Meera looked around the living room. Several years ago, it had served as the auditorium for her impromptu dance performances, set to the tune of the latest Bollywood numbers. It was in the living room that she had cut her birthday cakes, pored over Christmas gifts and spent many peaceful hours with her pastel colours. Tired out from her adventures, it was here that she had contentedly dozed off in Grandpa’s lap.
The room had changed.
It now served as the venue for family squabbles and disagreements. Her entry to the room was no longer rewarded with little hugs, chocolates and attention. She often stood by the window, unnoticed, trying to tune out the cruel repercussions of the passage of time.
The kitchen too had suffered. The ceiling was dark; the shelves cobwebbed. There was no glass of lemonade on the counter, no bowl of coconut cookies. Her Grandma cooked silently. She occasionally stared at the lemon-tree in the backyard. The view from the window was sombre; the sunlight came down in what appeared to be a monochrome, all colours of the sky stripped away in favour of a melancholic grey.
Meera walked out to the balcony and sat down on the swing. Mom usually accompanied her and the two chatted about the strange ways of the world. On Friday evenings, they would wait it out here till the Dominos’ guy arrived with their pizzas. Presently, the swing too had changed. It was dusty, creaky, and generally ill-mannered. No wonder Mom had decided to stay away.
She saw a cab in the driveway. Dad must have called for an early pick-up, though it was several hours until her flight. Meera picked up her baggage and started to walk down the stairs. As she turned around to see what she was leaving behind, she was witness to an overdose of activity. The squabbles evaporated from the living room. The kitchen shelves filled with all conceivable goodies from the local grocery store. The swing blew itself free of dust and proceeded to sing tunes from her childhood.
A lot had changed back home. But, as the cab took her farther away, she realized nothing had. In the sanctum sanctorum that her memories were, untouched by time, loss and longing, her home would always be the best place in the world.