When Travel Heals
Discover India|November - December 2021
Going for a holiday just after you have lost your mother to COVID-19 may not be the most popular idea, but it was the only way for a grieving family to escape the agony with which they were living. And so, they headed to the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu in search of peace and recuperation.
Anubhuti Krishna

LONG BEFORE IT WAS fashionable for Indian women to travel, my mother was traversing the length and breadth of the country. From trudging alone in buses across states, to travelling in delayed trains with three kids in tow, and getting a broken car fixed in the middle of a jungle—she had done it all. Even when her ageing body restricted her mobility, she continued to travel in ways only she could: in sleeper trains, tempo travellers, local buses, rickshaws, and what not. It was only fitting then that I chose to celebrate her life and grieve her death by travelling to a far off land despite the pandemic that took her.

I lost my mother to COVID-19 in October 2020. Her passing was not entirely unexpected but was as hard to come to terms with as anything can be. Our entire clan’s life was centred around her, and now that she was gone, we all felt orphaned and abandoned. That we were infected with the novel coronavirus just weeks afterwards meant losing the little emotional strength left in us. As days turned into weeks and I saw grief engulfing the family, I knew I had to do something. And so, after our quarantine periods were seen off and the infection dealt with, I decided to take a road trip with my two daughters, husband, and father to the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu from our home in Bengaluru.

Road trips have never been my idea of fun. I hate the logistics involved, the inconveniences en route, and the long arduous hours of doing nothing in the car. But I was determined to make this one happen. It helped that the drive promised glimpses of quaint villages, lush coconut groves, tiny colourful towns, and visits to local tiffin centres. We set off on a beautiful December morning. As most journeys go, we took a while to get settled. The girls, who had been miserable without their grandmother and unhappy to travel so soon after her passing, started opening up; my father, who had not spoken in weeks, began to converse; and we, my husband and I, felt lighter just watching the family loosen up.

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