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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Long walk home...

“Beta sab theek hai. Khana khayega” That’s the signature statement my dad always seems to clarify or make irrespective of whether I was within city limits, out of the country or possibly another galaxy. I heard this statement again and pondered through my long and lonely walk from the domestic airport to the rick stand as I had just flown in from Bangalore to Mumbai on a warm humid night.

A harsh reality hit me. In the recent past, none of the times was I dropped or picked up from the train station or the airport. It’s another thing that I expressed chivalry and wanted to be the ‘I-can-do-it-myself gal’. But it would be a welcome change to see a surprise pick-up or drop once in a while. To be fair I couldn’t expect friends or family members to chauffeur me especially when I was notorious for taking all odd hour journey options. It just had to be late evening or midnight – anything before complete sunrise.

And yet I time traveled back to the ye ol’ days when the whole family would pile up in cabs and ricks to see us off. Tear-jerkers and handkerchief exchanges were a common sight – I even dreaded it sometimes especially when dad would leave us to go to Nigeria or later, and most commonly, when mum would send me back to boarding school at the start of the school year. Most of the times they were midnight flights. Somehow late evening and night journeys add that extra bit of moroseness to the whole farewell scene. One goes home to cry into their blankets or aircraft pillows.

I wished for someone to pick me up. I wished to be swept away in arms and hugs and covered in appropriate kisses followed by an inappropriate number. Be it the brother, the friend or the boyfriend. I craved to know that someone somewhere waited so long to see me and couldn't wait no more and made the journey to see me arrive. Instead I walked bags on both shoulders, waving off eager rickwalas and cabwalas with the ease of a billionaire heiress waving of paparazzi. Walked as far as my jetlagged feet could take me and nearly threatened a rick guy to take me home ON METER only. I didn't even realize that the poor fellow intended to just charge me meter (assumed that they were all automatically out to fleece me).

I looked forward to getting home and getting dad’s home cooked meal. Even if his intent was just to feed me and probably pick another fight (his version of an ongoing conversation), I still looked forward to it. He called and stressed and waited for the return of Tom and Jerry. Just like the ever quarreling duo who would kill each other and yet reach a slump if 1 was absent. The alternate and more eagerly awaited plan was to meet the boyfriend. However, he unleashed a volley of his own anger on me when (and get this) I had just been airborne during take-off. Maybe it was an ‘off’ evening for me. The farewell was bittersweet from my beloveds, the arrival a tad bit too hot and humid from the cold and rain-washed Bangalore and the walk home a long, lonely and miserable 1.

I do often look outside the glass panes just before exiting the airport or train station to see if someone indeed did show up… just like the old days!