First Date


Dear Ezra and Lian,

I first visited India in June 1999. I went to visit my good friend; your “Uncle” Steve. Steve for years would spend half the year working in Canada in his roofing business and the other half volunteering at orphanages. Someone who also occasionally volunteered there was Mommy. One evening, Steve took me out to dinner with Mommy and Grandma.

I get sick a lot while traveling. It’s my own fault. I take a lot of risks while eating. I will eat almost anything. I’m not careful: especially with regards to washing my hands constantly. I don’t know if it was the food I ate at that meal with Mommy. I don’t know if it was the ice cream the next day. I just know, I got very sick.

I got gastroenteritis within my first few days in India. I ended up in the hospital overnight. Surprisingly to me, Mommy brought me coconut water and electrolytes to help me recover. I had just met her a day or two before. Yet here she was keeping me company in the hospital. Why didn’t she go home? She stayed by side for hours and hours.

Here’s the thing; gastroenteritis turns your belly into a balloon that feels like it is going to explode. I was so full of gas, I was in agony. There was your Mom. She stayed so long and she wouldn’t leave me alone, but she got tired. So as she sat in the chair, she rested her head on the bed and fell asleep. Meanwhile, I was writhing in agony. I couldn’t relieve the pressure because Mommy’s nose was inches away.

This kids, is the first date your Mommy and Daddy went on. This was our first time alone together. This is when we first really started to learn about each other. I was sick in the hospital and she was taking care of me. I was bemused by how hard she tried to stay there. It was charming the care she gave me. However, the honest truth is, that for most of those hours I really wished she would just leave me alone in my distress.

My bittersweet love for both Mommy, Mizoram and India began in that hospital room. It meant I would return again to India to see them all.



I Love your Mother, I Love Both of You

  1. tim96 (1)
  2. Originally written Sept. 21, 2014. Still true.Dear Ezra and Lian;

    I love your mother. I love both of you.

    Ezra, you already know this. You are old enough to know this is true. I have told you many times. Lian, today you are too young to understand what is happening. Most of all this letter is for you to read when you are older. Ezra, when Lian is older please make sure your little sister believes this.

    My legal paperwork got filed in court over a week ago. This means that your Mommy and Daddy permanently won’t be living together any more. We haven’t lived together for 16 months, but this makes it official. This doesn’t change anything really for you, but soon your parents will be divorced.

    You and others will ask yourselves, like you have asked me in the past; why? Eventually you will meet someone who will tell you something like this; “Sometimes mommies and daddies stop loving one another. That’s why they get divorced.” Don’t ever believe or listen to that. That idea has nothing to do with me and your mother. It’s not true about us. I love your mom with all my heart, but it takes more than love to make a marriage last.

    I have tried so hard to make sure that we could all stay together. Now I have to stop holding on to your Mom. It’s really, really difficult, but it’s what your Mom wants. I just have to love her from a distance. The best way I can do that, is to love you as best as I can. You are the apple of my eye. My favour will rest on you as long as I shall live. Just because my marriage is ending does not lessen my love for you. You bear no responsibility for this divorce; not even a little bit. I will provide, protect, lead and embrace you all the more. I’m sure it might get to be too much sometimes. I might hug a little too tightly and forget to let go. When I over-love you, I’m sorry. Please forgive me in advance.

    Any time I compare you to your mother, it will be to highlight one of your positive attributes. When I see you, I will always see a little bit of her. That’s a good thing. Your eyes, your nose, your dimples, your easy laugh and smile. They all remind me about the best of your Mom.

    My biggest regret about this is that you don’t have more brothers and sisters. If there were twin or triplet versions of you that would make my joy even greater. I love all your mother’s children so much. I will pour my affection on the two of you.

    Sometime in the future, you might be feeling bad about yourself. Wherever you are, no matter how old you are, read this letter. Remember that your father loves you and always will.

    Much love,


How I was able to marry your mother – Anything can happen in India#2


Dear Ezra and Lian,

I had spent about 2 months in Mizoram in the winter of 2000. I left Mizoram late March 2000. I was travelling the last leg of the journey; a train travelling about 1800 kilometres from Calcutta in West Bengal to Nashik in Maharashtra. The reason I was coming back; to ask your mom to marry me.

I had visited all the family back in Mizoram. I think I passed all their tests and was properly vetted. I think it somewhat impressed them that I travelled all the way to Champhai to visit your great-grandparents. I did it all over land; no flying. From Bombay, that’s 7 days of travelling trains, buses and jeeps when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Of course, before I could consider asking your mom to say “Yes!” to me, I had to talk to her father. I needed to ask for his permission. That’s a letter for another time. Let me just say, I had no idea how I would convince an Inspector General of Police that he should let me marry his daughter. He sent her to the best of schools. She had dated a TV soap star, the sons of wealthy industrialists, even a prince. 11 guys had asked for hand in marriage and been denied….by Ruth. They didn’t even make into your grandpa’s office for the Big Question.

I was so eager to see your mom again, I took the first train I could get a ticket on and that would get me closest to her. It was going to take 36 hours as per the schedule. However, it wasn’t the best train to take. Also, the best route was to take a Calcutta to Bombay express. Instead, this train’s ultimate destination was Ahmedabad via Surat. My final station was near the Gujarat/Maharashtra state border. By car, this was still hours away from Nashik. All the same I jumped on board.

The train ended up being about 12 hours late. That meant I spent about 48 hours and 2 nights on a train. I had a “sleeper berth” in AC so it was not horrible. Still, that was 48 hours of eating nothing but chicken curry and rice or eggs and toast. 48 hours of swaying back and forth and trying not to miss the toilet or roll out of bed. No showers. Sometimes we would spend hours in the middle of nowhere, not moving at all. By the time I arrived at my final station, I felt like I had been to sea in a tin can for a week. I didn’t feel that well. I didn’t look that well. I certainly didn’t smell that well.

I stepped off the train with my backpack. (Of course, Canadian Pilgrim would have a Canadian flag patch sewn on.) I slowly made my way through a crowd of people eager to get away from our “prison”. Then I saw her, your mother. She was beautiful in a salwar kameez with a dupatta on her head (you’ve never seen your mom like this.) I began running as fast as my “sea legs” would take me. I could hear the romantic music from a Bollywood movie in my head. “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” Something was indeed happening.

Then, I saw two police officers standing beside her. I stopped moving and wondered what was happening. Then two officers suddenly appeared beside me. One physically grabbed my backpack off my shoulder. The other pushed me forward. I thought your mom was going to run into my arms for a big hug and a kiss. No.

“Hello, Mr. Nghinglova” I greeted your grandfather in full police officer uniform. He greeted me warmly with a big smile. Around us were about 20 police officers and jawans under his command. He said, “Shall we go then?” All of us then proceeded through the train station. The crowds parted like the Red Sea for us. Everyone stared at this beautiful young lady, lots of serious policemen and this bedraggled, rail-thin, dirty smelly, tall, white guy with rare hair being pushed along. I cast a backwards glance at Mommy wondering why she never kissed me. I wasn’t exactly sure if I was being taken to Mommy’s home or to an interrogation session at the nearest police station.

We reached a car. I got in the backseat and surprisingly so did your grandpa. Mommy sat in the front with the driver. The car’s siren came on and its warning lights began to flash. Two jeeps in front of us did the same and two behind us as well. I even think a couple had roof mounted machine guns, but it was all just a blur. Most of the journey took place after dark. We raced through the darkness. We passed hundreds of vehicles for hours. It’s strange, after a while you don’t even notice the sirens wailing any more.

Grandpa, rather, Inspector General of Police, Nashik Range, Mr. B.T. Nghinglova and I made small talk. We talked about my train trip and my longer journey. Of course, he asked, like every Mizo does, “How do you find Mizoram?” (A Canadian immigrant from India once asked Ezra, “How do you find London, Ontario?” Ezra seriously said, “I got off the train and there it was.”) I told your grandfather I had fallen in love with Mizoram.

I spent all the pauses in our conversation wondering what I would say to win him over. How was I going to convince him that I would make a great husband for his daughter? I was running out of time. I figured the next day would be my one and only chance to ask him while alone.

Suddenly, words something like this, came out of his mouth; “I understand you are interested in our daughter; that you would like to marry her. From our side, we have no objection.” I said thank you, but I was so stunned I didn’t know what else to say or do. I thought that went a lot easier than I expected.

After hours of travel, we finally reached Mommy’s house in Nashik. Your grandpa went to wash up for a late dinner. I snuck a big hug and kiss with Mommy while he was gone. Then Mommy went to get ready for dinner as well. While I waited, I looked at the mantle over the fireplace. There was a trophy. The statuette was of a man. He had one arm pointing straight in front of him while holding a pistol. I read the inscription. It read something like this; “State of Maharashtra Police Shooting Champion, 1994”.

I was sure glad he said, “Yes”. I didn’t want to imagine what he would have done if he had said, “No”.