It was the 29th of July 2010. My mother had packed some delicious snacks in the red jhola, that was accustomed to being stained with seeping oil from my mom’s handmade kachoris, pakodas, chips, achaar that she packed every time I left for college.
This time, the bag was heavy with special methi mathri and green chilli pickle that I would gorge on as soon as I sit on my usual Kanpur to Delhi Gorakhdham Express at 11:30 pm. This would be my dinner for tonight…and for many nights to follow.
It would last for a month, I guess. I hope.
The hostel food is nothing compared to what my mom cooks. So, I often resort to boiled eggs or fried rice from Ganesh Bhaiya’s dhaba at the end of the road.
Life has been difficult in the hostel. I don’t smoke or drink. I don’t fit in.
Randhir made me try Rum one evening. I was convinced it will keep me warm on a December night. It didn’t help. But I surely puked twice until I curled up on my left for the whole of the night.
Ma remains a little weak on the knees but once I complete my B.Tech, I will find a job and get her knee surgery done.
Life has been difficult in the hostel. My ‘friends’ talk about further studies in Stockholm University or Uppsala University. I don’t fit in.
I call home every day and talk to my sister. We share the usual; from what we ate to how are the studies going. I hear my mother’s voice every other day. I quite feel at home this way.
However, 5 days back, I didn’t call my sister as I was anyway heading home for a short break. It was a 4-day holiday due to Diwali on a weekday. I chose to go home rather than sit around here. As I say, I don’t fit in.
Later during the night, my sister called. She must be wanting me to get her favorite Malai mithai from the shop next to my hostel.
I am too stunned to speak. My mom was rushed to the hospital after a paralytic attack from a brain stroke.
Before I could actually understand what it was and how it happened, she hung up the phone after I heard the doctor call her.
My arrival was early this time. I took a leave and rushed to my hometown but before I could reach, my mom passed away.
I wish I could soothe her, see her wave for one more time as I turn around before leaving.
My life changed in a fraction of seconds.
I came back to my hostel after 23 days, kept my red jhola under the wooden stool, and lay on the bed.
This time, I didn’t have methi mathri from mom, but just a framed picture of her that I’ll keep on the shelf next to my bed. I’ll quite feel at home this way.
Read before you go: A Letter To My Parents Who Let Me Pursue My Dreams