When you leave, you leave so much behind.
I was fortunate enough to met him in person only a couple of times.
I insisted he at least briefly stop by one the parties we hosted during the holidays.
Despite his busy schedule, he swung by to just say hello to Amma and me.
That is when he brought this lucky bamboo.
He gave it to Amma, said hello to me and rushed off.
He didn’t even stay for dinner.
I was fortunate enough to live beside her as a neighbor for only about a year.
Then, I had to pick up and leave.
She is Gujarati but spoke excellent Tamil.
Ari adored her daughters.
She shared walks with me.
One rainy day, she made the most excellent sago vadais that I ever had and served it with chai.
These two people never met each other.
When I picked up and left CA, I left behind all the potted plants that people had ever given me during my 15 year stint in CA.
I left them with a girl Kavita Patel) who has a green thumb and who I knew would give the plants more love and attention then Appa or I ever did.
All the roses that had been brought to me over the years, that had been trimmed by Appa or Kumar, planted carefully, nourished with love and had blossomed in the spring…. I had to leave all those behind in the backyard.
I had to leave them behind because there was no place in the minivan after we had packed 2 kids, 1 dog and some bare essentials to start over our life in Austin.
There was just no space…except for the tiny lucky bamboo he had given me.
The night before I left CA, she had left a bag hanging on my door knob.
The bag had a plastic container filled with aloo masala and poori in an alumininum foil pack.
She texted me later saying that “You have several 1000 miles to drive in couple of days. I don’t want you to worry to stop for food. Enjoy the pooris and aloo masala.”
When I picked up and left CA, I brought a piece of each of them with me.
After we settled in, I re-planted the lucky bamboo he gave me in the plastic container she gave me.
Every time I water the bamboo, I say a prayer for them both and their lovely families.
I also say “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”.
Translation: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”.
The He in the story is my buddy Gopal Kumarappan.
The She in the story is my friend Ami Parikh.