When I came back to India just as I had planned, by this time, my sister was pregnant and living in Dharmashala with her husband whom she had met in a Tibetan colony.
I was surprised to see that there was no hospital in Dharamshala. However, she was very happy and told me that even without ultrasound or modern birth facilities the women bore healthy and beautiful babies. I really thought she was very brave to do this. A trait that now I think is in the DNA of our family.
We were all worried about the delivery because it was winter and the region was known for it freezing cold temperatures. In order to search for a warmer place, I headed out south to Goa where I met a Brazilian friend whom I had befriended in 2006. She told me about a one-room house with a rooftop venue whose owners only used the space during their vacations. We got permission from the owners and decided to move to Goa for two months.
The journey to Goa was an interesting one since my sister couldn’t fly anymore. We took a two-day long train from Delhi to Goa. All three of us settled in Goa in that small house. We enjoyed that stay by eating and going to the beach a lot. We sometimes argued among ourselves, but then everything got back to normal while we waited for my niece to come into the world.
In Goa, for the first time since her pregnancy, we had a chance to go to a doctor. The doctor himself was surprised by the fact that my sister hadn't seen a doctor since the time she conceived. My niece came into the world in the first month of 2008 and instantly became a celebrity at the hospital. The whole hospital came to see her because she was the first East Asian baby born in the hospital. I can easily say that she was the most beautiful baby that I had ever seen in my life.
I also have to mention my Brazilian friend Adriana who gave birth to a baby only a few months before my sister. She had given us some heads-up on everything to be done while having a baby. My niece was born one day before my sister’s visa expired. I had to go to the immigration office and beg the authorities to grant a visa extension.
After some time, my sister flew back to Korea while her husband stayed back because of his refugee status. It would take more time for his papers to be processed in order for him to go to Korea. My niece is now in the third grade studying in Korea. We plan to go back as a family to Goa so we can show my niece the place she was born and the place we lived while we waited for her to enter the world.