By Naazish YarKhan

With my husband working sixty hours a week or is that seventy, I’ve been feeling alone lately. Not that there is a lack of other people or relationships or anything. But more like there isn't someone to totally, totally just talk to, and feel like you've been heard inside- out. But our week long trip to Canada and relatives last week, did feel like that. As though you're wrapped in love, attentiveness and affection. 4 generations of love and relationships - so much history. Fehmida Aunty and Zahid Mamoo, who we stayed with, are siblings and cousins of my grandparents, and know and love my parents. This visit, we got to know their children and grandchildren.

Taskeen had won an international poetry competition and the award ceremony was held in Toronto. I sent a press release out to local papers about Taskeen's winning and she was interviewed by one paper, and featured in another. Feels good to be guiding one's child well. If I had won the event, I would have run when invited to read my poem at the awards, so why not do it for her, I reasoned. Hubby had to work so driving nine hours with the kids in tow was out of the question. No one else wanted to come for the ride, so we took the bus – 12 hours. Not a bad trip, but not one I’d want to repeat, especially the return journey which got more stinky with each passenger. What’s more, in twelve hours, I could be in Muscat!

From Toronto, we took a train to Montreal. I’ve always been a last minute planner and this time it cost us dearly. All the last minute tickets cost twice as much compared to what they did, had we booked them two, three weeks in advance. We stayed at cousins in Montreal and went sightseeing. The city is so small and compact that distances aren’t an issue so we saw tons of sights each day. Zahid Mamoo and his daughter Azra didn't let us spend a penny. I have rarely encountered that having lived here all these years and this family has been in the West almost 40 years! Their hospitality reminded me of home and India, and my parents and at the end of the trip, I wondered why I live here, away from my siblings and parents, when I could live in the shadow of their love and affection instead.

Arvind Sharma, a friend of mine, originally from Bombay, now in Tuscan, Arizona found out I was living here and called this evening. He is in business with Faisal, my cousin and one of my best buds. Long story short, he found out Faisal and I were cousins and got my number. I remembered who he was the moment I heard his voice on the machine, even though he left a message with a long reminder as to who he was. How could I forget them! Arvind used to teach me math when I was in high school and I used to live at their place when I had exams, once my parents had moved to Muscat. They've been family friends with my parents ever since our dads worked together as young men.

Talking felt sooo good. Like stepping into the past. I can't wait to meet Arvind again. Arvind already had a career when I'd barely finished college. His brother, Atul, and I used to hang out more though. Maybe he'll come visit sometime too. Atul is based in Singapore. I feel so impatient now. Like I want to go and see them now. I am so eager, just to be with them again. I am going to ask him and his wife to come visit or we'll go over and visit. I have tons of family in Tuscan so staying anywhere will not be a problem. And besides my parents have ‘paid it forward’ years and years ago when we used to live in Bombay, and our home was a hostel to every relative using Bombay VT or Sahar International Airport. I can call and stay just about anywhere, because my parents opened their home to others with their hospitality and large-heartedness.

Maybe summer is also hard because my girl friends and I don't bother to keep in touch anymore. When the kids were younger and in preschool and hanging around our necks all day, we were desperate. The moms-and-children weekly get together kept us sane. Now, the kids are older. We have a laundry list of activities for them to attend and a phone call a week, between us friends, is something big. Sad, especially since I know I need relationships and what they do for me emotionally, but I just don't make the effort. Even when my neighbors Sadiya and Tariq moved to another town 30 minutes away, I'd go over and spend the night at their home, because it just felt like home. But a year later, I've given up on consistency which really is key to a good relationship.

But all is not lost. We are going to Columbus, Ohio for a former neighbor's son's birthday. Five families will make the six hour drive and we're all going to stay at the birthday house. It will be so much fun. Like a wedding house. We had 40 people under one roof, for two weeks, for my wedding. God willing, my hubby and I will have been together 13 years in August. I’ve been looking at pictures from summer holidays a year ago and two years ago and boy the kids grow quickly. How the last few years have flown by, and Praise be to God, we've really been happy together these past few years. Taskeen going away to college is a mere nine years away, her wedding maybe 15 years away? God willing, Yousuf will be in kindergarten in the fall. It feels like yesterday when I brought him home and called him Hasmuk Raja because he smiled so much. Both children in school. Quasi empty nest. It’s time for another one, maybe?