Do evenings still make you miss home, they ask.
Pfft no not any more that was almost a year ago when I’d just left Trivandrum.
It was New Year and we were supposed to celebrate. I knew we were supposed to cos the reading room had remained shut. So the 60-odd souls, some unbespectacled (like me from the good ol’ days), mostly with specs and clothes worn straight for a week were made to dig up their roots growing from beneath their seats where they sit eating up WiFi all day and night, getting up only to attend calls and nature’s calls.
The reading room basically shoves its occupants out once in a while viz. Holi, Christmas, etc and that’s how we know that it’s been a month or two or a year even. Well, two in some cases.
Since we were supposed to celebrate, I stayed in my room, ordered food and chomp-chomped watching Julia Roberts eating (well something between that and sucking in but isn’t that how many of us slurp it) spaghetti off her Italian plate, Katut sermons in tropical and sweaty Bali, When You Say Nothing At All in the middle of a park and singing Forever and Ever at rehearsal dinner table at the Best Friend’s Wedding.
I slept off somewhere in the middle.
When I woke up, it was dark and raining. Outside the window, there were lights and honking from rain-induced traffic below.
The tall curtains were only half-drawn and there was an army of headlights at the signal. Orange streetlamps bathed the building in front of mine from under, a pigeon was perched on its roof against the deep maroon sky, or was it?
Slanting slivers of rain hugged at my panes and more kept beating against, drowning everything else with them.
And I had that really strange/lonely/confused/clueless feeling when you wake up after an evening nap, and the first question when you open your eyes and scan the darkness around is (always), Am I in Hogwarts? Gryffindor Living Room? We must be on our Hogsmeade trip, I probably slept off. And finally to find out what ‘gingerbeer’ tastes like. Where are the others though?
Then you come to your senses that it isn’t Hogwarts. You never caught the train, never got the letter, you missed the feasts and the Sorting Hat and the Quidditch and Fred n George and everything else JK Rowling had promised. This is when it’s worst, when you feel like you missed the last 10 years of your life in ignorant sleep, when you are reminded that Hogwarts was a big big joke on you, and even if it wasn’t a joke, you’re 22 now. So again, joke’s on you.
In these deep situations, I usually decide I’ll make do with chaya if not gingerbeer. So I call for Amma.
Except this time, there was no chaya either. So I was just sitting on my bed, staring at the window not least because it was an inconsequential Jan 1 – it always is – but because it was evening. Alone.
Achan Amma were probably watching the 7pm news in our living room now, an old habit that stuck on from the days of Doordarshan. He would have attended the JanaMaitri meeting in the evening and she would now have lit the lamp and he would have shut all the windows to keep out mosquitoes, and they would’ve settled in front of the TV after tea.
Usually, it used to be Achan Amma and me on weekends. Usually, we would eat the stew I had cooked after extracting the three thengapaal’s (coconut milk) watching Om Shanthi Oshana at 5 pm (Asianet played that a lot).
Oh look who else wears shorts at home like paru, she says.
At least she doesn’t look homeless, says he, every time. Oh pinne’s (Yeah right’s) would surface. It happened so often it is
almost a ritual.
Do evenings still remind me of home?
Some days, especially New Year’s, I think.
But what’s life without a little missing?