The day after she landed in New Delhi from the US, diplomat Devyani Khobragade expressed apprehension and anguish over the uncertainties surrounding her two daughters who remain in that country, and over their life together as a family.
The US State Department has said steps were being taken to “prevent the routine issuance of any future visa” to Khobragade, and that “a warrant may be issued for her arrest”, making it virtually impossible for her to go back.
“I wonder if I will be able to ever reunite with my family, my husband, my little kids. I miss them,” Khobragade told The Sunday Express.
“What if my children choose to study and work in the US? What if I can never return to the US, which I cannot now… Does it mean we will never be able to live together as a family again?,” she said, voicing what she said was one of the biggest worries on her mind currently.
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She was also worried about her career, she said, and about what new posting she would be given.
“I have returned home, and it feels good to be among people who support you, but the legal battle remains. I have come to India but my stand still needs to be vindicated. And of course, I have been separated from my family, and I am under immense stress for my children,” Khobragade said.
The diplomat’s two daughters, aged 7 and 4, are in New York with her husband, who is a well regarded academic in the US. The controversy and its fallout were, she said, more a personal than a professional loss for her.
“My little kids, who have never been separated from me, are too young to realise that their mother will not return home any time soon. (That) in fact she would never return to that same house again. I spoke to my kids for hours last night, and they are already missing me. The 4-year-old asked me, ‘Mommy, when will you be back home’, and I had no answer,” Khobragade said, her eyes welling up.
“The kids think I am out for some work. My little one even told me, ‘Mama please get me some blue and golden bangles from India when you return. She is a great fan of ethnic jewellery’.”
Her children, Khobragade said, were familiar with India. “Both my children were born in India. I flew from Pakistan, where I was posted then, to Mumbai, for the delivery of my second child,” she said.
“There is no one to take care of my family there. I have left the kids with my husband, but we have still not hired a help to take care of them. Everything is being done by my husband at present. My younger daughter is in pre-school and needs me the most at this time,” Khobragade said.
“I know I am honest, and I will come out clean. But we do not know how much time it will take and for how long my family will have to suffer due to this. I thank the foreign secretary and the external affairs minister for their support,” she said.