Umrika!!!

1.4 billion of Indians dream of going to America. I know the current population of India is only 1.325, I am also counting the children who will be born today!! Don’t get me wrong, not all want to live there, but they definitely want to visit the U the S of the A, at some point in time in their life.

My obsession with the States began when I had someone repatriated from there join me in grade 3 at my school back in India. Jasmine, her name was. She was by far the prettiest Sikhni I had ever seen, and believe me I had seen a lot, being in a Sikh school. Her school bag, her pencil box, her stationary, even her shoes were atleast 10 years ahead of mine. Blonde hair and fair skin, but what struck me the most was her confidence. I had not known that children that age are even capable of exuberating that amount of confidence. She wouldn’t shy away even with her broken ‘Hindi’. Her English accent would bring sarcy comments to her, but that never deterred her one bit. She kept on. For a seven year old me, it became a generalised impression of all Americans, there on. And there began the desire to see this inspiringly advanced country for myself. I wanted that life where I speak English fluently and own the latest stationary. What simple motivation to go US, innocent days!!

Another prolonged and perpetual motivation throughout my childhood was my mum telling (read light-hearted complaining to) me and all others about my uniquely rebelious ways. ‘Isko to America mein paida hona chahiye tha‘, she would say, ‘Yahan India mein kaise aa gayi’, which translates to – she should have been born in America, she doesn’t belong to Indian culture. Not to blame her, as I never did fit in (and I know, in her heart, she was and is proud of me for that). I think the mandatory compliance instructions to even have a chance at being tagged a sunder-sushil-gunvati-bhagyashali-larki (most eligible girl) at the time in my part of the world were – wear salwar kameez and dupatta with no more than 2.6cms of skin showing, be an introvert, don’t talk to guys, do not laugh loudly when a boy is looking at you even if your girlfriend cracks a really funny joke, keep your eyes riveted to the ground when talking to elderly, specially males, in short, do not breathe! and have no life! I complied to none of these rules, with my lovely parents supporting my back all the time and there goes the story.

The only reason I entered the IT corporate world, years later, was because this was, at the time, a hopeful and easy pathway to reach USA. Go IT boom! I was right, the path definitely was full of opportunities and I did bump into those not once but four times in my first 5 years. Alas! I could avail none! Work permit renewals, passport renewals and ultimately the family way came in the way of my dream way! No complains though, I know everything happens at its own time.

And the time has finally come. 8 years on, from the last time I was offered a business visit to USA, I finally have decided that its about time I spend my own vacay funds to visit my dream destination. The planning has begun four months in advance. So when my bestie from Uni, who now lives there, was amazed when I shared my itinerary spreadsheet with her, which literally comprises of a low level detailed plan accurately jotting down my whereabouts at any given minute during the 4 week holiday, she asked me if I had become a freak since the last time we met, probably suffered a blow to my head which caused me some sort of compulsive disorder. I replied ‘This is US baby!! Years & years of research and love for the land, it has to be perfect, every moment utilised to satisfaction’. Hopefully, it will be!!

 

 

 

 

 

Make it work (out)

For a long time now, the cycle has been Eat, Drink, Work, Sleep, and Repeat! Its got to change now! Its a new year, afterall. No, I did not realise this 13 days later. Just that this new year day, when I had the universal urge to make a few resolutions yet again, I held back. I thought let me check back in with myself in 2 weeks time, if I am still positive about making any sort of commitment, I’ll do it then! So the time has come and I must commit, because I want to!

Those who know me well, know how much I love change. Change excites me! I love to move houses if not the country, change cars, heck! I have even made darling daughter switch schools three times already, and she’s grade 3!! For those who don’t know, I am currently in my 12th house in 13 years across 4 countries. If I am unable to change house because of whatever constraint, I make sure the place changes they way it looks & feels every few months, an expensive affair, eh! some would say, I say you just got to be creative and it all works out satisfactorily.

I am thinking, my best chance at changing my lifestyle, is by channeling my love for change from the tangibles to the more higher & wiser senses. Let’s see how I get creative here. The goals are set, timeline fixed, hopefully I can make it! Wish me luck!

Love

R

Let go!

The silence then whispered into her ears
‘Don’t let the darkness outside reach your soul so pure,
The fall only defeats you if you never rise again’
She stood up, stood tall and fearless
and walked for miles, beyond the fence
knocked on the door and saw his face
a split second flashback….
overcame all the energy rushing to scream out of her
she smiled, smiled genuinely
‘I forgive you’ She said,‘Good luck!’
as the silence of her heart smiled right back at her!

Color the damn grey hair!!

My colleague at work asked me to interview her preferred candidate for a second round, with the intention to judge if this applicant would fit in, of course all the applicants were technically sound. Now this was scheduled on a day which was super chaotic for me, travelling to various work sites, hence I got no chance to look at this person’s profile/resume.

In comes this beautiful girl, who could easily pass for a fresh graduate. The role was a senior one within the team, so in my head I had a doubt if she had the minimum required years of experience. Anyhow, the interview went quite well and she was finalised for the role. Later that day when my colleague and I got discussing on her optimum reporting line, she mentioned how the candidate may require flexibility to manage family & kids. “She wouldn’t have kids at this age, she may not even be married” I said. But my colleague recalled how this candidate may have mentioned about it subtely during the first round. I convinced her it couldn’t have been this candidate, given my poor colleague had interviewed 11 candidates in 2 days.

Last morning I had only reached my desk and hardly put my bag away when my colleague came to me and with a smile that conveyed I-was-right-but-I-am-too-equally-amazed said ” She’s 45, I checked her ID”. I was left open mouthed. And then started a discussion around my desk with the rest of the girls in our team who all had a story about knowing someone who looked decievingly younger than they factually were. We all started guessing each other’s age and I must confess, I never even came close to the decade let alone the age itself. Everyone’s so fit and gorgeous! Unfortunately for me, it was totally the opposite. Not even one person thought I looked younger than my age, infact the closest guess was 2 years older than may age. I was devastated. I look much older than I am. Ironically so, having skipped a grade in my early childhood, I was always the youngest in my class for all my student life. That meant I was the pampered one who was never taken seriously. I recall wearing zero power glasses only to prove to my classmates that I am as wise as them. I always liked to make friends with people elder to me, as they always had a lot to offer, knowledge wise; It wasn’t easy to fit in but I never gave up. As it turns out, my attempts to look older than my age really worked.

To make up for this realisation, that turned out to be a very sad one for me, I, did what any other wise girl would do, went for a hair makeover. My regular hair dresser had left the place, so I got assigned to a new stylist. This person, as they usually are trained to do, started with small talk. I was too depressed to talk about what do I do and how many years I have lived in Australia now. Seriously! I look a decade older than my age and you want to know if I miss my family in India. Poor Korean guy, I may have come across as an uptight person who wouldn’t entertain small talk at a salon. Anyhow, he stopped attempting after a few tries. A little while later, hubby dear texts me and I take my phone out. As I lock the phone after replying, my lock screen appears and my stylist nearly drops the gigantic size roller that he was about to tuck into my hair. ‘Hey, is that you in the picture?’, he asks. Annoyed that I was since morning, because of no fault of this poor guy, I replied’ Yes Yes! I have professional make up on in this picture, hence I look younger than I do in real life’. ‘What are you talking about, is that your daughter?’. I answered in affirmative. ‘I was actually going to ask you earlier that you should use your Uni card for student discount’. His innocence made me smile and my day was made!!

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

I have been thinking to write this post for a very long time now, glad it’s finally here!

Well, as many of you would know, since I never lose a chance to publicise it, that I am turning 30 very soon. I have recieved a lot of reactions to these advertisements though, and at times very contradicting as well, some are amazed that I really have been in my 20’s all these years (since I have been married for 8+ years now and I am a mother of an amazing toddler)…and then, there are some who think I am celebrating my 30th for the 5th time. Honestly, am turning 30 this September (Here I go again!).

And I am really happy that I am finally able to pen this post down before the Big Day. The last decade has been really great and much beyond my expectations, so I wanted to thank God, my family, my teachers and my friends, without whom I frankly don’t know if I would have ever looked forward with such excitement to my upcoming thirties. Do I sound like a celebrity receiving an award…huh!

Well most of my checklist  for the last decade got ticked (wedding, travel, motherhood, a house to call home etc etc), in fact some of the good things that happened weren’t even on my list (moving to Australia), and some remained( Master’s, Doctorate, Teaching, Writing a book, Visiting the US of A), I guess only to be fulfilled in the next decade.

But this article is not about my wish list, its about some people, some very important people who had been or came in life in the last decade, whom I haven’t really thanked enough, in fact I don’t recall thanking them explicitly ever, simply for being what they are and for being there for me. I know calling you all or thanking you in person would have been better, but given that all of you are spread across the world, I don’t think that would have been fair (read valid) on my pocket; Jokes apart, you know how I am, I think I can express myself much better with my words here.

Embrace yourselves all, for here comes the list.. More than 30 people who have made “The journey to 30”, a fairytale for me!

Ma & Papa – You were the first people I saw when I opened my eyes to this world (Of course this is something I dont remember but have been told forever by you) Since then, you have protected me, nurtured me, fed me, educated me and every inch of me is thankful for all your sacrifices to bring me where I am today. Mamma, I still remember troubling you; Papa, I know I haven’t been the best at times, But I wish, I really do hope that one day all the values that you have inculcated in me would make you very, very proud of me.I love you both! Thank you!

Ma Papa – In Law –  I was as scared as any new bride of her future in laws when I first met you both, but your unconditional love made me comfortable instantly and I knew I had made the right choice. Mamma, you are an epitome of strength and an inspiration for me in every sense. Thank you!!

Bhupesh – Ok, I just sat there for 5 minutes after typing your name, Where should I start from, I just ran out of words when my mind starting describing your position in my life. Bhupesh, you are my soulmate.  I cant write each & every which way that you have made a difference to my life, but I can say – There are so many moments when I feel that God would really love me, for blessing me with a husband like you, who not only believes in me, but makes me believe in me and helps me become a better person every single day! Thank you!

Aahana – God loves me the most, look, He’s blessed me with you too. I couldn’t have asked for a better addition to my family than you darling. Your presence in my life has given me a sense of direction, a sense of being, an important role, the most important role I could ever achieve. I dont know if you would have anything to learn from me, But I sure learn a lot from you, every single day. How I wish I am able to make you capable enough to fulfil all your dreams! May you always have the best! Hugs, Kisses & Thank you!

Bhai & Bhabhi – My Big Bro, Manoj. There were times when I hated you, there were times when I was proud of you & there were times when I cried for you because you were going away for your first ever job. Just Like Mamma & Papa, you protected me , taught me, and took care of me. I have always trusted you and have always looked up to you for a lot of advise:). Thank fully you have not started charging me for that yet…Haha!! Love you lots! You are doing great! Oye Ravneet Bharjai, remember that first meet at IIT Delhi, We all hit it off like we had known each other forever. So proud of the first ever female in the family in medical profession. Thank you!!

Kiran & Vivek Jiju – Kiran, I had always wanted a younger sister and I found her in you. Your patience, endurance, respect for everyone always inspires to be better. Never lose your innocence. Jiju, your down to earth nature has won us all! Thank You!

Renu Sethi Bhabhi –  You have been my idol, for a very long time. I respect you and wish we could be in touch more than once a year. Thank you!

All my relatives – who came to attend my wedding, because believe me, your support was and is a Big Deal for me!! Thank you!

Shilpy – The first girl I met when I entered the lawns of a big private city school for the first time, Grade VII. Girl, you made the first 4 years of MVN awesome!! I still remember the laughs, the lunch recess (where you used to bring super delicious food and you used to love the mango chutney in my box), 3pm calls to discuss the homework….and how I adored your mamma, her jokes & stories, they were the best laughter medicines ever! Thank you!!

Nidhi Rana, Nidhi Verma ,Chitra & The Wise (as in the Y’s) – We were a gang of 8 gals, super hawt!! super awesome!! haha!! and all our nicknames ended in “Y”(Ricky, Jenny, Bunny..), hence the name “The Y’s – Wise”. I just recalled one incident when we all couldn’t stop laughing after playing some pranks on our class boys. Super spirited bets during the lectures, assignment copying, crush sharing…..haha…You girls rock!! Thank you for introducing me to the other world!

DJ & CHUMS – Deepshikha Jindal, Now Khurana, your never say die attitude was the backbone of our group . 6+1 that was CHUMS, the gorgeous girls of YMCA :). Yeps, that +1 was me. I was a late entry into the group. How I admired all of you! Shikha- aye haye your beautiful looks and the jumper goof ups; Rupal, our very own blondie; Angie – Man am still jealous of your beautiful feet; Preety – Our very own Don :); and Poojie the studious guitarist..Thank you girls..eh..now Gorgeous Ladies for the amazing 4 years! I survived Uni, only because of You!

Dikshit, Harry, Bhan – The lab group. I have learnt a lot from you guys and you stood by me, in many ways. When I was struggling for true friends in uni, I found you, right there! Thank you!!

Kavita Mam – Kavi, our first meeting was a joke on me, but it truely was a pleasure. I respect you for a self made lady that you are! Go ahead, you have the power to fulfil all your dreams and in turn you inspire many to fulfil theirs, am one of them! Thank you!

Rashmi Mam – Loads of Respect! Always! Thank you!

Muskan – Partners in Crime! Haha! Well, we’ve always helped each other out, and how can I forget your luxurious car drives to the school and college! Thank you!

Daksh Jasra – Had it not been for you, I would have never met Bhupesh! Thank you for recommending my name to his band!!

Meenakshi & Sachin Talwar –  It does happen quite often that when two people are in same situation/pickle, they tend to hit it off instantly, but what isn’t seen that often is when one of them tries to bring the other one out of it first. I found a friend in you, when I was at my lowest. You helped me rise and look beyond, to the better world. I look up to you for who you are! Thanks Meens! Pls aaja yahaaaan!! Sachin, You Rock! Thank you!

Vishobha & Ankush – What beautiful cheering smiles!! Vibhu, Our lunch dates during your pregnancy, best time ever! Thank you!

Shikha, Ritu , Savita, Laxmi –  I so loved your company when I had it. You are such joyful souls, spreading love and laughter forever, Thank you!

Chandira Aunty – Aahana’s Malaysian Naani, I love you for everything, you are no less than my mom to me. Loads of respect and love & Thank you!

My Mentors & Colleagues at the various workplaces –  Some colleagues, some friends for life, made the workplace fun and I loved going to work each day. Thank you for everything guys & gals!!

I know I might have missed out on many, But please give me the benefit of time, its 1:22am afterall, BTW I would really like to make a whole different list for people who tried to make my life hell and how I loved defeating them..haha!! Aah, what great thoughts retro’s give you!*** Feeling Great*** and BTW Did I mention I am turning 30 in a few days!!!

PS – If your name was up there, I know you are delighted that I kept my promise, pls send me my Choco Lava Cake now!

If your name wasn’t up there, but you had expected it to be – Awww!!…Send me 2 Choco Lava Cakes & better luck in my 40th Bday post!

If you don’t know me, and you still managed to go through the whole emotional drama up there, I know how tortured you’re feeling Man! Go have a drink & watch some F.R.I.E.N.D.S to cheer you up!!!

Ta!

Cheers!

~Reema~

The Greek Landlord! [Part 2 of 2]

Next morning, Aruna was woken up the familiar barbeque aroma. She checked her bedside clock, it was 9:20 on this warm sunday morning. She picked up her phone and checked Ajay’s FB page to see if he had reached his destination. There was a check-in posted by him a few minutes ago at the Melbourne International Airport. She knew he would only call once he had reached his hotel. She picked up Ajay’s evening robe, that she had kept near her all night to feel close to him, put it on and walked to open the windows for some fresh air. It was quite warm after a cold wintery rainy night. And she could see the landlord grilling meat on barbeque in his backyard. There were two more men and one lady, they all looked in their 30s and were having fun ,chatting animatedly and laughing. His mother was no where in site. Aruna loathed non vegetarian food, specially pork and beef and when her place started to smell terrible as she came out of the shower, she realised that opening the windows this morning was a big mistake. She grew nauseous and made herself a cup of hot infusion tea. Sitting on her dining sipping her cuppa, while reading the newspaper, she heard some noises from downstairs. When she made an effort to hear, she realised it was his landlord’s voice that was the most loud in the argument. The other voice was that of a lady, not of his mom though, because this lady was using some good English words as well. Perhaps it was the lady she had seen in his backyard a few minutes ago. The other two men, or his mom were not heard. With what she could get of the feud, Aruna understood it was something about this upstairs place that she had moved into. This girl was probably Nico’s girlfriend and wanted him to move upstairs with her, but he had already signed a year’s lease.

She heard the downstairs door bang then, and saw the girl leaving in her sexy two door sports BMW. Which girlfriend would anyway like to live in that mess that he has downstairs, Aruna thought upon recalling her brief view into the house from outside last morning. But why wasn’t the mommy taking care of the house below….may be she was too old to do that, Aruna put her thoughts to rest then. She got ready and then took her car keys, her grocery list, and headed downstairs, locking the main door behind her. When she drove her car out of the garage, she saw the old lady standing at the same place, looking deep into the orange orchards. Aruna dipped her car windows and waved at her, but she wasn’t looking. “Of course she would have heard my car pulling out of the drive way, how rude of her to not wave a hello, may be she judged me last night” Aruna drove away to the grocery store with yesterday’s events hovering on her mind.

Aruna stood shocked & scared on the stairway when she returned with her overflowing brown bags only to find her main door up the stairs ajar. She clearly remembered locking the door behind her when she had left. Burglaries were rare in Limassol, how could Ajay have come back to surprise her, not possible even he flew on a rocket,  The landlord had a spare key, may be he had come to fix up the missing blinds, but this was no way of barging into without resident’s permission…Aruna’s mind was coming up with all sorts of scenarios. With brave steps she entered into the house. There was no one in the lounge or kitchen or the hall way. She put down her brown bags just next to the door, and stood there trying to hear for steps or someone talking. She even picked up an expensive vase from a stand that was right next to the door, just in case. Just then she heard a lady hum a tune. It was coming from the third bedroom, that had once been the kid’s room. With the vase still strong in her hands, she came to the door of the room and was furious to find the landlord’s momma trying to arrange her grand child’s things back to where they were. What are you doing? Aruna shouted, You cant come in just like that, Hello?, putting the vase steadily on the floor of the bedroom, but the landlord’s momma didn’t pay any attention and just smiled at Aruna. Aruna was now fuming, she marched straight into the kitchen to call the landlord from the intercom. No one picked up downstairs and when Aruna reached for her mobile in her purse that was still lying around outside the door, she realised that momma landlord had left. Outraged she called the landlord on his cell phone, and he didn’t answer that as well. She dialed Ajay’s hotel number then, which he had given her when he had called a few hours ago while she was at the grocers, woke him up and blurted out “ How could she do it, Doesn’t she have any manners, I cleaned up that whole room and she messed it all up again, how dare she misuse the key, why the hell isn’t Nicos picking up my call, am gonna take that key away from her, I swear!! and while still not getting a hang of what his wife was screaming for from a few thousand miles away, Ajay said sleepily “Calm down hun, its fine, just calm down, talk to Nicos and it should be fine” He was too jet lagged to understand any of Aruna’s dialougue.

Aruna tried Nico’s number a few more times and when he didn’t answer, she thought to catch him downstairs when he returns in the night. She stood in the balcony, waiting for Nicos to return that night but he didn’t. Finally, she gave up, and left a message for him on his phone narrating the incident and the inappropriate behaviour of his mom and that she would not tolerate it if she ever does that again.

She made some Maggi Noodles for herself and then sat on her comfortable lounge to forget about it all. She had already taken off the baby’s things again into the box and rearranged the room. She turned on the TV, her favourite show “ Air Crash Investigations” was on. She loved this show and started watching intently. Today’s episode was about the Helios Airways Flight 522, that had crashed into mountains, north of Greece, whilst flying from Larnaca, Cyprus. Lack of oxygen and running out of fuel had brought about the eventual crash of this ill-fated aircraft with 121 people on board. And then what Aruna saw, swept her off her feet. In the footage shown of the family people on the Cyprus airport, trying to get one last information on their loved one’s journey, she saw the Momma Landlord crying in full pitch and the sub titles said “ My daughter, her husband and my little grandchild were on that plane, Please save them, For God’s sake they had just gone for a small vacation, How can this happen, I love my babies, Bring them back Please!”

Aruna couldn’t feel her legs, she could feel her heart beating louder than a train, She couldn’t believe she was living in a house which was inhabited by three poor innocent people who lost their lives in an unexpected time. No wonder she had been feeling eerie, and she had thought it was just the moving stress.

That was not the end, what Aruna heard next on the show was unnerving, they showed the picture of a family member of the air passengers who had killed herself failing to come to terms with losing her children all so suddenly. Aruna couldn’t believe her eyes – the picture she was watching was of the old lady, the Momma Landlord. She felt her heart sink, as the phone started to ring, She didn’t dare pick it up and it went straight to voicemail. Aruna’s vision blurred as she saw the Momma Landlords sitting right on the other end of the sofa, smiling at her….and far away in the distance she could hear Nico’s voice on her phone “What, My Mumma? Are you crazy, my mumma passed away long time ago, what’s wrong with you?”  and then the fading noises of ambulance was all she heard before she heard anything any more, nothing at all.

The Greek Landlord! [Part 1 of 2]

Well, this is my first fictional work on this blog, would genuinely appreciate feedback from the readers.

~~~~

As she saw the Limousine pull up in the driveway , Aruna called out from her balcony ”The cab is here, Hun”. Aruna and Ajay had moved into this first floor apartment just a week ago. It was there second rental place in Limassol within a year of coming to Cyprus from India. They had started looking out for another home around a month ago, when their apartment on the Ommonia Avenue had become too noisy in the summers from the late night biker stunts on the main road. They were looking for a quite location and when their estate agent had shown them this property in Zakaki, they were more than delighted to discover a gem at this price and had not taken more than an hour to sign the lease with the landlord who lived on the ground floor of this one storey house. This was the first of the four houses in this block, faced by a huge Church right opposite the road with an orange orchard next to it. It was just the perfect quiet setting and Aruna and Ajay weren’t surprised to see the amazement in their friends’ eyes when they had organised a little house warming get together the very next day of moving in.

Ajay came out of the master bedroom on the rear end of the floor with the luggage and stood in the hall way trying to mentally check the list of things that he would require for the trip. This was his first business trip after their wedding, although a little hesitant to leave Aruna all alone for a week, he was also excited for his first trip to Australia.

Passport? Aruna asked

Check! Ajay said while grabbing his cabin baggage from the sofa

Tickets & Papers?

Check!

Wallet?

Check!

They were down the stairs now and out on the drive way and while Ajay helped the cab driver put his luggage in the boot, Aruna was pulling up all her courage not to shed a tear. Ajay hugged her “You are strong girl and its only a matter of a week, Anyway, you have to clear up a lot of things from above and given that cleaning up is above all world for you, seven days would go by really easy”, Aruna smiled and gave him a good luck kiss. Off went the cab. Aruna stood in the drive way and stared at the Limousine until it was out of her sight. Then came a tear as she turned back and looked up, took a deep breath and started walking towards the stairs.  Just then, she saw an old lady standing behind the glass door of her landlords house on the ground floor. She was medium height, probably in her early 60s and looked Greek. She had small, unmade hair and a round face that looked sad. If one looked closely at her dress, sleepers and face, they would know that she hadn’t been out in months. Aruna gave her a smile, guessing that it might be Momma landlord. A smile was returned and Aruna kept walking towards the stairs not wanting to pile on with her overflowing emotional burst on anyone that she was meeting for the first time.

As she reached upstairs, locked the door behind her, she knew seven days were simply nothing looking at the mess and the amount of things she had to clear up in order to settle her stuff in to this place. The landlord had said that this house belonged to his sister, brother in law and their two year old kid, who had to move to Greece recently due to some important business issues. What had seemed strange to Aruna and Ajay was that why hadn’t they bothered to move their stuff along with them. May be the furniture was too big a liability, but what about the kids toys and crib. The house was in full working condition and the only thing that Aruna and Ajay had moved in with was their clothes, which were just too many, their big screen TV, too many books, too many gadgets that Ajay was fond of and a few items that are a must for and only found in an Indian kitchen. Everything else that would be required to settle in was already there, from furniture to white goods, even smaller accessories like fridge magnets. And it was all of the best quality available. Aruna and Ajay had thought they had hit a jackpot to have got this beautiful and luxurious apartment on such a reasonable rent. It was even close to work for both of them. It was all they had ever wanted.

Aruna started cleaning up. She had to pack up all the stuff that they didn’t need, like the kids toys, crib, DVDs in the rack since they were in Greek etc and drop it in landlord’s driveway, as he had asked. The landlord, Nikos, appeared to be quite nice when they were signing the lease. He had also asked them to let him know if they needed something to be fixed in this house and that he would be happy to help them settle in. He had sent a cleaning lady on the day they had moved in. But Aruna and Ajay hadn’t quite seen him after that day. They only saw his mini truck parked in his driveway a few nights ago and had long gone when they came out in the morning to go to work. His house was all glass from the front and as one could see inside in the day time, not very well kept. Apart from a big home theatre system, standing out somewhere in between the numerous piles of clothes and rubbish here and there, one could tell he was not married and that no lady took care of this house. In the evenings, the light was never on, perhaps he stayed more towards the rear side of the house, Aruna and Ajay had thought. Of one week that they had stayed in the house, Aruna and Ajay hadn’t heard anything ever from the house down the stairs. But while packing up today, Aruna was wondering what did the old lady do all day in that silent house. She remembered that she had to remind the landlord for a missing blind on the right window of the second bedroom. She could have called the landlord on his cell phone, but then, her social self made her decide to go downstairs herself, and have a word or two with the landlord’s mom. She anyway had to go to drop off the box of useless things.

She rung the doorbell and put down the box to the side of the door. No one answered. She rung again and again, because something in her mind said that it cant be that the old lady had gone away, this morning when she had seen her, she didn’t look like an outgoing type person. She looked more of a stay at home mum.  A thought came to Aruna, may be she’s deaf or hears hardly, so she tried to peep in through the glass walls, but there was no one in sight that Aruna could sign signal to open the door. She might be in the washroom, Aruna thought and left the box there thinking to come back sometime later.

When she reached upstairs again, in a few minutes she got so involved in opening her suitcases and boxes and putting everything at the right place, she didn’t even realise that it was evening already and that she hadn’t had her lunch yet. By the time she sat on the couch in the living room with her big bowl of maggi noodles, it had started raining heavily. The asbestos sheet on the roof of the mezzanine floor had been creating enough noise from the rain drops to give her a headache. Thanks to her undisturbed concentration, her house was now all set, all their dresses hanging nicely in the closets, all things placed at the expected places and the house was sparkling clean. Proud of her work, she took a deep sigh and turned on the TV, turned in the DVD of her favourite music and stepped back to sit on her couch again when she saw the old lady standing outside her glass door. Aruna smiled and welcomed her in, saying Hello. The old lady nodded and Aruna directed her to have a seat. Aruna asked if she would like a coffee in this cold weather, but the lady replied in No with a gesture, Probably she was not very good at English, Aruna thought. The lady then said something in Greek, in a slow tone, which Aruna tried her best to understand with what little knowledge of the language she had. Probably she was saying thanks for returning her grand child’s things in a box this morning, Aruna guessed and smiled. And then just as Aruna was trying to start a conversation with the easiest English words, The old lady started saying things quite rapidly in Greek and Aruna lost complete track of the words. The old lady, by the time had finished her animated speech in Greek, had tears in her eyes. Not sure as to how to react to this unexpected outburst by this unknown lady, Aruna stood up to sit near to the old lady to give her a comforting hand, but the old lady stood up and walked to the door.

As the old lady went downstairs, Aruna stood near her sofa, staring at her now cold maggi noodles, thinking about what just happened, did she behave properly or should she have been more comforting, why was the old lady so sad, what did she actually say or what was she trying to say…Just then her phone rang, It was Ajay from transit in Dubai and while talking to him, Aruna completely forgot about her encounter with the strange old lady. She prepared a fresh hot soup for herself when she hung up, had her soup in bed and didn’t even realise when she was far into her dreams.

To be continued…