An interesting case of Real life Baghban
During my high school days we had a visitor; we used to call him “Maam” (since he was a konkoni) affectionately. He was an officer in the local bank branch which my father used to frequent and they became good friends. Despite big age difference between my father and him they got along very well and our families too got along famously with each other. Maam had just married then and his wife used to come home asking for quick recipes from my mother.
My father expired when I was in my 10th std and slowly over time our families had grown apart and our occasional contact with them was to wish for festivals or give invitation for some or other celebration at our homes. When I got my MBBS seat in Mysore, Maam became active and helped me a lot, with a scholarship application and a small bank loan. It continued during my PG days too and he became my go to person whenever I needed advice on any matter. It should not surprise you to know that I still bank with Syndicate bank and they should thank Maam for my loyalty.
Maam was ideal person in every way, ideal husband to his wife, great father to kids and a great friend to have. He had two children, a boy and a girl and people used to joke about him being “Hum do humare do” rule book follower. His kids were very smart, his daughter went on to become a banker like him married a guy from Singapore and relocated. His son did his mechanical engineering from NIE, Mysore and did a computer course from Apple institute. Those days Apple in India was known as an education provider in computer courses. He got a job in Ashok Leyland and I was one of the first to receive a call from Maam, his voice beaming with pride.
The son did not stay in India for long; he got a job in an auto design company in Detroit and moved there. Maam was in cloud nine of happiness. Years passed and due to some reason the daughter became aloof with Maam and his wife. They had fights for various reasons and sometimes very silly ones. It all started with Maam refusal to send his wife to Singapore when the daughter wanted her (ostensibly to do the job of a baby sitter), I supported him when the issue was brought to me casually by the daughter on one of our visits to Singapore. She became sore with us too.
Maam on his part became more attached to his son; both Maam and maami had visited him twice in US, son had now married a US citizen (arranged marriage) and had two kids himself. Maam used to be awake at night many times to see the activity of his grandkids on skype and used to regale us with their stories whenever we met. On one such skype meeting, his son suggested that Maam and Maami should relocate to US. Maam was very happy with the offer but declined saying that he had lived his life here and built his home and hearth here so will stay back. It continued to and fro, for a while and finally Maam and maami relented after his daughter in law also started requesting him to move saying the grandkids will be very happy with them there.
The logistics were humongous for Maam and maami, they had built their life here so leaving everything was painful. They sold as much of their belongings as they could, rest they gave it away to people who they knew, sometimes even to people who were total strangers. Son called them one day and informed, that he has a buyer for their home and it was a decent price (real estate was not scarily high then), Maam & maami took a week to decide and finally agreed to sell their home which they loved so much. Son told them he will take care of their VISA and necessary immigration documents and bring them when he comes visiting, before Maam & maami immigrate to US.
The son’s family arrived from US on the designated day, Maam was very happy I remember him narrating to me that the feeling was bitter sweet. Son’s family had only 10 days to be in India and they were supposed to leave to US from Delhi after meeting distant relatives of his wife there. Maam’s home was sold to a friend of his son and they gave Maam & maami a month’s time to vacate it.
Everything looked Ok till then however, I suspected something was amiss when son told Maam to transfer the money got after selling the home to his account so that it can be converted to dollars. I told Maam to be careful (in hindsight, I feel I was not persuasive enough) and told him that the money belongs to daughter too, not just son although she is estranged now. Maam who would have advised others to be careful fell for the trap of love shown by his son, daughter in law and did the unthinkable by his standards: he transferred the money to his son’s account.
A week later the son, his wife and kids left to Delhi saying that they will fly to US directly from Delhi and Maam, maami should fly from Bangalore. He handed over their passports and enclosed cover with tickets to fly to US.
When the day arrived Maam and maami arrived in Bangalore we met them and wished them luck requested them to keep in touch and sent them, their flight was at midnight. It was eight years ago just before we ourselves were supposed go to Canada on a 2 year contract, I remember the day like it happened yesterday nay.. like it is happening now.
Around 3 AM, I got a call from Maam almost sobbing (he must have cried continuously before calling me) telling me that the tickets in the cover given by the son were old and used earlier, passports did not have active US VISA status and when he called his son, the phone was only giving busy tone. I called a doctor friend of mine living near airport to go to airport, pick up Maam, maami and drop them in my mother’s place.
What turned out was “Fraud” to Maam and maami by their son. Maam and maami were devastated to their core, but we were not taking it lying down. I called my friend in US a very senior Cardiologist “Dr V” a very successful and wealthy doctor there (to give a measure of his wealth: Dr V’s home has a private hangar for his jets) he heard the story and decided to help. It took sometime but eventually, Maam & maami got US VISA on Dr V’s invitation and we sent them to US with prayers that they can meet their son and drive some sense into him.
Dr V hosted them in their home and immediately took a liking for Maam, he took up their case passionately, found the son and invited him and his wife to his home. Once the meeting happened the son; albeit reluctantly knew he had been cornered, he was no match for the might of Dr V and his friends, they threatened him with impossible consequences and put it blankly to the couple that their life in US will be finished if Maam and maami file a case against them in US with Dr V’s support. The couple apologised and transferred the money back to Maam’s account. Dr V made the son to promise to pay whatever extra that is required to buy back Maam’s home in India and redo it (they had given away everything they had made for themselves as their home).
Maam died two years ago in his own home but a very sad man. He was never able to come to terms with what his kids did to him. He never spoke to his son or spoke to us about them after he came back from US. He was heartbroken.
Dr Jagadish J Hiremut is a superspecialist medical doctor based out of Bangalore, a medical author, blogger, medical technology expert and is a proponent of Value Based Ethical Medical practice.
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