Most of my waking thoughts are the same – I wonder if there’s any natter going on today. let’s see – reach out for my glasses and my mobile. The kids’ natter on the chat line puts a smile on my face and sets my day up nicely. Sometimes of course everybody gets tied up with different commitments and days go by without any sound and then somebody thinks of something and we’re back on. The normal ebb and flow of family discourse.
Days that stretch out to weeks and weeks of silence, though, are killers. Yet we are the only generation in the history of the human race that can communicate across continents at the click of a finger. One wonders how scores of mums and dads coped throughout history when their kids travelled out or were forcibly taken out across the oceans and when it took months to get any sort of news back from them, if you were blessed enough to do so. What sorts of feelings did they churn through, how did they live their lives every day without the sounds and heartbeats of their children – sounds that act as the very life-line for parents?
I’m reminded of my great-grandmother at the turn of the 19th and early 20th C in Punjab, India before partition divided the country up. Abandoned at a very early age, she only had one daughter and they were both looked after by great-grandma’s family. And then my grandfather arrived on the scene and married my grandmother, great-grandma’s only daughter. To top it all he was going to take her ‘across the seven seas’ to Kenya, East Africa, where he was working in the railways with his father, for the then mighty British Empire. Communication would only be by word of mouth ‘through the travellers grapevines’. The postal system was sparse and there were definitely no phones in those days!!
‘Haye Santram’ she had wailed, ‘will you really rip my only daughter from me and take her so far where I can never see her again? So far out across the seven seas? Wait till you have seven seven daughters – only then will you know how I feel today!!’ . She was quite inconsolable. Grandfather, however, the noble-man that he was, consoled and assured her by saying, “As soon as we are settled we will call you over and set you up there.”
He kept his word and great-grandma eventually ended up also living in Kenya where she set up a little business, selling beautiful materials brought over from India to sustain herself and not be a burden to her daughter and son-in-law. And, as fate would have it, true to great-grandma’s words spoken on that day of anguish, grandfather and grandmother did indeed end up having 7 daughters – and 3 sons. One of those daughters was my mother who also, as fate would have it, would bear the pain of living far across the seven seas to three of her children.
My mother had two sons and four daughters of whom I am one. And as fate would have it again, I too, live a life full of the pain of all my children living across the seven seas.
Funny, though, pain has its own outcomes and the God of our souls watches over every detail of our lives. The God of Hope will never fail ….
Across the Seven Seas .....