Chapter 1

Another winter morning, so cold and lousy .I have not slept the whole night. How could I? This day is so special and awaited. It is finally good to be home. I am really excited as I was years back whenever I could go home from hostel. “Memories are your best companion.” It has made me live all these years, 10 awesome years. 

I am finally out of my blanket .Lot of things to do before I start but I am really not able to get things done. I am nervous, excited, anxious and happy, mixed feelings, think even my mind is confused what to feel. I stepped out of my bed and had my slippers on. I have always felt that this day would never come in my life or may be I never wanted it to come.

I opened my suitcase, checked all the gifts. I am not sure whether I really have to do this but he wants me to and I am sure I have to do this for him and Darshan, my 10 year old son .He is excited about going to India and being with his hero, his dad. I wonder whether all sons admire their dad like this even though they have hardly spent time together. I don’t know whether he is good at anything , but he is definitely the best dad ever .

I freshened up and stepped out of my room. I have to wake Darshan up .Its the toughest task which I have to go through every morning, but the best task ever. Anything related to him is best for me because he makes my life meaningful .I opened his door. He has painted his room with different shades, all funky ones. There are posters all over , soccer ball team, wrestlers , actors, all his favorites and then there is the most precious photograph in the center , he and his dad .The picture was taken 2 years back. They look so happy together. I am scared that Darshu will hate me for keeping him separated from his dad but he never complains. Their meetings had been through video chats which he never misses for the world. I moved the curtains to see whether the roads are clear after the last night’s snow. It seems to be better than I have expected yesterday .I might have to struggle a bit but can make it to the airport.  The winters are always difficult. I have never thought I would reach here and spend so many years away from my home town , friends and family.

I switched on the coffee machine and poured the coffee into the coffee mug and realized It is 6.00 am already.

 I kept my coffee mug on the dining table and stepped into Darshan’s room. Sat next to him with my hands on his forehead and moved my fingers through his hair

“He looks the cutest when he sleeps” I said as if there is someone to hear me, a bad habit developed through lonely years. I am so used to speaking to myself now. And a reply took me to surprise

“I know that mom.” It was Darshan with his eyes closed holding my hands tight with a smile.

 “Hey, you are awake? I thought you were sleeping and I guess this is the first morning where you wake up without me shouting at you”  I said with a smile.

“I was too excited to sleep ma. Did you have a good sleep?”

“I was too excited about your excitement to sleep .Get up sweetheart, we have a few more packing left and then we are off for the perfect vacation you have dreamt of.”

“Yes mom, I will be ready in a few minutes”

I got back to my room for a shower. Darshan is so excited and happy to be back in India .I hope he will only have good memories to take when he is back from there or may be we will never have to come back. I finished the shower , wore my bath robe and stepped back to the room hearing the phone ringing .I picked up the phone .I could hear the sound so feeble but so sharp and clear

 “Hey, its me, Are you guys all set to be back ?”

“Yeah, but I am still not so sure whether I really want to do it”. I felt so relieved finally letting out what I felt.

“It is not for you or for me. It is for Darshan. He needs everyone. He doesn’t deserve this. Mistakes were all ours and he went through a lot already for us. Its time for him to see who all he has. We can’t run away from things all our life. We have to do this someday and face this someday. We can’t make up for the years he lost but definitely try to give some good memories for the life ahead. Just be bold. Everything is going to be alright” His words were so reassuring and tone was so convincing.

“Thanks, I feel better. Would you like to speak to Darshan?”

“Its ok, Just tell him I miss him badly and I am waiting for him”. The line went dead.

Darshan stepped inside the room and found me lost staring at the phone. “Hey ma, who was on the phone? Was it dad?”  His voice just brought me back from the thoughts .

“Yeah dear, it was dad. He just wanted to check whether we are ready to be back.”

“Hmm I m so excited that I finally get to see him. We have so many things to do together. Mom, I am hungry.”

“Oh! Sorry dear.Just give me 5 minutes”.

“Mom, I will help you.”  He took out the bread and cheese from the refrigerator while I cut the cucumber and tomatoes.

“Ma, can I ask you something?”  He asked a bit reluctantly. “Of course yes .Why do you need to be so formal? You can ask me anything you want”. I switched on the toaster and looked at him. He was not looking at me and I could feel he was about to ask me something very serious. I hoped it was not about the years he lost and my escapism in life.

“Are you not happy about going back home?” 

“Yes I am sweetheart .I am happy about going back.”

“Have you never felt like meeting your dad and mom all these years? Don’t you think they would have missed you, mom?”

I just took the bread and put it in the toaster .I could not look at his face. I never wanted anyone to ask me that. All the guilty feeling I had deep inside reflected on my face. “I am sorry mom if you have felt bad. I didn’t mean to ….”

I kneeled down in front of him kept my hands on his shoulders and looked into his eyes. “I was never bold enough to go and meet them Darshu. I am not sure whether they have missed me or not but I was not a good daughter. I was not like you dear, of whom parents would be proud about.” My eyes were filled with tears and I was afraid it would just flow down and I might not be able to stop it. I just got up and went back to the refrigerator so that I could hide that tears from him. I took the juice from the refrigerator and poured into two glasses

“Mom, I am really sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you. I am not sure what you had done, but I am sure you could not be wrong.” He hugged me and I kissed on his forehead. I muttered through my lips “I hope I was not.”

We took our plates and glasses and sat on the dining table when the phone rang again. “I will get that mom.” Darshan ran to pick up the phone. “Hi Aunty, how are you ? Yeah mummy is here .Just hold on.” I got up from the chair listening to the conversation. 

“Hi Avantika.” I did not have a second thought on who it would be. 

“Hey, Anvesha, why do you sound so dull? You are coming back after so many years. At least try to sound happy for God sake”

“I am good Avantika. Just worried about how things are going to be there.”
“Everything will be fine. We will be there in the airport.”
“Hmm, ok.”
“See you soon. I can’t wait to see you.” The line went dead.

Avantika, she is my best friend. Everyone is not lucky to have a friend like her. She is more of a sister than a friend .She motivates me when I am so unsure about what I really am capable of, criticize me when I am wrong and still be with me.She advices me when I am in need of one and guides me when I am lost. She had always been there , no matter what. Ours is a friendship anyone can be jealous of. Sometimes I feel no one knows me like her, not even me.

I cleared the plates and cleaned the table and the kitchen. I could hear Darshan arranging and packing things. I got back to my room to get ready. We have to leave in an hour .I picked up a denim jeans and a white long top with collared neck .I wore a black sweater on top of it. I switched on the laptop to clear the last few official mails in my inbox.

I heard Darshan shouting from his room “Mom, have you packed all the gifts?”

“Yeah, Darshan”. I realized it is high time I tell him what has happened in my life and why I was here so far away from everyone. I should tell him before we reach .I have made up my mind.I replied to all the mails, switched off my laptop and packed that too. I moved the luggage out and we left for the airport. 

After checking  in we both decided to have some juice and change the currency before the security check alert. While we were having juices he asked “Mom, I would like to hear about everyone back home if it is not of much trouble to you.” I was happy that he brought up this topic. I anyway wanted to tell him. I circled my finger on the mouth of the juice glass . I  closed my eyes and prayed that I should be able to put things properly.

“Life had been so usual, normal and predictable for me in my school days. School, dance classes and back home. I had very few friends. I hardly spoke and almost never laughed. It was so boring to see a girl like me of my age. The only time I enjoyed school most was during school competitions.”

“Wow mom. You used to dance?”

“Hmm ya, My dance practices kept me busy and I feel school realized my presence only during that time. I was an average student in my class, say above 60% always type.  I was so moody and loved to spend time alone with soft music. Days used to be so predictable and I was always in search of something within me.”

“But mom you are so cool now. Jovial, happy, fun to be with. I can’t imagine you being moody and boring.” I smiled at him and patted on his shoulders.

“I would have changed because I have the best son in the world . " I paused and continued. "I have the best mom too. My mom always used to be perfect in everything, in her cooking, arranging the house, taking care of her husband and the best in bringing up her children.” I said and thought about her.

She always liked to boast about how perfect her life was and how best she could handle things. She liked when others envy about her children. Nothing wrong in it but I always used to get tired proving myself and I do things how she wanted me to. Everything was still perfect. I love her, more than that I was so scared whether I will disappoint her or make her angry. She wanted me to be perfect in what I do. When I started walking she wanted me never to fall. If I fall the first thing she does is scold and beat me so that I will be careful next time. I never fell again but the fact is I never walked fast or ran after that, not because I will fall, just because I don’t want to get beaten by mom and make her angry. But she never realized it nor did I tell her ever. She used to be very short tempered but felt really bad after getting angry at me or after beating me. She used to cry after that. She is really sweet and I always wanted to meet up her expectations. I was smiling by the thought of her hug and realized how much I missed my mom. I missed the hug and kiss with which she receives me.

An Alert came for the security check. We both headed for the security check and in few minutes we were waiting at the lobby. Darshan was playing with my mobile phone and my phone beeped with a message alert. He handed over the phone to me

Everything is just going to be fine. The wound would have healed .Have a safe flight :)

The message was from him, Darshan’s dad. Darshan’s dad is the best way to address him because that is the only bond we share . 

To be continued ….

 


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    Kalhara Venugopal , an author whose writing is still in the nascent stage . Your opinions matters ! 

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