I can also feel the difference in the air when I am in my hometown. I never want to come back to work.
She tells this whenever she returns from home after her vacation.
I and Riya live in Mumbai for the past 5 years working in the software company and my college mate celebrating 10 years of togetherness.
There is always something that is native. She used to count the days from the day she books her tickets for her vacation, after returning she never talk or eat properly for 2 3 days. She used to bring loads of sweets, snacks and many more from her home.
As usual, I was teasing and smiling at her when she was mourning about the work, the traffic in Mumbai, PG food comparing to her hometown.
You will laugh, any way you are going to shift to your new home, and I will be left all alone, no one will be there to hear all my things.
Who told you to stay alone; I am still begging you to come home and stay with me? Even my sister and her in-laws are telling you to stay with me, I added.
Unfortunately, I never that had luck, what it feels to go to hometown, I never felt the difference between the Paying guest rooms and the Home. At the age of 9, I lost my parents in a flight crush, me and my sister Jhanvi were left alone after that. Few years at grandparents’ home, a few years at uncle’s and aunt’s home, somewhere in the middle we lost that true love to get from them.
After sister’s graduation, she worked for a year and got married. There was no option left as uncle and aunty pushed her for the marriage as they want to take care of my studies as well. In my 2nd year of college, she got married. I still remember the day before marriage, the way she hugged me tightly and cried that she is leaving me, she advised me to adjust and stay in my aunt’s home. Also, she wants to continue her job and asked my promise that I will study properly and go for a great job so that I will stand on my own, get married whenever I feel and the liberty to choose one.
Luckily, Jhanvi’s husband is genuine and takes care of her as she desired. After 2 years, she was blessed with a baby girl. After her baby goes to school, she can search for a job and go for what she wanted. Her in-laws are so sweet, they gave her all the love she lost from her young age. Still, I never feel like going to her home and stay with her. When work calls me, I would go and stay at my sister’s home and enjoy myself with my Kid, but I had never felt that so-called “native” in that place.
Jeni, she is so naughty, correcting the sentence; I made her naughty. She is 3 years old now, and the meaning to myself and my sister’s life is her. We felt the smell of our mother in her, the way she looks, her eyes, she is my tiny mother. Though I will not spend time often, I call her every day and speak to her and never cared if she understands or not. Maybe that made us so close or it’s my mother who wants to be with me. She is even close with my friend Riya as Riya talks to her on the phone every day too.
ME and RIYA
Riya, she looks very thin, on the first day of college she sat near me, wore a pink color t-shirt and grey shaded jeans with matching earrings, who looked simple.
Hello, I am Maya, I began.
From sharing our lunch and traveling on the same college bus, our friendship became stronger and I call them the best days of my life.
Most of our thoughts were comparable, from watching our favorite series and having the same boy as a crush.
I still wonder how did the years passed so soon, and the final year came?
Every day in the college we could see the notice board with a company name for a placement. We were sincerely preparing for placements; I still remember the word I had with Jhanvi. On the corner of my heart, I always wanted us to get placed in the same company. I never want to leave Riya and go, I never want to leave her alone.
We didn’t get the same company, but fortunately, we got the same location.
After the placements, we still had one more semester.
We both and along with us Priya, Jhanki, Ajay, and Harish, enjoyed the last few months of our college happily. We used to play the games, hang out, watch movies inside the class filled with so much fun.
It was my last day today in this beautiful place, I still remember the last day, the last dot I kept in my exam paper. It was the life of enjoyment, happiness filled every day, fewer responsibilities that have come to an end. Tears rolled down my eyes when we hugged each other and bid bye, friends forever and many more words.
I felt better as Riya will be accompanying me when we join our companies and Ajay also belongs to the same location.
It was the city that welcomed us with infinite love and happiness.
The utmost happiness was me and Riya got the joining letter on the same day. We both together reached Mumbai. We went through all the streets and searched for a good PG’s. We saw around 7 and finalized a good PG in the 4th cross street, Nomura, near Kensington SEZ A-Wing. The room was on the 2nd floor, it was a 2-sharing room. A normal PG that hold 2 beds and wardrobes, a TV that is 32 Inch, and I could see the scribbling’s over the wall by old roommates who had vacated.
We entered the room carrying the trolley and many more pieces of stuff waiting down. The boy at the reception helped to bring the remaining stuff.
The whole day we slept due to tired of travel and searching the PG. It was 8 PM, me and Riya went to dinner. It was chapati and brinjal curry, which was seeming yummy, but it didn't taste so.
After our dinner, we were so excited for the next day as we are stepping into a new life, new dreams and standing on our own. That was always a special feel for many who are earning on their own, no matter how much amount they earn.
I wanted to gift something for Jhanvi and Jeni from my first salary, following I should get a diamond ring for myself, succeeding I always wanted to buy a flat and feel what home is, my longtime dream forever.
The dreams that filled my bedtime.
The sun rays passed through my window and I got up early as I was very excited. Riya was sleeping, I waked her up after my shower.
We both got ready, we had our breakfast and got into a cab, we went to our own offices then.
The first day was normal, filling up so many forms and introducing ourselves to the team. The work would start after the KT is done. The team was quite okay, as the days pass it will be fun, I guessed.
After a long day, I returned to PG. Riya came after half an hour and we both discussed our days.
A month later, we got our first-month salary. Seeing a message on the phone, I waked up Riya and asked her to check up. We both hugged each other and shouted in excitement.
The next weekend was filled with shopping over the streets of Mumbai. I got a saree for my sister and toys for my baby.
*Earning by ourselves and gifting something to our loved ones was one of the best feels in the world*
Riya bought a saree and a shirt for her parents.
We had our pooja holidays, Riya went to her home.
I felt very lonely and was all alone at my PG.
Ajay called me, said he came to Mumbai and his joining is after the pooja holidays. We planned to meet, I got ready wearing my favorite salwar the green shaded one with the little effort to look beautiful.
We both went for lunch, he asked me why I was looking dull. I told him about Riya went home and felt lonely. He held my hands and convinced me. And he reminded me about getting a diamond ring which was one of my dreams. I got excited and shook my head in happiness. After our lunch we went for a jewelry shop and saw around 10-15 rings, eventually, we both decided on one ring.
At the paying counter, he opened his purse, it’s my dream to get it on my own and gave my own money.
Looking at the ring, it was so beautiful and a drop of tear from my eyes fell on the stone.
*The happy tears*
Later we went to the courier shop and sent my gifts to my sister’s home.
3 days passed by which I felt like 3 seconds when he was with me.
Riya returned and I showed her my ring.
You could have selected when I was with you, I would have chosen a good one, she told. It hurt very badly, and I don't talk back.
Days passed by, slowly I started saving some amount to buy my own home.
In these 5 years, I shifted 2 companies which helped me to get more hike and had enough to buy a new home with the pending amount a loan.
My sister’s family turned up for a week and helped me in selecting the houses.
Finally, I saw a home which felt it will be mine. We spoke to the guy who was helping to find it and asked to finalize the rate with the owner. The rate was as expected, and we finalized the home.
When we told the news to Riya, Oh! From now, Madam will have coffee sitting in the balcony on the 9th floor, she teased. Everyone laughed, but I felt she would hug me and congratulate on the big thing I did.
Jhanvi and Ajay told Riya to stay with me as well, but she ignored it.
Jhanvi hugged me when she was leaving for her hometown and turn back for my housewarming function. I got goosebumps when she told that.
That night, I couldn’t sleep due to the excitement. So, all my dreams fulfilled, next would be my marriage, a partner to live with love. I thought about Ajay, we both love each but hasn’t expressed. Maybe he is waiting for all my dreams to fulfill, let him come and tell if he wishes to travel his life with me.
Riya went home for a vacation. I was busy packing all my stuff to shift to my own HOME.
****Yessssssssssss, it is MY Home*******
Today, longtime dream, the function
My sister’s family turned up before 2 days and helped me in arranging things for the function. I got a new dress for Riya too. Ajay accompanied my sister’s husband to help to discover all the shops for the Poojas.
I invited a few of my friends, and sister’s relatives came for the function in the morning.
The Iyer kept the pooja around 5:30 AM and told us he will arrive at sharp 5 AM.
The evening before the function, I had so many people around me. I had my Jeni baby, my sister who is always praying for my happiness and dream, my sister’s husband and his parents. We all sat together and had our dinner hoping everything should happen in a good way tomorrow. Ajay looked at me and smiled. Riya didn't turn up for the night as she had few works at her office. We all slept soon as the function is at 5 AM.
Finally, the day came!!!
All the pooja things were in the Hall. We all dressed grandly, and our smiles echoed in my new home.
I called Riya, shouted why she isn’t still here. I will arrive in 5mins, she added.
Jeni was resting still; I kissed her and caressed her hair.
Riya came and hugged me, my sister and her family welcomed Riya.
Hey Riya, got a new handbag, Nice, I complimented her. She went to see Jeni who was sleeping in the bedroom.
It was 4:45 AM, we called the Iyer to check if he is ready. He asked us to come and pick up in 5mins so that he will be ready.
Jiju went outside to take the car for picking up the Iyer. Jiju came upstairs and he was looking confused and I went to check what was the issue.
Riya was on the road walking towards our home and told her she is going to PG to change her dress as it was torn out. I didn't care as my jiju’s car was missing. We were shaken where the car would be as it was parked in the basement. The watchman was not available as he will go home after his night shift. The other guy will come around 6 AM only.
Soon, my sister, her family gathered, and her mother-in-law started crying. We all booked a cab and went to the police station. I told Ajay to take care of Jeni if she wakes up, I am sure she will cry if we are not there but please managed, I added.
We gave a complaint to the police and gave the details of the car, the color, number, and all the details.
I called Ajay to ensure Jeni had waked up. It was not a normal thing, it was already 8 AM and Jeni dint wakes up. Her daily wakeup routine is 7 AM, it’s just an hour late and I convinced myself.
We all returned home, and it was 10 AM. To my surprise, Jeni was still sleeping. We all tried waking her up, but her body was so hot and assumed she had a fever. Now, my sister started crying and already I am so tired of all the happenings.
We went to the hospital and explained Jeni to the doctor. The doctor examined her and told Jeni should be in observation for 2 days. The doctor told she drank too much sleep drops. Sister and I were shocked hearing this and in a confused state nowhere in-home sleep drop exists.
After 2 days of observation, Jeni was better and can be discharged. I took her tiny hand, seeing those injections my heart broke into pieces. We returned home after 2 days, with no proper sleep and food, tired and unhealthy. Sister went to her bedroom and made Jeni sleep. Everyone went to their beds and rested.
I called to my Team lead and opted for 1 week of leave. I am not tired, but tired at heart. Ajay hugged me and very much concerned about all the bad things. He gave me hope everything will be passed. I saw all the Pooja items in the hall had spoiled like my heart. I looked at him and hugged again.
A new number on my phone rang, I took the call and said Hello, Maya here.
Hey, Maya. We found your car. It was just 10kms from your home, but it is crushed, and the seats were torn. We are still searching who did this and we will inform you soon. I asked him, Can I See the car now?
Sure Maya, come to the station and you can see the car.
I and Ajay went to see the car. *It was crushed like the Jeni used to crush her old toy*
I opened the car and closed. Sat down on the road near the car and cried. Ajay helped me to get up and he convinced me everything will be fine. Again, I opened the car and like caressing Jeni’s hair, I touched the seats through my hand. I found some torn cloth which I have seen somewhere and a few stones which might have fallen from the chunni.
I told Ajay; I need to see Riya. He took me to our PG.
I went inside our room and she was sitting on her bed crying. I slapped her till my hands were tired and Ajay controlled me, unaware why I was beating her.
Riya, why did you do this?? I ranted
Maya, what did she do, why are you beating her? asked Ajay.
Ajay sees this cloth. It was Riya’s dress which I had gifted her for the function. All the stones were from her chunni, she did this Ajay, the one who is with me for more than 10years, the one who calls as my family did this, I am sure when she was tearing the car seat she had the knife that tore her dress as well. She got sleep drops in her handbag, as soon she went to see Jeni, she gave it to her. She took the car key and took somewhere where no one can see and crushed, did everything to spoil my function.
Ajay was shocked and asked Riya, was it true what I am explaining?
Riya kept silent and Ajay slapped her.
So, all these days you were just jealous right, Riya? You were not my friend, a fake friend who is jealous of everything. Jealous of me when getting the good marks, when achieving my dreams.
Where did this Jealous come? I shouted.
I was already tired and things around me started to blur, I fainted.
Maya, wake up, wake up, Ajay shook me, but my eyes closed.
A month later
I and Jeni were lying in the bed.
Didi, this home is beautiful, I can ride my bicycle inside the home itself, it is a very big Didi.
Jeni, you like your didi so much?
Yes didi, veryyyyy much she opened her hands and smiled.
If I tell something, you should listen. Will you?
After you are going to school you will have a lot of friends.
Is it didi?
Yes, if your friend is wearing a good dress, go and tell her it’s very nice.
If your friend scores high marks than you, appreciate her.
If your friend has a big home, start dreaming and realize what you can.
I saw Jeni sleeping. Be happy with what you have. Never know what does Jealous means. Because, it starts from there and ends somewhere, in the middle, you cannot stop about being jealous, it’s an addiction.
I went to the other room; I saw sister and jiju were napping peacefully. I kissed my sister thanking her for staying here with me for more than a month. Finally, I felt what home is and how real care feels.
I came back to my room where Jeni is sleeping, kissed my baby and lied near to her.
I closed my eyes.
Riya, but why?