An Epiphany

Submitted by Tammy Filipkowski to Contest #5 in response to: Write a story about two unlikely people falling in love.... view prompt

An epiphany: The awakening of ones senses; a brilliant light, a realization of enormous proportions. I can say I experienced such an epiphany when I was at work in the United States about a year ago. It was awe-inspiring and moved me to the core. There I was sitting at my desk on a particularly uneventful day, my phone silent, and just a few voices buzzing like flies around the perimeter of my ears.  I had spent a quiet morning surfing the internet for flights to India.  And yes, I just did say India. I knew that India and my love were the most important parts of my life.

What started out as just a few basic chats between two people quickly evolved into a relationship that spanned two continents.   This relationship would certainly be scrutinized by many as we had two very important factors against us. One, I am an American and he obviously an Indian, with a great cultural divide to overcome and secondly, I am 25 years older than him. Both of these did not prove to be major hurdles for us to overcome as we e didn’t notice them at all.  Not letting this stop us, we spent most of the past year texting, video-calling and talking incessantly. There was never any question in our minds that we wouldn’t meet and this meant we would have to form a feasible future plan.  The United States would be our place to meet in person, face to face. On this fact we both agreed and with this goal set, we would both work faithfully.

Our time schedules were so different, meaning my evening was his morning of the next day. I would be coming home from work in the evening and he would be as well. I would wait as he traveled from his city of work to Delhi, what seemed like an eternity.   When he arrived at home, and settled himself, we would discuss our future, step by step. I soon discovered he didn’t have a passport because he never felt the need to have one. You see, he harboured no thoughts of traveling outside India. We tossed this around and finally he committed to obtaining one. Leaving India and coming to be with me was his only goal.   As is true with many important tasks anywhere in the world, this seemed to take a long time. Could this be because when you want to be with someone, or be somewhere other than where you are, time is an eternity? Time creeps slowly, the clock appearing to be stuck. One hand so very far from the other, just as the two of us were.

In the meantime, he traveled to a beautiful village where he spent his life as a free spirited child, bus pooled daily to work and shared whatever time he had with me. Via pictures, video calls and his explanations I became a traveler in his home country. Imagine never leaving your home and yet being able to see such an amazing part of the world.  He would even introduce some of his family and friends to me. They were just as fascinated about me as I was with them. Before I stepped into the Indira Gandhi International Airport last September, I had friends.  I relished each and every moment spent with him this way.   With all the experiences he shared I began to learn more about the man he was.  I saw him in many different situations, home, on the way to work, with family and with friends.  I am grateful for the man he was when we were apart as he shared his everyday life as much as he physically could.

Once he had his passport in hand, time picked up pace. Our discussions surrounded his application for a visa to the United States and he admitted something to me.  Quite boldly he said, “I am a procrastinator”.  I thought, “Ok, he’s a lovable, slow moving turtle of sorts!”   What I didn’t realize was he would seek out visa consultants often. This became irritating to me and I started to feel as though he didn’t trust my capabilities. Whenever I broached the subject, he denied, saying that he wanted to obtain a different perspective, opinion or perhaps even a person who might have first-hand knowledge regarding the Embassy and the visa process. Though it was difficult for me, I let it go. Unfortunately, though this meant we were dragging our feet. Meanwhile back in the United States life went on as usual with work, home, family and the formulation of plans for his impending arrival in the US.  We continued the calls and scheduled his interview with the embassy. This was such a nerve wracking period for both of us. It was debilitating and often the wait to communicate would drive me crazy. One Sunday afternoon, sitting in my comfy chair at home, legs curled under me I sent him a message. To me it seemed so simple, feelings expressed with the flourish I always felt when thinking of us. He responded that I should write!  Imagine that! This man 7,000 miles away from me realized that I had this talent.  It was another one of those times when I had an epiphany! This man knows me better than anyone else, even my own family.

About 3 years prior, during a period of unemployment, I tapped away on a laptop what felt like almost 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. The words flowed from my mind and heart. The memories, often bitter and other times sweet found their way down my arms, into my fingers. They soon formed as words that would become a 683 paged book. Once completed, I slowly read and edited it, saving it to a pen drive with no further thought of what I would do with it.  Funny, that with all the time I spent holed up in my room with my laptop, I had no desire to do anything with it.  Family at this time was demanding, wanting more and more of my time. Work eluded me and money became tight. It was one of those times about 3 months later, during a conversation with a close friend I decided to pull the pen drive out and re-read it.  A new enthusiasm, or an epiphany of sorts, took over and I chose a title “Upon Open Wings” and enlisted this same friend to illustrate a cover. Why not try to sell the manuscript and publish. Once again, I re-read it and realized that much of what was written described my family growing up. It hit me that with all the good and bad, I would always live with the fear that I would hurt someone. Mostly my mom, dad and siblings who upon reading it would be surprised that I would expose our lives so vividly in print. This surprise would not be received well, perhaps even causing an upheaval. This was not my intent and I made the firm decision to sell the project. In doing so, I relinquished my rights to it and thus freed myself from any possible issues that might arise.

So, on this day when I was texting my love and he picked up on my writing capabilities, I made a firm decision to write once again. He was my inspiration, my muse and my critic as well. Whenever free time arose, I would write poetry, short stories and musings on life, love and at times, the human condition. At this point in time, I am grateful to him.

The day of his visa interview arrived. He seemed prepared and we really believed that he would be the proud recipient of a visa to the United States. Before he entered the Embassy he called me. We expressed our feelings and he left me to wait.  It was the middle of my night and day where he was. I dozed off and woke as though a huge amount of time had passed.  Jittery, I reached for my cell and called. He was not forthcoming with the results but told me he would call me back. Why were both my head and heart telling me that the results were not as we had hoped? He called, and I was right.  We spent the next couple hours in an emotional mess.  

Because of the time difference between us I barely finished the night’s sleep. I had to face my work day in a state of emotional chaos.  He was at a close friends place sharing the news with him. Dressing and leaving my apartment I thought of the next step. When I arrived at work most of my co-workers could sense my mood. I shared my thoughts with them and they consoled me with words of encouragement. When a free moment came along I called him to talk about what we were going to do. It made no sense to sit and wait for time to pass, we would reapply, seeking some help in the process. It has always been my belief that we should keep moving forward, goal insight, maintaining a positive attitude. We, once again, completed the application and started to “get our ducks in order”.

After the horrible day at the Embassy, he shared more specific information with me about why he was denied. We decided that due to certain circumstances it would be best if we included my financial support and that of the secretary of state, a Connecticut senator and the mayor of the city I lived in.  Thankfully, we obtained a fairly fast appointment, exchanged documents and waited for the day to arrive. 

All during the “wait” we continued our calls, videos and pictures.  My job had taken on a new dimension, that of project manager with the task of a complete renovation to the suite of offices where I was employed. It was a tedious way to spend the day with interviewing contractors, accepting bids, and looking over materials. The pressure was on and considering this project and my personal life, success seemed so far away if not impossible. The project became funded, got underway and was after some months completed.  

The dreaded day arrived once again and we prepared ourselves for another visa interview. He was well prepared with political support from the US added to his arsenal of documents.   The mood was one of “THIS TIME IT WILL HAPPEN!” He arrived at the embassy, we spoke for brief few moments and he entered the walled fortress to wait. Meanwhile in the US, I waited for what seemed like an eternity. The difference this time was, I didn’t doze or sleep. I watched the time on my cell. No call, no text, nothing and all I could imagine in his silence was that his devastation at the results was more than he could handle. I couldn’t wait any longer, so I called and he told me the upsetting news. Honestly, this time I could not handle it. I needed a few hours to comprehend what he said and work was where I knew I had to go.  I dressed, and went off to the office.  While tapping away at the keys of my desktop, I remembered we had discussed that the third step in this journey which would be me going to India.  The thought brought me an overwhelming happiness that somehow pushed the last two embassy appointments completely out of my mind. 

My day passed and I called him.  There was no possible way that I could hide the feelings that put me in a state of practically bursting with excitement.  In the initial part of our conversation he seemed down and out, not wanting to discuss anything for the most part. I couldn’t let this happen, and I told him what I was waiting almost all day to tell him. “I will come to India.”  He was silent, maybe he was giving his mind time to process what he heard. I don’t know, because there was an epiphany sounding off in my heart like the singing of joyous angels.  I have heard it said time and time again that a positive attitude is contagious. Well, it worked! He came around, silence broken and once that happened we both knew the sky was the limit and the possibilities were endless. 

I like to compare the beginning of the journey of us this way, like a baseball game three bases. Our story to me and our life together had bases or steps as well.  First base was the first visa interview (denied), second base, second visa interview (denied) and third base on the way home would be my trip to India. What would lead to home and as I type this now, has become my home for the past 10 ½ months.

An epiphany comes in the form of many emotions. Some are eye opening in the form of angels singing in the clouds, all joy and enlightenment. Others are as though a ton of bricks have been dropped on your head. It’s almost a form of “wake up and see what is happening.”

I think most humans prefer the angels singing as I do. We realize this will not be the case every day. Not all days will be perfect but during those imperfect times if we just stop, wait and breathe, a rogue angel just might sing in our ear. That imperfect time will become perfect. I guess what I am saying is, never give up on hope. Never give up on dreams. Cherish the good and keep it close in heart and mind. Let go of the bad with a smile. An epiphany creeps up on all of us when we least expect it.

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