Sunday, August 26, 2007

The final day...

'So, all set to fly?'

'Did you check the flight time properly? One of my friends missed his flight cos he reached the airport at 2:50 pm instead on 2:50 am..'

'So, both of you brothers are going abroad the same year. We will miss you...'

"Siddharth, Tara aaji's on phone, come quickly..."

I checked the clock. Quarter to eight, and this damn resume was still incomplete. I ran to the bedroom.

'Hello aaji. Ho... ho... nakki... ho... ho.. nakki parat yein' I handed the receiver back to mom.

"Siddharth, Dinner's ready... what??? you didnt have your bath yet?.. go now!"

Ah. Bliss. Silence in the bathroom. I checked each and every tile. I wont see them for an year at least. Remembered the bath that I had in Diwali, with utna, peeth. The day when I had unknowingly kept the door open and mom came barging in! Nope. not now.

Hmm. The aroma of fried fish wafted towards me. Bliss. I tasted the soft meat and closed my eyes. i had to get this taste registered well in my brain. If man can remember and recall sights and sounds, then why not smell? Dinner done.

'recheck the bags. Dont wear the sweater now. Do that at airport..'

The car's here. Get the bags quick. Hustle-bustle. a sniff. a tear.

i stand in front of the Lord. A memory. The day I had lit up the garland with matches. I bow to him. I ask for strength, for peace of mind... the world prayer escapes my lips. Kisses and hugs.

I venture out. Neighbors gather like a swarm of moths at a firelight. The familiar faces who smiled at me since childhood, who gave me sweets. I miss some friends who are not there. Byes and take cares.

Friends waiting at the gate. Shy, polite, unsure what to say. i wink at them and get into the car. The signal at andheri, a street urchin with Indian flags in hand. Right, its the day before our independance day. A flicker of patriotism in my eyes. Nothing more.

"Terminal 2C!! Turn right" I expect to see a quiet place. But i see otherwise. Chaos. Cars moving in, dropping customers and their belongings and speeding away. I get down. Which gate is it? I load a trolley and push it up. 'Heck, I should have done bench press...' "Sorry .. oops... make way!!... " I am wearing 2 sweaters now, over a cozy sweat shirt and a Tee. Guess i didnt know sweat shirts actually induce sweat. Drops raining down my head. 'Should have cut the damn hair...'

I see mavshi and wave at her. She guides me into the terminal assuring my hapless parents and confused friends that I will be back. I move in with Jay. Quiet. Organised. Everyone in line to get the baggage check done. I join the fray, trying to handle the vital passport and the I-20. Bags checked. Now the difficult part. baggage weight. Mavshi solves that for me. 'Business class boarding pass' An attendant comes and takes our baggage. We run back to family and friends. Chaos. My mind is numb with emotions and sights. Hands grope me. i fumble with my hand bag. Kisses rained. A touch. Impossible, trying to remember so many faces. i look at everyone, they look back at me. Tears and hopes. Two eyes stand out from the rest. The woman who cradled me, who hugged me when I was sore, who inspired me, who challenged me to do better, who loved me more than anything else, whose life was incomplete without me... two eyes, countless memories...

The door shuts out the hullaballoo. I head towards the counter. Fill up some forms. Excitement in my eyes. A sense of independence. A sense of responsibilty. Now I am on my own. My words are final. My actions are accountable. The long wait at the lounge begins...