• Mohana Prabhakar

Being a mom

Kids are a responsibility for life, right? I don’t think anyone who has children, irrespective of age, can deny that. Whether they are three or 30, you just can’t stop worrying about them, crying over every bruised knee and bruised heart, and always praying for their health and happiness. We don’t need to pray for wealth though because as parents, we are always around to provide that and the less said about it the better.

I am not someone who worries about things all of the time. I plan for the best and adjust along the way when things go off-course as it’s bound to. But all my rules and logic get thrown out of the window when it comes to my son.

When Junior travels I am always on tenterhooks, always paranoid and my fingers are permanently crossed. Before anyone assumes I am a crazy, obsessive mom, let me give you some examples. In the beginning, it was harmless enough. A long, long time ago, when Junior was really a junior and traveling by himself, I remember getting a call around 1.30am at a time when he should have boarded his connecting flight. It went like this: “Hi Mom, do you know where my gate is? I can’t find it.”

Now I can’t really blame him for this because it’s a genetic disorder. I have got hopelessly lost in a mall in New Jersey, called three cabs and missed all because I couldn’t find the exit. I have gone round and round Houston airport trying to find the train to take me to another terminal. I would have probably still been there like Viktor Navorski, had a very sweet old gentleman not helped me find my way.

To get back to Junior, all the little travel issues graduated to the big league when his passport was stolen. He was home from college and decided to go to Mumbai with friends for Christmas and New Year. He arrived there just fine but a few days later, I got a call, by which time I was in India on a business trip. “Mom, someone broke in and stole my backpack, my shoes and stuff last night.” Stuff included a wallet with very little money, his Oman resident card, his college ID, college room keys, a credit card and his passport.

If you are not Indian, you have no idea what losing your passport in India means. I am Indian, and neither did I. I took a flight to Mumbai, and within a day, along with Junior I headed for the passport office at 7am armed with a copy of the police report, the mandatory ‘missing passport’ ad I placed in the newspaper at an extortionate rate and of course

the forms in triplicate and photos.

I did the rounds along with Junior for five days, and each time after a long wait, the man at the counter accepting the applications found something wrong or lacking. After days of explaining that we had no address proof for Junior in India as we did not live there any more, on the final day we were told that unless we had our address proof in Mumbai, they couldn’t issue a fresh passport.

That’s when I lost it and demanded to see the head honcho, the passport officer. This was his first response to my desperate attempts to explain the jam we were in: “Madam, how do I know you both are really who you say you are? How do I know you are not terrorists and making new passports in every city?” I went back to the hotel to weep, Junior left to party with friends.

And next morning on December 31st, he woke up to find that the backpack thief had revisited the crime scene and left him a present: His passport, keys, an empty wallet and ID cards. (Junior thinks it was an inside job). I wept again because I wouldn’t have to step foot in that passport office again and could finally return home. Junior was a tad upset he didn’t get his shoes back.

That brings me to what’s happening now. Junior travelled on Thursday last week for a five-day visit to India. I got a series of messages that night in these exact words:


Did you know my passport expires on April 11th? In like 10 days basically.

The guy at immigration said I won’t be able to leave India until I renew but that’s nonsense right?

I haven’t really slept since. When he gets back, I think I’ll just ground him for evermore.

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