That envelope changed my life. It was the proverbial “fork in the road”. I like to believe my life could have been so much less complicated, if I had chose the road I didn’t take. I don’t really know if that is true though. The idea of a time machine to go back and change things is so appealing. Instead of all this, instead of knowing what I know, I could have been innocent and naive. Instead of everything that has happened and everything about to fall down on us, the idea that it could all be different, that thought gives me a false comfort.
In my dreams, it is changed. When I close my eyes, I don’t stay in my chair when I see that envelope. No, I run for my life. I go to my suitcase. I grab my passport and wallet and make my getaway. I run as a man who has seen a ghost. I never look back till I safely reach my home in Canada. My house isn’t burned down to the ground. Instead, I open the front door. I drink cold clean water from our well and watch the most beautiful sunsets in the world. I sleep safe in my bed.
When I open my eyes, both of you are not there. Running away means that you never exist. Why can’t I have both peaceful dreams and my two precious children? Sadly, I close the door of my time machine. I can’t go back and change history. I must face the reality of what I did. I sat there and stayed silent.
Three businessmen entered the office. They were wearing the white khadi clothes that many Indian men wear in rural areas. As they came in, they passed a bulging envelope to the assistant. As the men sat down, they began to exchange pleasantries with the man behind the desk. As they talked, the assistant brought the envelope by me. The assistant bent over and hid the envelope behind the desk so that only the assistant, me and the man behind the desk could see it.
The assistant opened the envelope to let us have a look inside. My eyes bulged out of my head when I saw that it was stuffed full of 1000 rupees notes (maybe worth $1000-$2000 in total). The man behind the desk quickly glanced down and quietly nodded. The assistant opened the middle drawer on the right hand side of the desk and put it with dozens of other similar envelopes. The casualness and efficiency of it made me feel like this had been done thousands of times before. There was no effort made to count the money. It was just quickly put away and never discussed.
This was my test. I passed and I was now truly a part of the family.
The man behind the desk was your grandfather; Mr. B.T. Nghinglova, Deputy General of Police, Nasik Range, Maharashtra.
Now I understood why Mommy never took the gold or the money mentioned in my last letter.