It is a truth universally acknowledged that people who come to spend a holiday in the city blog about it, either when they arrive or before leaving. Since I am not extraordinary, how can I break the tradition!
So there was the customary outing with close friends, hahas and heeehees, the usual desperate effort to ignore relatives. Though really feel bad about not being able to meet some of them--an old uncle who wished to see me, my four nephews and nieces who are quite adorable (I hate kids but I love them).
Ma would potter about in the house finding a million things that I could/would/might need in Delhi. She has discussed in great detail how much weight I have put on and how after a few months my eyes will be invisible as the fat in my cheeks expands in every direction. Then as I lazed around in my favourite, soon-to-be antique, sleeveless nighty, she looked at my arms and said (chewing every word) that I should rotate them c-l-o-c-k-w-i-s-e and a-n-t-i-c-l-o-c-k-w-i-s-e.
Baba is still in his post-retirement hyperactive phase. This is such a dangerous phase. Species suffering from this are gripped with a sudden fear of an empty bank account, daughter going on a shopping spree does not help things. At night before we go to sleep, the dining area is flooded with torch light, or so I thought, then I realised it's actually some hopeless new kind of bulb that emits an apology in the name of light. If Ma and I are reading in the morning, he arrives and switches off the light and parts the curtain. Often we are not in our best attire, fit to be seen by neighbours, but who cares? Then suddenly he will pace around with crinkled eyebrows mentally computing the cost of running the house and then asking me how I manage... my replies are nothing short of scandalous and often they shock him out of his wits.
Before I arrived I made grand plans of visiting grand places. Nothing happened. I just lay there, like a dead body. Every day at eleven, Baba would tempt me with a cup of Darjeeling tea, which is my definition of luxury and sipping that I would read t2. What else does one do on holidays? I think even if I go on a Europe-tour, it won't feel like a holiday if I do not get my t2 there. The horoscope, the useless fashion advice, the outrageous celeb-photos, the twitter updates--nothing spells 'welcome home' more than t2 does.
There is much little sky visible from my window now, a house at the corner of the road is becoming a four-storey flat or something.
The two sides of the lane that leads to the main road is full of red stains of paan, the increase in the number of red blotches is directly proportional to the rise in the number of Marwari households and the number of cars and the number of drivers and the number of offices.
Every time I come home I try and look for changes, as if looking for some sign that says that things change when I am not here. But they don't. Not much. My room is still the same. The other rooms are still the same. The paint is peeling off the walls from the very same places as they did few months back, my mother still needs the mandatory eye-drops at night. She still walks down the steps one step at a time because it hurts otherwise. The annoying showpieces still stand where they stood always. In their own subtle way, the universe reminds me that they can all 'muddle through without you'. For a few minutes nostalgia is replaced by a sense of obhimaan (I do not what English word fits in here) when I realise this. Ironically that is also comforting, it helps me to be in denial about my need for being there ... there's still time ... I tell myself. Till things remain the same, I can feel a little less guilty about not being there. For them. For my parents, for the rooms, for the city.