Home really is where the heart is. During adolescence, I couldn't help feeling trapped in my shabby town, meeting the same faces everyday. At instances, when I had to ask my parents for permission to hang out with my friends or the obligation to come back home before 7 PM felt like a hindrance to my freedom. I had aspirations to live by myself with no ground rules for coming back home early in the evenings. I couldn't wait to grow up and move out of the town to travel around the world. But on the contrary, after all these years when I finally am living all by myself, I miss being with my parents in that small town. Life has a wicked sense of humor.
8th October, 2019. I woke up to the pilot's announcement. We were about to land at Indira Gandhi International Airport. I looked around and saw most of the people were asleep. We had been flying for 13 hours. I looked out the window and saw the sunlight departing in the horizon, paving way for the night sky. Below me, I could see the shimmering lights of New Delhi in its full glory.
The scene was so magical, I felt an outburst of emotions. It felt like finding my true belonging, after being afar for so long. I tried, but miserably failed in holding back my tears while we touched down. After all that was wrong with my life, I was finally home.
I was getting impatient to meet my father. I called him as soon as I got coverage on my phone.
He instructed me to get out at the arrivals and wait for him to come over and get me. I collected my baggage and headed out the airport. Shortly, as I reached the gates, I felt blazing gust of breeze on my face. Delhi was unusually hot for October but never the less, it couldn't downplay my excitement to be abode.
I called Father again. He told me that it'll take them another 10 minutes to be there. I resorted to the side of the road, adjusted my watch to the Indian time and kept looking at the massive number of people passing by. I couldn't help being amused at the never ending hustle of India. I was smiling to myself. After 20 minutes passed by, I was trying hard to seal down my anticipation. I couldn't see the car anywhere but just when I turned around, I saw my father walking towards me. There are very few moments in life where you are completely free of sadness, anxiety, fear, doubt and despair. The moment of pure happiness and bliss. I believe meeting your parents after years of longing is one such moment.
I left my luggage on the road side and straight out dashed to hug my father after 4 long years. I hugged him so tight and started crying convulsively. He patted my head and stood there while I clinged to him. After crying a river, we grabbed my luggage and started walking towards the car.
While approaching, I could make out a tall figure sitting in the backseat. The door opened and to my surprise, appeared my younger sister, about 4 inches taller than me! I exclaimed to her,"Man you have grown so tall." She chuckled.
We got in the car and headed for a 6 hours journey to my town. We stopped on the way at a diner. At this point, I was already feeling sick because of gastropharesis and the tiring, long flight. I rushed to the wash and puked my guts out. Moments later, I was sitting at the table, ravenously satisfying my munchies, eating like a horse before we hit the road again. I was nauseous and asleep most of the way.
It was about 2 AM when we reached home. Everyone was fast asleep except Mother. She opened the door for me and kissed my cheeks. I embraced her and walked in my home. It was pretty late so I decided not to wake anyone up. I changed and crashed on my bed instantly.
The next morning, I woke up early and headed to my grandfather's room. After years, I was looking at my old man.
He looked so weak and pale. I stood there for a while, gazing at the sight of him trying to find his image from my memories. He had lost a lot of weight. He looked back at me and tears rolled down both of our eyes. After all these years, I was so happy to be able to hug my grandpa.
He has gotten very sick this past year. It all started with a foot infection and ended up him being on dialysis. He used to be the most alive guy I had ever known, always functional on the move, busy doing something for someone in the house. It broke my heart to see him bedridden. We sat there for long, just talking, mostly looking at each other.
I strolled back to my house, where I met my grandmother, my uncles, aunties and my cousins. A lot of hugs, a lot of kisses and a lot of water works. I felt elated, being welcomed back to the home I spent my childhood in. I missed all of them so much.
The coming weekend, I decided to accompany my grandfather for his dialysis session. It was a 2 hours drive to his hospital. I get motion sickness, while in the navigator's seat so I was uncomfortable, nauseating most of the way but once I was there, I wouldn't leave his side.
While they were putting on the tubes on him, the doctor asked me to wait outside as they do not put tubes with the patient's family watching, as it is not one of the most pleasing sight to watch your family member going through pain. I resisted at first, but then I stepped out for a while.
It usually takes around 4 hours for one dialysis session. I tried to keep him accompanied for most of that time. I was famished by the time we got back. I just had dinner and hit the sack.
The next day, there was a religious service organised by one of my uncles. Most of the people from my neighborhood, close relatives and friends were there. It was rejoicing meeting them after ages. I had a good time. I took these pictures during the service. Little did I know, that something imminent was in the wind.
My vacation took a nasty turn and nothing was like what I had imagined in my mind.