The day before. What a day. It’s been an eventful day in my life. Too much happened in those frenzy moments. I’ve never felt so special in my life. So special, so wanted. If I was to start my life yet again, I’d juxtapose every day in a manner that resembled yesterday.
The day before. What a day. It’s been an eventful day in my life. Too much happened in those frenzy moments. I’ve never felt so special in my life. So special, so wanted. Though I would like to juxtapose each day of my life in a manner that it resembled yesterday, I know, there’s nothing I could do.
Though I remember Daadiji reciting me tales of magical cities and kings and queens, today she was trying to teach me about life. She was telling me too many things that I didn’t remember anything. After all, how much an 8 year old could grasp?
Yesterday, my daadi, my sweet old daadi, she danced! She looked happy. There was a grace on her face, a glow that I’ve never seen before. She was usually busy with her chores and prayers. A strict disciplinarian. But yesterday, she let her hair loose. She forgot all her disciplines. She danced. Her moves were none less than any actress’s. Her eyes were conveying too much of happiness.
Too much of rituals made me drowsy. Going to temples, praying to many deities, offering a melange of prasads. Daadi was staring at me, as if I’d never return. She put a black spot on my face, under the ear lobe, to ward off evil spirits and eyes. She loved me a lot, I knew. Then she kissed me on my forehead and said, “Meri Titli, jab tu vapas aa jayegi to hum khoob saari baatein karenge. Tujhe lori sunaungi, kheer banaungi, kahaniya sunaungi.” I asked her then why are you sending me, to which she kept mum, and kissed my forehead.
Too many rituals. I was bogged down. It had taken a toll on me. Meeting so many relatives, coming from far away lands, bringing stories that set everyone nostalgic. A sense of belonging though was visible in daadi’s eyes, she never let me sit idle. She’d come to me and sit beside me, take special care of me, if I’d want water, she’d order at least 3 people, if there was a strand of hair on my face, she’d tuck it under the ears. She behaved as if I’d never return. Was I?
The last night. It was one of the dreadful nights. I knew I was going somewhere. Somewhere in the hills. Where daffodils and greenery would encompass my eyes every morning. Ma told me it’s for the best. Dad was blank. He kept himself busy with his paperwork. It was a long journey. From plains to the Doon valley. The train was taking its own sweet time. The air that came from the small windows carried the smell of the paddy fields. Mustard as well. I was trying to divert my mind. This is the first time I’d be leaving my family. My parents. My elder sis, my cousins. The fun and frolic under the mango grove. The summer nights and ice-cream parties. The candies and mango shakes. I’d miss them all. Alas.
The last night. It was too tiring. People, hordes of them, had come to meet ‘us’. Most of them I didn’t even know. And to make it worse, I had to pose with them for a ‘special’ photograph. After the family dinner, started the never-ending rituals. I knew each one of it. Had been to several marriages, but never thought one day it would be my turn too. I wasn’t ever prepared for it.
This moment. This very moment. Standing at the entrance. I feared entering the gate. Ma, dad and didi, they were convincing me to enter the gate. But I was crying. I don’t want to be here. I’m happy with you there at home. Then the principal of the boarding school came and smiled at me. She gave me a strawberry candy and asked me to see the playground once. I knew that was a trick. But when ma showed confidence in me and said, “She’s a strong girl, don’t worry, show her the room first”, I couldn’t decline. It somehow pacified me. After a while, they all started to leave. I couldn’t bear the separation. I ran towards ma and hugged her. She bore some tears, but didn’t wail. She ought to be strong, to make me stronger. Dad ruffled my hair and said, “This is going to be your home now. Take care of yourself and be a good girl.” Didi just cried. She wanted me as much I needed her.
This moment. This very moment. Standing at the gate of this banquet hall. I fear stepping out of it. I wish this moment could freeze. All the while I was okay, but just now, I came to realize that I no longer belong to my parents, this home. I’m going away. To a new home, to new parents, to a new life. Glimpses of the past flashed in my mind, Daadi’s loris echoing in my ears, ma’s teachings and love, dad’s calmness and making me what I am today, didi’s concern and backing. Everything. I don’t want to leave. As the orchestra started playing the saxophone, the cacophony became unbearable. My mother-in-law was patting on my shoulder, saying that it’s okay, don’t worry. As I neared the car, my heart heaved. I couldn’t hold it anymore and I cried like a small girl. I cried to my heart;s content, hugging ma tightly. But when ma showed confidence in me and said, “She’s a strong girl, don’t worry, she’d be fine”, I somehow was pacified. Dad kept his hand on my head and said, “That is going to be your home now. Take care of yourself and be a good girl.” Didi cried too, she’s been through this before.