July 23, 2012 6:15 am

How long had it been? Two years? Maybe even more, but it didn’t matter. I was just glad to be back. The aroma of different herbs and spices filled the room. I walked into the kitchen, just to see Mom standing by the stove completely drenched in sweat.

“I made your favorite curry”, she said, handing me a spoonful.

“Mmmmm… I guess it does only happen in India” I replied, smacking my lips. She giggled. It was the first time I had seen her smile since my return.

I had just come back the other night from Singapore. Earlier I couldn’t wait to come home. Now, I didn’t know. Things were different. It hadn’t been very long since the accident. An unhealed scar lay on Mom’s shoulder. The scar she got when Dad left us. The thought of it brought tears to my eyes. The grief, pain, sorrow…it all came back. I felt incomplete—we all did.

My younger sister joined us. “Now that smells nice”, she said, and seeing our morose expressions, understood what was going through our minds. She decided to change the topic.

“So Di… how are the studies going? All ready for final year?”

The sudden question shook me out of the memories. “Ya? Oh…yeah. All set.” I replied in a weak tone. “And you? What’s the plan now that you’re over with boards?”

“Well, I’ve been meaning to tell you…”

“Tell me what?”

“Mom…um…should I?”

I glanced at mom. “Wait a minute. What’s happening here? Is everything all right?”

“Everything’s fine”, she answered, “we’re just going to be making a few changes around here, that’s all.”

“What kind of changes?” I asked hesitantly, for I thought I knew the answer. I had picked up hints from here and there, but kept convincing myself that it couldn’t be true. But then she said it.

“We’re selling the house” she uttered without meeting my eyes.

“But why? What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

“Don’t pretend you haven’t noticed. Pipes are leaking. Walls are broken. And bills just keep on coming, but there is no money to pay them”, she answered, now looking at me.

“But where are you going then?” I said.

“We found a flat. Not very big, but fine for the both of us”, she started to explain, “Uncle Sameer loaned us some money and I promise I will repay him back as soon as I can.”

“Uncle Sam?” I asked, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me earlier? I could have arranged some money…somehow.”

Her voice was shaky. “How could I have told you? I know you would’ve left everything and come. Your education is one thing I’ll never let you fool around with. At least that’s what your dad always told me.” She started to cry. I leaned forward and gave her a hug.

“It’s all right now, Mom. It’s okay. I’m here, and I respect everything you do for me. And we will get through this together, as one happy family. Right Aly?” I said, looking at my sister.

“Absolutely”, she replied without hesitation.

We had one of our family hugs, which somehow made it all alright. But in the back of our heads, we all knew it. So many memories in this one house. Both we sisters grew up here. Learned to walk, talk, eat, and I don’t know what else.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, leaving everything behind. All those nostalgic moments. Pep talks before competitions…the Saturday-night serial we’d watch…all those fights I had with my sister…everything just vanished before my eyes. It seemed like yesterday when Papa would come home with chocolates in his hand and we’d run towards him, barefoot, with Mom shouting from behind us to be careful.

Yes, it was difficult. But we’ll sail through the storm—we always did, and we always will…


Guneesha Sawhney


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