“What do you miss most about your city?”
She almost didn’t hear the question as she gazed into nothingness. She was suddenly jolted back to the present and to reality. It was too crowded, too noisy, too dark, too … everything. She couldn’t think for a minute and seeing her confused expression her friend repeated the question a little louder this time, “I asked what you missed most, about home, I mean.”
Finally, it seemed like she understood the question. Smiling wistfully, she said, “That’s a difficult question, you know. There’s no single thing I miss the most, there are so many. I miss the smells of the city, which change as the city changes. One moment you smell the delicious aroma of roadside bhajjis and wadas, and the next you smell some expensive perfume from the highly sophisticated women walking past, and the very next, you smell garbage and you wrinkle your nose and walk past as quickly as possible, to find yourself smelling something completely different and unknown. I miss the people and the crowds. There are so many people around you that you could never be alone, and yet you are because no one really knows you and it doesn’t always matter what you think or believe in. You might be cursing the people getting in your way when you are running to catch a train that’s leaving in the next minute, and yet, you see an unknown hand extending out of the compartment to pull you in and you take it, you jump in, smile at the stranger and say a quiet thank you, and then push your way through with the possibility of never setting eyes on the stranger again, one of the many faces you are likely to forget and yet, in an odd way, remember too.
“I miss the rains, the smell of the wet earth when it first rains, the constant tap tap on your window and the sloshing around in puddles and getting completely soaked even though you have an umbrella, because umbrellas really don’t help when it rains, really rains, in my city. I miss the sounds. It is so quiet here. When I look out of the window of this apartment, I don’t see people and the cars never honk. There are no firecrackers for no particular reason, and there are no vendors hawking their wares. I would constantly complain about the sounds, the children playing and screaming in the playground, the firecrackers in Diwali, but now I know that it was such an important part of my life. You know, we sometimes don’t appreciate the things that are right there in front of us, staring us in the face.”
Her friend was listening with rapt attention, never having heard her speak so much.
Suddenly realizing that she was looking at her, she quietly nodded.
The wistful look still present on her face, she continued, “I don’t know if you realize how important all this is to me. You might think I am rambling about all the wrong things here, smells, sound, crowds. But it’s true, these are some of the things I miss most about my city. I miss the lights too. My city looks beautiful during Diwali. There are lights everywhere; some of them twinkling, some stationary. There are lanterns in various shapes and when you look outside the window, you see the lights and the lanterns stretching as far as you can see, and you realize that there are people just like you: eating the same kind of sweets, laughing at similar everyday things, fighting about the same things, working just as hard as you do, and facing the same problems as you. It really puts matters into perspective, you know. Don’t take yourself too seriously; you are not alone in anything that happens to you—good or bad. I miss the festivals and the rituals that go with them. It really doesn’t matter whether you celebrate them or not, there are people around you, your family or friends, for whom the festival is important and that makes it significant in your eyes too. “And the food! I really miss the food; the street food—chaat, vada pav, bhajji, dosas, idlis, sandwiches—the different sweets, the home cooked food, which you might constantly complain about when at home but start missing as soon as you leave. But, I think what I miss most are the people. When you are at home, you might think that there are too many people around you who interfere in your business, influence your decisions—family, relatives, friends—and then you leave and suddenly there is no one around you to ask whether your decision to do this job or study here is right or wrong. The onus is on you and it can be quite terrifying.”
She laughed silently at this, as if remembering something and shook her head, “I am talking too much. Aren’t you bored already?” But her friend shook her head and laughed. She said, “I am loving this. You know, you’ve been here for two months and I have never seen you talking so animatedly about anything. You really miss your city, don’t you?” She nodded silently, looking at her with eyes sparkling with unshed tears. She was realizing though, that her rant was actually making her feel better. She hadn’t felt so good since coming here, to this foreign country and living amongst foreign people. But then again, it was her choice to come here, to take up this job away from her people and her city; she just didn’t realize that it would be so difficult.
Her friend was looking at her oddly. “What is it?,” she asked her.
“I have just realized something. You know, everything you spoke about—the sounds, smells, lights, people, crowds, everything—it’s all here,” her friend said. “Here?” she asked, incredulous, “What do you mean, here?”
“I mean that you can find all of this here too. Maybe everything’s slightly different, but it’s still here. This is still a city like any other and there are smells, and sounds, and people, and crowds, and food, and lights, and festivals too. The smells are different, you can smell the freshly fallen snow, and the leaves in autumn, you can smell the flowers blooming in spring. And it might not rain all that much here, but every season has something you can enjoy and appreciate. Well, there might not be honking cars and people pushing past each other on the roads, but the metro is just as crowded, the people are, after all, people, with similar lives, similar definitions of happiness and sadness, similar problems. And you might think that with our practise of going abroad or living away from our parents and families, they do not have much of an influence on our lives, but you’d be wrong. You know, people and places are different, sure, but they are still the same. You just have to concentrate on the similarities and accept the differences, and there you have it, a new place to call home.”
Her friend smiled at her and took a sip of her drink. She was surprised, to say the least, because she’d never thought about it like this. But then she nodded too, and smiled, and the tears remained unshed. She had an opportunity and a place to make a new beginning, to call home, and she was going to make the most of it.
About the Author:
First time writer. Works as a content editor for a living. Procrastinator.
Loves (in no particular order):
Reading,travelling, all things Harry Potter, chocolates, Sherlock, (occasionally) writing, cricket, The Avengers, music, FRIENDS, etc.
Favourite quote(one of many):
Not all those who wander are lost.
This story was written by Tanvi inspired by this prompt:
Beautiful word, isn’t it?
I love the French language!
If you like the story, comment here or on Tanvi’s blog telling her about it!
She’d love to know your feedback.
Oh! And this is Tanvi’s first attempt at writing a short story so it’s a little more special!
I, for one, am proud of her. 😀
The list of prompts was inspired by this article I happened upon, quite a few have stories written about them so stick around for the rest.
This is the first story of a part of a series of stories I’m going to post, which were written by my friends, I talk about it here.
I’ll post the next story on the 10th on January, stay tuned.
It’s one of the cutest stories I’ve read recently- you can’t not love it! 🙂