10 years! I hadn’t visited India in 10 years! I know what you’re thinking, that is a long time! 10 years ago, I came back from India absolutely hating it. I hated the mentality, the dirt, the lack of order…everything. I was just not a fan! So when it was time to go back I was more than terrified. You see, my trip was not a usual trip. My grandfather was battling a very rare form of terminal cancer called nuro-endocrine bile duct cancer that metastasized to his liver. He was given 2-3 months to live when he was diagnosed here in Canada. This cancer grew and evolved in just a week. When symptoms start to show up, that means it’s too late. Despite being categorized as ‘terminal’ we did it all, chemo, homeopathy, and above all we prayed like we never prayed before. My grandfather was more of a father to me than my real father so you can imagine how rough of a time this was for myself and my family. With God’s grace my grandfather started to appear better. His tumours were not shrinking in size and his cancer was spreading each minute but my grandfather did not lose hope. He defied odds and fought harder than a soldier on the battlefield. He wasn’t on bed rest, he walked, he was independent and most importantly he never stopped smiling. He decided he wanted to go to India to visit gurdwaras and see my cousins. At this point he had surpassed the 3 months! He went to India 5 months after he got diagnosed. 5 months. I wasn’t bluffing when I said my grandfather was a fighter. In India he was even more happy, he loved the weather, the environment, and the atmosphere. One thing was missing. He wanted to see his family together. It had been 10 years since we were all under one roof. Bhapaji told my mom that this year we needed to come, and we needed to come fast. This was in December, all university students know that this is finals time. I didn’t care though, if my Bhapaji wants to have his family together then that’s what he was going to get. I got my exams moved and we booked our tickets for December the 15th.
13 days before our flight Bhapaji passed away.
He had everything done for us to make our trip more comfortable. New dishes, our favourite types of cereals, favourite sodas, anything you can think of was arranged for us. He was counting the days until our arrival.
Just like that he was gone. There were no signs of him becoming weak or being bed ridden. He just left. He was gone. 13 days before seeing his whole family together.
Those were the circumstances of my trip. I was going back to India for the most heart breaking reason and I was not looking forward to it at all. I kept thinking bhapaji will be right there waiting for us to come home. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he was gone and quite frankly I didn’t want to. I didn’t want it to be real. Loss is never easy, even as I write this I am unsuccessfully fighting back tears.
When we got to Delhi after a 48 hour delay, it’s needless to say that my family and I were exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, and physically we were drained. Honestly, Delhi might not be as bad as I am about to make it sound but the parts that I saw on the way to Punjab were utterly atrocious. It was dirtier than any city I have ever been to, there was smog like you wouldn’t believe, and the toilets….do not get me started on the toilets. Let’s just say that women there don’t find it necessary to use toilet paper….like how?!?!
The drive from Delhi to Punjab is about 7 hours and let me tell you, those 7 hours felt like FOREVER. Why? because Indian vehicles tend to be a lot less spacious than the ones we have here and drivers there have absolutely no care for the law. Seriously! No one uses lanes or indicators. Hell, there will be vehicles coming right at you and it’s no big deal. No.one. uses. lanes. I was terrified of the roads there.
When we got into Punjab I started to relax. Not because the driving got better, but because the view was just breathtaking. I love fields and seeing so many of them made my heart glow. Bhapaji loved his kheti or farming, thus my love for fields and greenery comes from him. It felt like home. I was home.
On our way to Jalandhar we stopped in Sirhind-where Fatehgarh sahib is located. This is where the chote sahibzaade had their antam sinskar done after being enclosed alive in a brick wall, in Sirhind. Take that in. I feel incredibly blessed to have walked on the same ground that has a huge role in Sikh History. It was as if I was in another world when I stepped on those grounds. It was blissful not just for my broken heart, but for my soul.
I will continue the rest of my travels in another post! Until then enjoy the pictures from Fatehgargh sahib I took.