It felt so good to be able to go back home finally. I missed my mother and my sisters. I missed home cooked food.
I have been having (rock) chapthis, and curry that looked, smelled and tasted same, but was called ‘sambar’ one day, ‘rasam’ the next day, ‘dal’ on the third day.
The ladies hostel mess contractor was on his way to become the richest man on earth and he had the skills to achieve that.He could cook one single chicken and serve Chicken Curry to 350 students.
I wanted to eat some good food, atleast a piece of chicken, not a fragment of chicken and I looked forward to going back home.
All the malayalee girls and boys were leaving the college together. No one asked me, if I would like to join them. I took an autorickshaw and went to the railway station on my own. When I reached the road where the Tibetans used to sell sweaters, I stopped the auto and got off. I wanted to find the lady selling jewelleries and perhaps buy something from her, so I can pay her back for the tea she bought me.
There were only 2 traders in the entire stretch of road. And it wasn’t like before, when they used to hang the sweaters on the railings at the back of their make shift shops, the two traders had kept the sweaters inside 2 big plastic bags and if someone wanted to see a sweater, they took it out from the plastic bag and showed it, if they didn’t buy it, they folded it and kept it back inside the plastic bag
I asked the first trader in Hindi
“Where did everyone go? Where is the lady who sold the jewelleries?”
He ignored me and kept looking at both sides of the road.
An old man sitting on the pavement spoke to me in Kannada
“They have all gone. Police came and took all their sweaters, saying they can’t sell anything here, because they are illegals”
“But they are not illegals, Indian government gave them asylum” I spoke
“Amma” the old man called me, It is winter now and the police officers want free sweaters and they use one excuse or the other to get it. How can you fight with the police?”
I already had a sweater and if I bought another one, Amma would skin me alive. I thought of giving the trader some money, but the disgust on his face clearly spoke volumes of how much he hated, people like me. Even after escaping the Chinese regime, we don’t allow them to live peacefully and earn an honest income.
I walked back to the railway station and what a difference it was compared to a trip to Kottayam railway station. No one sang romantic songs asking me to marry him, no one asked me, if I need a ride, no one whistled, and best of all, all the men in Bangalore are healthier, they don’t suffer from sudden body spasm when they walk near a woman and touch her breast or butt to regain their balance. It felt so good to be able to walk on the street without being harassed and molested.
The station was crowded with everyone wanting to go back home in time for Christmas. I didn’t have any reservation, so I bought a normal ticket and went to the platform to find the ladies compartment.
I knew it would be crowded and the journey is going to be a nightmare. Amma doesn’t like wasting money to reserve a berth. I wished my mother knows how hard it is to travel in a crowded compartment
When I reached the ladies compartement, it was just as I thought, It was very crowded, but this time, everyone was in high spirits. One aunty moved a little bit and gave me a little space to sit.
Everyone was talking to each other, telling each other about their Christmas plans.
“This year, we are going to my mother’s house for Christmas” Spoke one lady excitedly
“Oh you are so lucky, My husband won’t allow me to go to my mother’s house for Christmas, he wants us to go to his family home” spoke another young lady. She had a small baby on her lap.
“Where is your husband?” Asked someone else
“He is working in Dubai and I stay with my parents in Bangalore. She is my parent’s first grand child” The lady pointed to the baby on her lap
“My husband won’t let her spend her first Christmas with my parents. He called me yesterday and told me, I must go to Kerala and spend Christmas with his parents. I didn’t even get a train reservation. If he wanted me to go, he could have told me earlier No? I could have got a reservation and didn’t have to struggle in a ladies compartment with a 9 month old baby. My parents did so much for my husband, they paid money for him to get visa to go to Dubai, they bought him the air ticket, his parents didn’t even buy a dress for their grand daughter, and still my husband won’t let my parents celebrate Christmas with their grand daughter”
“Never mind. It is alright, Men are like that. They never think, what we women go through. It is only a Christmas, your parents will have lots of Christmas with their grand daughter later” Another women spoke
The one with the baby just shook her head, she and we, the rest of the passengers knew the truth, that once you are married, your husband decides everything for you.
“Are you studying in Bangalore?” someone asked me
“Hmm” I nodded my head
“Medicine” I spoke
“Oh” There was a sudden change in everyone’s attitude. I didn’t understand why I should be considered different just because I am doing medicine. I am still the same old person.
In the morning, I looked out of the train window. From the dry parched land of Tamil Nadu, it is soothing to the soul to see the Kerala landscape.
Green grass on the ground, the paddy fields, the rivers, the coconut trees, those tiny brick houses with thatched roofs and now, most of the houses had a Christmas star hung outside.
So many different types of stars, some were small, some were home made, some were hung outside homes that also had a thulasi thara(Hindu homes).
I just wanted the train to go faster, so I can be home soon. Home for Christmas. I started to sing
I’ll be home for Christmas
I’ll be home just in time
I can’t wait ’till I see you
Feel your heart next to mine
We’ll Be Together again like before
You and I all alone
I’ll hold you close when I walk through that door
I’ll be home for Christmas
We can stay by the fire
With the lights turned down low
We can watch happy children
As they play in the snow
Though I may be far away from you now
Darling I promise this
It wont be long ’till we’re sharing a kiss
I’ll be home for Christmas
‘ll be home for Christmas
I’ll be home Christmas time
When you wait Christmas morning
I’ll be there by your side.
Every one was watching me and I couldn’t care less. I was so excited.
“sing another song” I heard someone speaking
“yes, yes sing another song” aunty next to me nudged me
I sang Silent Night and I could hear some of the ladies singing along. it felt so good, just to be in Kerala in time for Christmas.