And then he started opening his case, his suitcase, and we all sat around it like curious kids. I thought of the Faujis who came on annual leave with bags full of gifts for all the members of the family. We felt the same. With a childlike curiosity I was waiting with a throbbing heart for my turn for a gift. Though, as a family, we have never inculcated a culture of gifts to the members of our family but I could feel the excitement of receiving a gift. Handing me a camera, my son said to me, “this is for my Mammu to take pictures and then to write.”
“But I already had a good camera and never needed another one”, I protested feebly though my strong but wrinkled hands had started to fondle lovingly the beauty! “And I am too old to learn to handle a DSLR”, I added.
“You,ll learn”, Ashu said and then added, “next time I would bring lenses to add on to this camera and you can take professional-like pictures.” He added dreamily, “I would bring a big bag-pack for this camera with many compartments which you can use to carry all the paraphernalia.” He even talked about his intention to buy a Tripod for taking excellent pictures. I thought of carrying a bag-pack only having a camera and its accessories and burst out laughing. I am a kind of person who travels very light carrying just bare essentials to harp on a bus or walk by myself. The big bad-pack with only a camera didn’t suit my persona but I didn’t it to my son as he had so many dreams about his gift to his Mammu!
It was not the camera, truthfully, that touched my heart but the account of how and why did he buy it for me that touched my very soul. I might have mentioned in my blogs that my Sony DSC H-1 was not working and might have lamented the loss of a faithful companion on my journeys that made my son think of gifting me a camera. He was a student at that point of time and had not much money to spend on such frivolities. He never asked us for any money for his maintenance when he was studying in the US. The job scene was not very good at that time and he, like many other students, was saving money from his part-time job to be used at the time when he would be staying in the US searching for a job, though he never shared this with us. Whenever we would ask him whether he needed any money, his answer would be a firm No.
In about less than three months he got his first job. He was happy. We were happy. And that day when I sat fondling the DSLR, a gift from my son, in my hands, he said to me, “Mumma, the first thing that I did when I got the job letter was to order online for this camera.”
My eyes filled with tears of gratitude. He said,”I had saved money from my part-time job on campus and now when I had full-time job offer, I wanted to buy this camera for you.”My son had saved money to sustain him in the US during his job-searching time. “We could have sent you the money, why you had to cut on your basic expenses?” I said him with a feeling of hurt in my voice. The fact that my son might have lived almost frugally pained me a lot. “But your job was gone and Papa was to retire in a few months so I didn’t want to burden you anymore”, he said in a mature voice. My little son had matured a lot. He always had valued money but now had learnt to use it judiciously. His mother’s travails had made him wise beyond his years. I could see how devastated he must have felt, in an alien country, when he must have learnt that his mother was suddenly out 0f job! A man of few words he kept his feelings to himself but became more determined to get a suitable job as soon as possible after his graduation. And when he finally got the job he wanted to buy a gift for us!
He had seen this camera and had wanted to buy that for his mother when he would have money. The fact that the money spent on this camera is the money my son had saved from his hard earned money makes it very precious to me. I can imagine him cutting on his expenses to save money when many of his friends were pampering themselves with the money that they earned. I thought of a chocolate that he may not have bought or an ice-cream that he may have deprived him of! I think of him cooking his food late in night after working at ITS when he could have dined outside. All these thoughts make me look at this camera with an added love as it symbolizes his love for us. It is not just a simple gift, it is his love personified!