I was sitting in the A/C chair car coach of the intercity express. Beside me was a huge man who was snoring all his way to la-la land. My head was down and my eyes stared into the blur. My cheeks rested in my palms; I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. “Will I ever come back?” I asked myself. My mind went blank.
“Curd rice, lemon rice, cutlet, vada...” the waiter went on in loop. “Tina, what will you have for lunch?” Pa called out to me. I looked at him and just stared, not knowing what to say. I didn’t know if I was hungry.
“Should I get you some curd rice? I know you like curd rice, don’t you?” Pa knew I was shaken by the sudden change that was taking place in our lives. Melancholy enveloped my face. He came up to me and said, “This is part of life, Tina, and nobody wanted this more than you did, right?”
“I didn’t know my wish would be granted so suddenly. I don’t want this change right now,” I said, as I broke my silence for the first time in the train; tears cascading down my cheeks.
“It’s alright, my little one! We all must learn to move on. Be thankful for all that you’ve had; your friends, your school, your teachers, your home... and all the beautiful memories attached to them! It’s not easy, I know, but you can always come back to visit the place and your loved ones whenever you want.” Saying this, Pa smiled at me. This was exactly what I wanted to hear. “Really? Promise, pa? You will let me come back, no?” Some excitement clearly returning to my voice.
The not-so-good curd rice now started to taste delicious. The very prospect of visiting Salem again in future made me feel happy. Pa’s assurance was comforting.
“I maybe leaving the city for good right now, but I shall return someday really soon.”