Starting from where I left it.
She closed her diary and shut her eyes. A thousand thoughts came rushing in. There would be some time before she wrapped up her work here and joined the new account office in Europe. Good enough to visit home in India. Why not?
Home. She often wondered where her home really was. It had been a while since she visited her parents in their hometown. She called them up almost everyday and had sponsored their visit to US twice in the last two and a half years, but she hadn't really been spending much time with them even when they were around. There was always too much work.
Honestly, she didn't feel much attached to the bungalow they now lived in. She had grown up elsewhere- in a small, cozy home which had windows facing the southern winds. The new house was in a posh locality, glamorous and decked up like a new bride - but it lacked the soul and the memories she had of her childhood in the older house. The guava tree that bore fruits all year long. The white, fragrant jasmine flowers she picked from the dew-clad grass on Autumn mornings. The Banyan tree that changed its color and form with seasons. It had a betel nut tree growing from inside it which she considered a wonder of nature. Pri asked her mother once how it was possible. Her mother surmised: 'I think a bird eating a nut might have sat on that tree and you know...' She didn't want to accept that something as beautiful could be born of pure shit. Now, she reconsidered a few things she disbelieved as a child.
She thought more of the green fields and the cows grazing in the meadows, and the narrow mud lanes that ran amuck. She heard herself laugh and giggle with the neighbor's kid as they sat on a brick wall with their legs dangling in sync. On Summer afternoons, they ate watermelons and spit out the black seeds to see whose went the farthest. She proudly claimed him to be her best friend until she joined middle school. And then, suddenly, his running nose, his loose pants and his inability to converse fluently in anything other than the vernacular seemed to matter. Her new friend was a classmate who had fancy clothes and the poorest grades.
She wouldn't have befriended her but Nita's mother had come over to Pri's house one day and asked her mother to help them with their ward. Pri had felt disgusted initially. She had sat next to her in an English class once. Nita wouldn't note down the homework the teacher marked for the following day. When Pri asked her the reason, Nita rolled her eyes and said: 'I don't want to!'
In the following years, when she got to know her more, she saw her do that often. Everytime Nita didn't want to do something, she would roll her eyes, make a tortured face and say: 'I don't want to !' Nita's mother was a very good friend of Pri's maternal aunt. That made things difficult. Maya aunty thought her daughter to be 'a little soft on the head'. But Pri knew that Nita wasn't stupid- she just didn't want to work hard. She had a severe aversion for studies. Maybe she had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Who knows? She didn't learn the name of the syndrome then.
With Pri's help, Nita's grades improved but it didn't last. Soon she moved to a different school, which Maya aunty considered to be 'more humane with the kids' in terms of homework and discipline.
(to be continued)