Years ago we laid rough granite blocks (not exactly pavers) as steps, walls, pathways and patio. We filled the cracks with concrete and planted a yard and garden around the edges of the stone. This year, both monsoon seasons (six months of rain) skipped the Nilgiri mountains, and this December it's about as dry as these mountains get.
A flash of red caught my eye the other day, and I saw the most beautiful cluster of poppies I had ever seen, waving in the wind right in the middle of our stone pathway. I couldn't see the infinitesimal purchase of earth the seed had found, let alone the drop of moisture it needed to grow and bloom. As the heat and dryness have intensified I've noticed Alyssum and my favorite, purple Lobelia, shooting from cracks and crevices in the patio and rock walls. I didn't broadcast the seeds in the wind over the rocks. I didn't water them, and yet, unbelievably they are blooming best where almost nothing sustains them: little earth and even less water.
Our own purchase of land in these Indian hills feels almost as unsubstantial and tenacious as the few specs of dust that found their way into the crevices of the rocks. My brother in Idaho used the perfect word in a recent discussion about our current situation in India. “It's untenable,” he said. Yes. It is untenable.
The government of India has conducted a year-long multi-departmental investigation into our status as Oversees Citizens of India (permanent visas that promise almost all the rights of a citizen). The latest round of inquiry was headed by the CBI, India's equivalent of the FBI. With no conclusion or closure in sight of whether we can stay in India or not, we thought it best for Greg to travel to the UK to spend Christmas with our two oldest daughters, Kavi and Rachael. In addition to the typical separation of grown children heading off to college, we have had the added complication of 20,000 miles of distance and restricted travel opportunities due to our “Leave India Notice” delivered a little over one year ago. We thought the risk of Greg not being allowed to re-enter was small, and now, looking back, we must have minimised it.
When he crossed the border, his name immediately came up on a “wanted” list on the computer along with typed instructions to the immigration officers to seize his OCI card. The fact that his OCI card was confiscated without a final judgement on our case is fuel for our petition. I'll now ask the courts to request the government to return Greg's visa until we have closure on our status here in India. Our OCI rights have clearly been denied, and I suspect we are in for a long fight.
Greg made it to England and had the most wonderful Christmas with our girls, his sister, niece and nephew. Our family needed this, wonderful things gained, and others lost.
I find I am sadly ignorant of the finer mechanics of life, fixing the drip under the kitchen sink, jump-starting our car battery, making bank transfers and mending a broken sewage pipe. My delight at figuring out each of these puzzles is ridiculously unbounded. So, while he nurtures the girls in England, I've spent many of these post-Christmas days repairing things, or finding someone who can. Role reversals a really steep learning curve. I try to ignore the throbbing question. “When will I see him again?”
These are days I yearn to be as vibrant as the poppies thriving in the rocks, growing more vivid as the landscape grows starker. The truth is I feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing life without Greg and a clear, discernable end in sight, both of our separation and our court case. I am comforted by the knowledge that Morgan and Abbi can still go to Hebron school and that the three of us have the stability of hearth and home for now. We are still here. The reality is that our family is divided. The reality is also that the poppy is blooming brighter each day.