the Americans about Rayyan, from the embassy, airport, our stay in USA, and when we came back to India, they helped him out in every way possible. Finally after enjoying our time for four months, we embarked on our journey to fulfil Rayyan’s dream of visiting NYC. The city was much more fascinating than we had imagined, especially during the night. Farheena and I had no energy left in us to run around NYC but Rayyan went around the city, and visited many more places than we did. He loved his time there. As a highlight of our visit, Judy arranged for us to watch Cirque de Soleil in Broadway which was amazing experience for all of us.
I am still amazed how things worked out for us and how pleasant our experience was. When we genuinely wish for something, like how I wished to take Rayyan to NYC when he would ask for it innocently as a child, the universe will conspire to make it happen for us.

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