Short Story: Space

On a cold evening in November, the Air India flight from Mumbai started its descent to land at the international airport in San Francisco. In the flight were Mr and Mrs Joshi who were visiting their son and daughter-in-law. A retired government of India employee, the seventy year old Mr Joshi and his sixty-five year old wife had visited their son earlier a few years back when he had just completed his studies. But this was their first visit after their son’s wedding five years back in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, their son Ketan and his wife Anusha checked the flight status online.

“Looks like it is on time. Should we start?” Ketan asked his wife.

“Give me 10 minutes. Just replying to this email” Anusha replied.

As they left their home, Ketan realised that perhaps they were already a bit late. It was a cold November evening, and he did not expect the traffic to be heavy. So he thought if he took the highway, they would make it on time.

“Let’s go through Redwood city” Anusha interrupted Ketan’s thoughts. “I realized that we need to pick up some groceries. Your parents will need them.”

Anusha had already told her friends as well as colleagues in office about the impending visit of her in-laws, and how it was going to invade her space and add to all the overhead activities in her life.

As she picked up some items from the grocery store, Ketan asked her to hurry up.

“It’s for your parents. Otherwise I will have to answer why there’s nothing in the fridge” she smirked back at Ketan. She was horror-struck at the prospect of facing such potential situations.

“By the way, do we have extra blankets? It is quite cold” asked Ketan.

“There are some in the storeroom” Anusha responded nonchalantly.

“But are they usable?” Ketan inquired, not quite sure whether they had been used in a while.

“They should be ok for your parents” Anusha told Ketan. “And your father can also use some of your old jackets lying in your wardrobe” she grinned back at her husband.

“Ok cool” Ketan stopped the conversation.

“Hey by the way, we don’t have extra mattresses” he remembered after a while.

“Yes – you will have to rent them out. In any case, they will need those harder ones” Anusha warned almost with a tone of admonition, thinking about all the adjustments she was going to face in the next couple of months.

“Ok – let’s pick them on the way, and put them in the car.”

After a while, Anusha remembered “What about the pooja stuff for your father? I hope he is not going to stick to that here also?”

“Of course. Guess we need that too. Let’s take it from the Indian store. May be we can pick up some Indian food too” Ketan told his wife.

“But I am not going to cook” Anusha scowled back.

“Ok, chill. My mother will cook” Ketan chose the path of least resistance to maintain the peace. And then added with a grin “By the way, my parents are coming to see you.”

“No they are coming to see you” Anusha reprimanded him.

Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Joshi’s flight had landed and they had finished their immigration formalities. Luckily their baggage also arrived in quick time. Mr Joshi put it on the trolley and started walking to the exit.

At the exit, their eyes searched for their son and daughter-in-law but they were nowhere to be seen. Most of the passengers left within about half an hour after that.

“I think we are late” Ketan said, as he pushed the mattresses into his car’s boot. Most of the car was already full with all the things they had bought on the way.

“But we were buying things for your parents so that they don’t have to adjust.” Then looking at the car, she said “Hope your parents don’t have a lot of luggage. There’s no space. What if we get another cab?”

As they reached the airport, they parked their car and walked to the exit. Ketan saw his parents standing alone with their luggage trolley. He realised that they are going to need a cab for it.

“Hope we are not too late” he said to his father.

“No, not at all. We just landed” Mr Joshi replied, happy to see his son, though that was more than an hour back.

As they prepared to leave the airport, Ketan called for a cab, and gave him the address of their home. As he put the luggage in the boot, and his parents sat in the cab, he explained “Sorry for that. But don’t worry, the cabbie will follow us.”

“No problem” Mr Joshi reassured his son.

Anusha tried to bring a cordial expression on her face. She smiled at her in-laws and said “There’s no space in our car, so we called the cab.” And forcing a jolly grin, she continued, “Welcome to our home!”

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