It was the week that trumped all of her other bad weeks: she’d lost her phone, her friends were dealing with their own issues, and all of her course work that had been due a week back remained incomplete Living away from home had always been fun, but not this week. This week, the university campus seemed to be filled with booby traps and dead ends. It was filled with people but there was no one, really.
The last straw was when her teammate for one of her assignments had requested her to stay back to work on a Saturday.
“But I’m going home!” she exclaimed, indignant. “I was planning to take the bus home this weekend. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been home.”
“Just one day,” her teammate pleaded. “Please?”
Of course she couldn’t say no. She had every other assignment due already. How could she slack off on this as well? She had to stay. She had to stay and pore over references books that blurred over into one fat burden. She had to.
So she stayed Saturday and halfheartedly helped her teammate format the citations for the last part of their assignment. The minute she was done, she knew she had to catch the bus home the next day- however late it was.
“You’re out of your mind,” her friend said. “It’s a three hour journey. You’re saying that you’re gonna leave Sunday, reach Sunday evening, and get back to college Monday morning? That’s madness. It’ll tire you out.”
“I know what I’m doing,” she said, her voice beginning to break. “I need to go home. I need to.”
The next day, she packed her bags and took the bus home. One of her other friends had tried to talk her out of it, but had realised how futile it was when she remained resolute. The journey was long and irritating, especially when she realised she didn’t have a phone to listen to music. She borrowed the phone of the lady sitting next to her and informed her parents that she was on her way.
And yet, by the time she reached her parents looked worried.
“What took you so long?” they asked. “We called all your friends to check on you! You’re fifteen minutes late!”
“I’m FIFTEEN minutes late and you call everyone I know? Why? Why would you embarrass me like that?” she burst out. There were tears in her eyes, and she was on the verge of a breakdown. She’d waited all week to fall apart; she couldn’t stop the unraveling.
And that was when she saw the look in her parents’ eyes; the way their eyes softened but remained alert. It was like they knew what she’d been through without really knowing. It was like they understood, when no one else, even her closest friends had.
“Food’s ready though,” her mother said softly. “Go eat. You look tired.”
She followed her parents to the dining table and felt like a child. As she tasted the first mouthful of chappathi dipped in dal, it was an unveiling by itself. She couldn’t- couldn’t- hold on to the mindless rage and chaotic anxiety anymore. Her mother’s fluffy chappatis and carefully made dal melted her heart, and temporarily cured her of everything. Suddenly, there was promise, that even if things wouldn’t get better- these two wonderful people were there. That was all that mattered. That would take her forward.