The Postbag

When I was ten years old, my father was sent on a long-term business trip to India. My mother, my 4-year-old sister and I were to accompany him.

In Delhi we checked into a luxurious hotel paid for by the employer. Everything was provided for us as we had no rupees of our own. After staying there for a few days we were to continue our journey. Our destination was Ranchi, a city in the northeast of India.

Early in the morning we arrived at the airport with our 12 suitcases and boxes plus hand luggage. When we were about to check in, we were informed that an important Indian delegation had arrived and three extra seats on the plane were urgently needed. So, we were asked quite politely which one of us was going to fly. After a short discussion, it was decided that we girls return to the hotel. Dad took all the luggage, waved us good-bye and checked in.

When my mother, sister and I came back to the hotel with a small bag, we realized it was the postbag. We had no toothbrushes, no combs, no underwear and no opportunity to buy anything. We didn’t know how many days we were going to spend there before the employer would book new seats for us.

As for Daddy, the first question he was asked in Ranchi was, ‘Where is our post?’ People staying there received letters from home very rarely – only when a new family arrived. And it didn’t happen more often than once or twice a month. When they learned Dad had left their long-awaited letters in Delhi, they nearly tore him to pieces.

So, when we finally arrived, we were very welcome.