‘Where the hell did I put my stupid phone,’ Tripti mumbled to herself, tossing and shuffling the clothes on the bed. ‘I wonder who is calling?’
The sound of Tripti’s muffled phone had her tossing things every which way to find it.
‘There it is! I found it,’ Tripti sighed, picking up her mother’s call.
‘Welcome to Delhi!’ her mother announced excitedly, gripping the phone tightly. ‘I knew you flew in late last night, and I didn’t want to bother you. I’m sure you both must have been so tired.’
‘Thanks, Mom,’ Tripti grinned. ‘It feels so weird to move back to Gurgaon after eight years. The house allotted by Raunak’s company is lovely, and our locality is so quiet and peaceful. I could even hear the birds chirping this morning rather than having to listen to the cars honking and the subjee wala screeching his head off. But I’m feeling weird, Mom. It’s like I’m already homesick.’
‘Oh! My poor little girl. Hang in there. This, too, shall pass. And I agree, Bangalore is a bustling city. There is a perpetual hustle-bustle, especially where you lived in Wilson Garden. But now you’ve moved to a new city to start a new life.’
‘I know it will take some time,’ Tripti sighed.
‘Do you need help settling in?’ Mom asked.
‘Well, I have almost finished unpacking the suitcases. I started early this morning. Our cupboards are almost organized. But I have to go shopping to buy stuff for the kitchen,’ Tripti said. ‘I haven’t brought anything with me from Bangalore. I felt there wasn’t a need to lug so many pots and pans all the way from there. Plus, I didn’t want to take away any of the utensils from my mother in law. Our kitchen was a joint family set-up, and now it feels weird to have the entire kitchen all to myself.
‘That’s true, dear. Listen, I have a great idea. Why don’t you come over and then we can go shopping together after lunch, I’m sure you have nothing in the house to eat,’ Mom suggested.
‘Actually, I was just going to order some food. But this sounds perfect, Mom,’ Tripti smiled. ‘I’ll see you around noon.’
Within an hour, Tripti quickly finished arranging the clothes in her cupboard. After taking a quick shower, she called for a cab to drop her off at her mother’s place. ‘It feels so weird to have Mom so close to my house,’ Tripti thought to herself as she entered her mother’s colony.
Tripti and her mother hugged each other warmly as usual. They were thrilled to see each other after so many long months.
‘It feels so good to hug you,’ Tripti said. ‘I’ve missed you so much, Mom.’
‘And, it’s so nice to be hugged,’ her mother smiled, holding on tightly. ‘You know what a touch me not your father is.’
‘Where is Dad anyway?’ Tripti asked.
‘At work. As usual.’
Soon, Tripti and her mother sat down at the dining table for lunch. The dining room had a row of enormous glass cabinets filled with glasses, crockery, fancy showpieces and memories.
‘Hey Mom, do you remember that teapot dad picked up from when we were on holiday in Sabah?’ Tripti said. She took her plate to the kitchen and walked over to the tall glass cabinet in the middle.
‘Yes, I do. It was such a sweet thing to do. The monkey teapot where Papa monkey and Mumma monkey are dancing, holding each other close. And their little children are the sugar bowl and milk pot. I thought he had spent a bomb on it. And do you remember how he made me guess the cost?’
‘I know. That was my idea to make Dad make you guess. And it was only Ten Ringgit,’ Tripti smiled. ‘I remember Dad and I went to Yohan’s, that mall together, and we bought it. You should have seen how Dad’s eyes lit up when he saw it.’
‘I can imagine,’ Mom giggled. ‘It was such a wonderful holiday. Feels like ages ago, yet those memories are so fresh in my mind.’
‘I’ve got something to show you,’ Mom said, getting off the chair and walking toward the cupboard. She opened it and took out a big brown crate that said ‘Tripti’s stuff.’
Tripti walked up to the cupboard and stood next to her mother. Tripti’s eyes were filled with amazement as her mother opened the box. ‘Oh my God, Mom! You saved all my stuff from my room?’ Tripti smiled as she started to take items out of the crate.
‘Well, I didn’t have the heart to give it away. And you know what a little squirrel I am,’ Mom giggled.
‘Look at this,’ Tripti said, holding up a bright yellow tiny mug with a smile. My best friend, Aarushi, gave me this when I was in school. And oh, look at this picture of you and me. This picture was taken at our first Diwali in Mumbai.’
Mom took the golden oval framed picture in her hand and smiled. ‘Look at you holding on and clinging to me in my arms. I remember you hated the firecrackers.’
‘I still hate crackers, Mom,’ Tripti rolled her eyes as she began to take out more knick-knacks from the box.
‘Oh…Mom. Look at this adorable showpiece and look at the little bear,’ Tripti said. ‘You gave this to me when I started college.’
‘A daughter is just a little girl who grows up to be your best friend,’ Mom read aloud and smiled.
Tripti hugged her mother tightly and said, ‘Thank you, Mom. This means so much to me. I will be taking this entire box back home with me.’
‘Well, it’s all yours,’ Mom said, kissing her daughter’s cheek.
‘Come with me; there’s more,’ Mom said, stepping into the drawing-room. A big plastic basket was placed next to the sofa, filled with more things. ‘You mentioned you weren’t going to bring very many things with you. So, I have already bought some stuff for your kitchen.’
‘Oh, Mom. You shouldn’t have,’ Tripti tilted her head sideways.
‘There is so much stuff here, Mom!’ Tripti said as she took out each box from the basket. ‘There’s glasses, a dinner set, a milk pot and holy cow! A pressure cooker!’
‘If you don’t like the design on the dinner set, I can always get it exchanged,’ Mom added. ‘And there’s a cutlery set too.’
Tripti admired the pressure cooker in her hand and smiled at her mother, ‘Do you remember the first time you taught me how to cook food in the pressure cooker? The number of whistles used to be so confusing.’
Mom laughed. ‘I know, and your first meal turned out pretty well. Your father couldn’t tell if you cooked it or I did. And I also remember when you were a little girl, you hated the sound of the whistle. Every time the whistle went off, you would cover your ears with your hands and run under the dining table. And then you would scream… TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!’
Tripti giggled. ‘And you used to tell me that the choo choo train is coming.’
‘Yes, but you would just refuse to come out from under the table until I turned off the stove,’ Mom nodded her head. ‘You were such a happy baby. Bringing you up was such a pleasure.’
‘Oh, Mom! What would I do without you,’ Tripti said.
‘Anyway, let’s go shopping and pick up whatever else you need,’ Mom added. ‘Let me just get my phone and purse.’
In due time, Tripti dropped her mother home and drove back with Rakesh bhaiya, her mother’s old driver. Tripti rolled down the window, allowing the cool breeze to hit her face. She let out a long sigh and thought about her growing up days.
‘How time flies,’ she sighed to herself. ‘And how times have changed. How at times I wish I was a little girl again and I could run into my mother's arms anytime I wanted.’
After reaching home and unloading the car, she sat down in the middle of the hall surrounded by all the boxes her mother had sent. She began unpacking the boxes and setting up the house. She started with the kitchen. She washed the dinner set, cutlery, pressure cooker, and other pots and pans. Afterwards, she set up the house and placed her showpieces from her childhood along with more showpieces her mother had insisted she’d take. Her mother also sent about ten to fifteen different types of plants to decorate the house. ‘How can you not have plants in your house?’ her mother had said and quietly got Rakesh bhaiya to load the car.
Once Tripti finished setting up the house, she sat down in the middle of the hall and glanced around her new home. It didn’t feel so new anymore. She didn’t have that same feeling of uneasiness and homesickness. She didn’t feel overwhelmed with the number of things that needed to be done. There was peace and quiet. Tripti decided to make herself a cup of her all-time favourite chamomile tea.
As her tea brewed, she admired all the showpieces and plants Tripti had lovingly placed in her new home.
Just then, Tripti received a text message from her mother that said, ‘I hope you have settled in. I’m sorry I couldn’t drop by to help.’
Tripti smiled and replied, ‘That’s ok, Mom. You’ve already done enough. Even with you not being here with me, it’s like you already are. You’ve already made my new home feel like home.’