A Homecoming A parent’s sacrifices for his thoughtless scfn. By V. K. Narayanan

m\, Dad, I lost my job. Can I come back home? – Ravi” Krishnan was surprised and amused on seeing the e-mail of his son one fine morning. He could not remember when he last received a telephone call/e-mail from him. It must have been months. Now he thought…

Krishnan was a bank officer who was recently retired and settled down. Ravi, after his engineering from a reputed college was eager to pursue higher studies in management in the USA. He managed to secure admission in four reputed universities, but there was a hitch. No scholarships was available. It would cost US$50,000 for the course. He had not taken any loan from the bank all his life. Even the house where he lived was in his late father’s name. Ravi was pleading initially for a few days, persuading through his friends afterwards, then finally demanding and threatening. Krishnan consulted close colleagues and his evening-walk friends. Some of their children had gone abroad for studies or employment. He could not sleep for some days. His wife Rajam invited her brother during the weekend. Ravi cried and argued. Finally it was decided in his son’s favour.

Krishnan took a loan of Rs 15 lakh from the bank against six LIC policies as security. He had only three years of service remaining. He also had to give an undertaking and authorisation to adjust the terminal benefits if the loan was outstanding at the time of his retirement.

Ravi left for the USA for his studies saying, “Don’t worry, Dad, I will be able to repay the loan.” During the entire course he was regular in making phone calls and sending e-mails. He even worked during the vacation. He came back only after the completion of the course. A reputed investment banker had offered a good placement.

After a fortnight’s stay and celebrations Ravi again left for the USA. Tele-talks and e-mails were as usual. On getting the first salary Ravi mailed, “Dad, my first salary of $3,000 is credited. I am buying a car costing $7,000 and am taking a loan.” Subsequent six months’ salaries had one spending avenue or the other.

Then e-mail and tele­
talk frequencies were once a month.

Krishnan being a banker knew that repaymer the education loan was to begin and the interest have a compounding effect from now. He hopec Ravi would start paying from now onwards. “I ha only six months more service,” he mailed reminc Ravi’s promise to clear the liabilities before his retirement. On getting no reply, he kept repeatir: the mail six-seven times. He even asked his colleague’s son who was in the USA to contact personally. Three months passed without any ph: ■ calls or e-mails from Ravi. There was no response any of his e-mails either.

One morning he had a message from Ravi or mobile. “Dad please check my mail.” He callec to Rajam and both opened the mailbox. It read “Dad, sorry for the long delay. I promise to be regular from now onwards. I have decided to h live-in relationship with a colleague who is from China. We plan to see how it works out. We rr z even marry after 2 years. Please see the attach” to the mail.” There were two-three photographs the two of them. Krishnan and Rajam were speechless for some time. He thought, no welfa’ queries of parents… no mention ofeducationa

H

e and Rajam decided not to reply to the – : It was decided that he would adjust the maturity proceeds of the LIC policies tower the loan. His retirement day finally came. His colleagues had arranged a farewell dinner. The general manager from head office was also pre Out of the gratuity amount he paid off the balance of the educational loan. They were sac their only son could not remember the retiremer He sent a mail after much thought, “I have retiree have closed your loan with LIC policies and gra*. r Please be regular in keeping in touch with us. Krishnan recollected that he had deliberate r. been silent about Ravi’s girlfriend.

News about the sub-prime crises, economic meltdown, job losses and p -■ slips appeared in papers. Krishnan wisrec that Ravi’s job was secure until he rece e the mail. “Hi, Dad, I lost my job. Cor come back home?”

Krishnan replied. “Surely, yo.
welcome” – and wiped his tec

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