On Cloud 9

On Cloud 9

What a perfect summer day! A Sunday morning in New York City with nothing to do. Raj packed his picnic lunch; cold beer, burger and chips; before heading out to his most favourite place in the whole world…. Central Park! This was his ‘go to place ‘ in the city. The trees, the lush green slopes, the birds, the lake…   all reminded him of home. The only thing missing was the chai and vada pav seller! 

 It had been a hectic week at the hospital. Residency was really gruelling, but it was almost coming to an end. Raj remembered the days and months and years before he had got a chance to make his dream come true. From childhood, it had been a foregone conclusion that he would become a doctor. Brilliant grades had seen to that. However, no one knew that his secret wish was to go to America. But, as is oft the story, his mother could sense his restlessness. After that, there was no looking back. Finances were juggled, exams given, favourite Gods invoked till finally, happy smiles and tears mingled together at the airport. This was about five years ago.

 Now he had to make a call; Boston or Dallas for his fellowship. “Real tough call, huh”, he smirked. “Not bad for a small-town boy from India, is it?” 

Raj walked towards the grassy slope and lay down, looking up at the clear July sky. A procession of white cumulus clouds paraded slowly across the blue canvas. This triggered an unexpected ache in his heart and a long buried memory surfaced. 

It was the summer of 2005. The entire family was holidaying in Goa. Raj and his mother were sprawled on the sands, sky gazing. “Look, Ma!” said an eight year old Raj.” There is an elephant in the sky. Can you see those flappy ears and big trunk? See Ma, see. “His mother laughed and said,” Yes! However, can you see that giant? I wonder who can run faster, your elephant or my giant ? “This was a game that they had been playing as long as Raj could recall. To look at the clouds and see different images and shapes in the sky. The memory was so vivid that Raj could actually taste the parathas he had been gorging on!

Raj sat up with tears in his eyes. Just this morning, he had been speaking with his mother. She sounded unwell but in her usual, loving manner, had dismissed his worries. Since then, Raj had been searching for an answer. 

Suddenly, he looked up at the sky to see a giant shaped cloud float above him. Raj laughed aloud and yelled,” Yes, I am going home!”

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