When Ma And I Travelled Together, We Were Asked ‘You TWO Are Travelling Alone?’

Now that Ma is no more, I so miss those trips with her. But I hope to continue this tradition with my daughter; there's no better way to bond.

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‘You two are travelling alone?’

The first time we heard that question, we were in splits. Of course, we didn’t laugh out loud in front of the person asking that question, but later when we were alone. We must have been asked that question twenty times during that particular trip.

Reason?

We were travelling ‘alone’ abroad without our husbands. Ma and I had finally decided to have our first trip abroad after having travelled to many places in India. We were never asked that question when we travelled domestically. Also, at that time I was not married (as if that should make a difference).

But this tour group we had joined – yes, we thought for our first trip abroad a group would be a good idea – had about twenty families/couples and each one of them asked us that question on different occasions; once we had boarded our flight, while waiting for the bus, in the bus, while eating and some even asked that question while we stood in a line to use a loo during a pit-stop.

The question of how our husbands had ‘allowed’ us to travel without them

But the absolute Jaffa was – ‘So, they (as in the respective husbands) allowed you to come alone?’

I was more impulsive back then and knowing this Ma touched my arm lightly to indicate I better keep my mouth-trap shut. But I was really tempted to say, ‘Yeah! They actually don’t keep us locked in the house and allow us to roam around and go out at all hours.’

When we returned to our room that night Ma told me to be happy that we have husbands who ‘allowed’ us to take a trip ‘alone’. There are thousands of women who do not have this freedom. It was certainly a sobering thought, and I did thank God that we were not in that situation. Not only had our husbands ‘allowed’ us, but they had actively encouraged us to take the trip.

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Now you have to understand that this trip was taken nearly 22 years ago. And back then, I don’t know if this is still the norm, but even the tour group company made our respective husbands sign an NOC. That had been insulting and weird. But sometimes you have to roll with the punches, to win the match.

But in spite of this weirdness, we had a great trip. The women with their husbands on the trip were jealous of us because we could shop till we literally dropped without having a whining husband by our side and the ones who had young kids were jealous because we were unencumbered by ‘I am hungry mommy & I want to go potty’. Full respect to women who do that, but at that particular time, my Ma’s baby was all grown up and I didn’t have kids, so were as free as birds.

The most memorable family trips I’ll always cherish

But the best part was not the trips we took when I was unmarried or when our husbands ‘allowed’ us to travel. The best trips were later in our lives. When my dad passed away, we shifted Ma to Mumbai, to be closer to us. By this time my twins were 6 years old.

It was the many short trips we took, the whole family, husband and twins, Ma and I that were the most memorable. Who says that a daughter’s mother cannot travel with the son-in-law or shouldn’t travel or it’s not the norm.

Those trips were a win-win for all. Ma got to spend time with the twins, which gave us much needed couple-time. I spent time with the twins and son-in-law and mother-in-law got time to bond. And husband took care of the twins and Ma and I could stroll the beach or check out the bazaar as we pleased.

It was during these trips that I truly appreciated all that Ma had done for us. It was when I had my family that I realized how much of ourselves we have to invest into our relationships, the balancing act, the prioritization that is required to make a house a home. It was during these trips that Ma shared some of her life with me. When she gave me advice, she peppered them with tales with her experiences.

Now she is no more, and I so miss those trips with her. But I hope to continue this tradition with my daughter. I am committed to making it happen soon. There is no better way to bond and create memories and moments than while travelling.

I have graduated and the roles are reversed. I am the mom now. And like Ma used to wake up and get dressed before me allowing me extra time to sleep, it’s my turn to do the same. And like I always took care of the luggage it’s my daughter’s turn to step-up now. And luckily for me, my daughter loves to travel and eat out and experiment with different cuisines. I can’t wait to see where these trips will take us, literally and figuratively.

Image source: a still from the film Jhimma

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About the Author

Shweta Singh

I am a passionate storyteller. I’ve my own short stories and poems podcast called Shweta’s Basket, available on eighteen of the most popular podcast platforms and also on YouTube. Along with podcasting, I read more...

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