This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 13; the thirteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
I've always experienced a surge of happiness coupled with nervous anticipation while journeying through these treacherous mountainous routes. The forking of the road at critical points, the mild jerking of the vehicle now and then, the wild but sweet scent of some unknown resinous pine, the cold misty air fogging up my vision mingled with an inexplicable sense of foreboding always transported me into a state of semi-consciousness.
And yet, everything about this car-ride today through familiar Dehra Dun terrain seems so alien to me. There's no excitement bubbling in the pit of my stomach, there's no planning for what to buy at the mall or where to settle for a coffee and sandwich, there's no eagerness of meeting up with someone. There's not even the fear of death by a disastrous road accident that seemed to perturb me quite often.
Only a twinge of regret deep down somewhere.
I recline into the comfortable, plush leather seating and zip up my jacket.
There was a time when this all-consuming chill in the air used to get on my nerves. After all, till the age of 9 I had been used to the gruesome summers of the capital and Mumbai.
My father's transferable job ensured that we were always on the move, until the day my parents came to the unanimous decision of sending me to boarding school in Dehra Dun. And my life changed drastically.
School years taught me the basic tenets of survival- how to excel academically and in sports, make friends, be satisfied with once-a-week phonecalls and infrequent visits by parents.
But things changed when you came into my life.
First batch-mates at the university, then friends with similar interests, and much later husband and wife.
My parents had always been like a couple of distant relatives to me. So it wasn't too hard for me to turn a deaf ear to their vehement protests of us getting married.
A Punjabi girl marrying a lad of the mountains must have been a huge scandal in the family. I'm not too sure. I never went back to find out.
Unlike me you belonged here. You taught me everything about this quiet city that I wasn't aware of. You took me places which I didn't even know existed.
And finally I discovered what I had been searching for. A sense of calm within. A place I could call 'home' and a person I could come home to.
'Madamji would you like to stop by for lunch somewhere?' my chauffeur enquires of me in perfect Hindi, interrupting my chain of reminiscent thoughts.
I ponder over the question for a moment and nod my head in either direction.
'I am good...but if you want you can stop by and have some. I don't mind waiting.'
'I've eaten.' his reply is brusque and precise, just as it had been at the time he had first arrived at my doorstep, a few months back.
Just like my dad to arrange for this luxurious car and a no-nonsense, protocol-obeying driver, that too in these scarcely-populated regions.
I had barely stopped marveling at his possible connections all over the country, when the phone rings for the third time that morning.
I don't even bother looking at the illuminated screen and hit the 'answer' button.
'Have you reached yet?' drawls a voice cold and smooth as ice.
'Mom, didn't I say I'll call before boarding the plane?' I say exasperatedly.
'Well...I was just making sure.' she sounds a little bit apologetic.
'Where's Meethi?' I ask somewhat nervously.
'At this hour?'
'There was a thunderstorm late last night...she was terrified of the lightning...couldn't sleep well even though I stayed with her the whole time.'
My mother, the lady with iron determination and as emotionless as a wax sculpture, seldom sounds so close to tears.
I close my eyes for a few seconds in an attempt to drive away the swell of emotions threatening to break my peaceful stance.
I will not cry. I had made a promise to myself.
'I'll be there soon. Don't worry.' I manage to whisper and disconnect the call.
As much as I've resented both my parents for the major part of my life, I'll be eternally indebted to them for the moral support they've lent me throughout these past 6 months.
I can't recall the number of times they had offered to escort me back to Delhi. But I had disagreed every time, only allowing them take Meethi in and help me with the shifting of furniture and personal belongings.
Such is the relationship between a parent and child. No matter how much strain it comes under, the bond still remains unbreakable.
But then if that's true... I wonder how you were able to let go of Meethi so easily!
That little girl who would never let me tie her school shoelaces or read to her at bedtime, who would stubbornly refuse to fall asleep no matter how late you were every night...
Deciding to cut her off from your life...was it not hard at all?
I hadn't even noticed the looming form of Jolly Grant Airport or that we were parked on the right hand side of the road.
I get out of the car while my driver of few words takes out my luggage.
He insists on carrying it inside but I stop him.
'It's a single suitcase. I can manage....'
'No please let me...'
'Never mind what my dad told you to do....' I offer him a half-smile and hand him a 500-rupee note.
'Everything has already been taken care of madam ji.' He shakes his head.
But I'm not discouraged.
'This is not money I'm offering you. Please take this as a token of my gratitude for driving me around safely. For all these months.'
He looks hesitant for a moment...then takes it.
'Please have a safe journey.' he offers me a salute and drives off.
It maybe my imagination but I think even he could understand my need to be all by myself at this moment.
This moment is all I have.
As soon as I step inside the airport premises I'll be engulfed by the trials and tribulations of a new beginning.
Life and its ironies.
Right here right now, I feel like that 9 year-old girl who left her notions of home and family back in Delhi to get accustomed to the ways of a new life in a new city. Apprehensive, skeptical, insecure.
And indelibly sad.
Not because you love another woman now. Not because I couldn't find a trace of dolefulness in your face and expressions that day at the court. Not even because all my beliefs have been shattered into a million pieces.
But because I am leaving my home behind once again. But because my little girl had to say goodbye to her father without even knowing it.
As I feel a kind of wet warmth spreading across my right cheek, I realize I have ended up breaking that promise made to self.
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