“Madam, you want coolie?” The coolie guy standing at the exit door of the train asked her in Kannada influenced English tone. Mira is fidgeting with her hand bag along with 3 other suitcases trying to get down of the train compartment on her own. She is the last person to get down from the Ahmadabad-Yeshwantpur train in her compartment. She knows no one is coming to pick her today from the railway station. Her father has to cater to his sick neighboring friend and elder brother has some urgent meeting it since 9 am in the morning(that’s what he said). Her mother barely ventures outside of the house alone and she didn’t felt the need to ask her sister in law. Ankita, her thirteen year old niece? What would she know? Besides it’s eleven o’ clock. She must be in school right now.
“Hain Bhaiya, I would need you,” she said dumping the suitcases on the platform. On top of everything her green dupatta is flying here and there inspite of being pinned up. The coolie picks up the three bags on his head one by one and whisks her out of the station. He is walking at a supersonic speed and she being in heels is pushed and shoved by the fellow commuters. She really wished if someone had come to pick her up.
As she steps out of the Majestic railway station, an overwhelming sense of familiarity sets her in. The sky is overcast with dark clouds and the weather is windy. But she knows Bangalore weather too well; it’s not going to rain until 4.00 pm in the evening. It will pour cats and dog’s then eventually creating massive traffic jams everywhere. Although the traffic jams are the drawbacks, the numerous chat and momo stalls that sprawl at every nook and corner of the city are a boom. The smell of hot steamy momos is still fresh in her memories. She doesn’t remember the last time she had eaten a plate of good momos.
She reaches the auto stand where the coolie is already waiting for her with the suitcases kept on the ground. He takes the money and goes back to his world. She asks one auto guy if he would take her to Mathikere. The auto guy not only agrees but turns the meter on as well. That’s a rarity as per Bangalore standards. Auto guys never agree in one go and act as if they are doing a favor to you by switching on the meter. As the auto drive past the lane and by lanes of the streets of Bangalore, it feels like yesterday when she was born. The city was her lifeline, her soul until she got married.
She reached their apartment complex which her father had bought right before her wedding and his retirement. The familiar security guard smiled at her and helped her get the luggage in the lift. She pressed the button for 4th floor, flat D-7, her home.
The maid opened the door and wished her with the same warmth and familiarity, “Kaisa hai aap baby ji?!” She said.
Mira nodded at her looking around for her family members. She knew her mother was in the kitchen and Bhabhi somewhere around. No one bothered to come and say a mere hello to her. She walks up to the kitchen to find her mother frying the vegetables in the pan on the gas stove.
“You want water?” Her mother asked without looking at her.
“I will take it,” She said softly while opening the kitchen cabinets to fetch the drinking glass.
“I will get it, go sit in the guest room, don’t clutter the kitchen. I have lot of work to do.” Her mother thundered. She clearly wasn’t happy to see her there.
She goes and sits in the guest room. A sense of hurt and resentment sets her in. She didn’t expect this behavior from her own family members. The atmosphere was completely different when she was here last time. There was a welcome party then with all her friends and relatives invited. Everyone wanted to know how her newly married life was going on. Everyone has their share of jokes and free suggestions for the new bride. Not this time around. Now that she has filed for divorce, there is no need for a welcome party or another set of free advice’s. She can hear the tinkles of her Bhabhi’s anklets. But even she doesn’t want to come and greet her. She is taking her own sweet time. The last time, that she was here, everyone was hugging and pouncing over her, giggling and pinching her. No one doing that as of today.
She looks around the house one more time. She felt like a stranger in her own home.