How I Found Myself Another Family
How I Found Myself Another Family
I watch the grey clouds lazily saunter over and through the tall peaks to settle down and call it a day, as though exhausted after a day's work on the very fields it diligently guarded against the wrath of Helios. There is a magnificent play between the faded remains of peach-tinted sunlight and the dark clouds, pregnant with raindrops that threaten to spill any moment. They seem to form a map to a destination where no human has ever set foot. The snowy peaks have finally graced my vacation with their presence- they stand proudly on the chest of my homeland and look utterly breathtaking while the sunset falls on the snow, gets reflected, and finds a way to bless my eyes with the sort of divinity for which I would trade a hundred lives.
I take a sip of the steaming hot tea, shivering at the sharp contrast of the hot liquid travelling down my throat while my exhalations form little clouds I call my own. I sway gently to pop music which plays further down in the valley - a wedding, they tell me - when I come upon an epiphany: I have forgotten how it feels to be in a solitude sans purpose, created by free will; that which is a choice to me, and not helplessness. As a face among the crowd back in the city, I am not used to gratuitous and wholesome behaviour directed at me... do not fret, dear reader, for this is not an account of my deteriorated mental health but of that which simply has started to heal it. I have never resided at a home-stay, but as I lose that status, I find myself greatly overwhelmed with varying degrees of love and respect I seem to have developed only in a couple of days, and I shall tell you all about it.
I am welcomed with helpful hands that gently carry my camera equipment away and charmingly sincere smiles that are scored on my heart immediately. The couple is in their early old age, and they are heartwarmingly kind and friendly. As I climb the stairs, I experience another first of my life- the option to choose my room, sparked from the sheer generosity of the wife who puts her hand to my cheek and says "the terrace is more even on this end; you will get a better frame of the mountains as well as the farm below" as she points to the door on the farthest left. At lunch, I discover two things. One, the food which, needless to say, is heavenly incorruptible, with every morsel ambrosial and two, the quirky sense of humour which the old man and his wife have. They seem reluctant to share it initially, perhaps afraid of such satire being unwelcome, but they soon establish us not very different from them and so, the conversations flow like wine at a party, and the laughter is hearty and infectious.
Dusk brings momos, tea, and a kind of wind that hits the bones and never the skin. Wrapped in enough clothes for two people, I wander away from the room. One of the dogs (whose presence can be felt only when they bark all night) accompanies me, trusting too easily that I am not a foe, and helps me find a small clearing in the forest for me to sit and read. He basks in the remaining heat that emanates from the grass, and I follow suit. When the ground no longer feels like home, we both dust ourselves off and head in the direction of our respective mothers. Three warm cups of tea that follow are just as relieving as what happens next. My mother has many problems, none of which make the abundantly found uneven rocky paths or climbing flights of stairs easy. It usually earns us pitiful glances, but hardly ever considerate actions. This time, the comforting hand lands on my mother's arms. "I will have your dinner sent up to the room; it is better if your mother puts less stress on herself", she tells me. No pity, no sad smiles; a simple statement accompanied with a strange conviction I feel down to my bones. A ghost of a smile appears on my lips which utter a few words in gratitude.
We invite them to chat with us during dinner, a gesture which they find surprisingly new. Another line of conversation ensues, that of family, kids, and marriage. They are stories of bygone years which all of them treasure deeply. I take on the role of a patient listener who realizes after a short while, how startlingly wide their arms are stretched to take in everything the other has to share. The talking and listening fall into an easy rhythm, like a badminton match, as they all laugh at small jokes, acknowledge (yet not comment upon) difficult times, and whisper comforts when an incident ends on a happy note. Dinner is wrapped up with side hugs and a specific dialogue directed at me- "I pray to god you find someone as radiant as you to spend your life with".
The next day is passed in the warmth of the sun and the buzzing activities. I spend a huge portion of the day talking to the wife and one of her daughter's friends, who frequently visits the couple and helps them out. She would make for a wonderful elder sister, I wonder wistfully. Imagining a life here, even in my later years, seems to surprise my grey cells as they begin creating scene after scene, drawing out snippets of a journey that can take me there. A life in these mountains, with these people, would not be easy for a city girl such as yourself, my mind counters abruptly and immediately offers a balm to the wound, but it really would be a beautiful life.
People often seem to forget the unworldly power which small gestures of kindness channelled into hospitality possess. It is healing magic on a full moon night while the entire forest sings in harmony. It binds kindness to you in ways you did not know even existed. No matter how aloof or distant one may be, however they may claim to be "dead inside" (as I occasionally do describe myself), they are bound to feel their hearts rise from the ashes and gently begin beating again, against the magically simple touch of mountains.
We have to leave the next day, and I am not sad. I have taken enough to keep my heart going as my body preps for the war raging in the daily life of the city. I meet everyone and exchange brief farewells. I go to the women and while the wife embraces me, I hear the other lady speak. As if reading my thoughts the previous day, she says, "you are just like a sister to me, and I would love if we meet again". Another thought dawns on me, besides the obvious urge to return here as soon as I can, that I have found another part of me here; a part I feared died in me a few years ago. I have chanced upon a place where I can truly belong, albeit away from those I call my peers and acquaintances, but I do not mind. A clarity passes through me like thunder, sending waves of excitement and endless possibilities. After what seems like many many years, I feel like I have a family- consisting not of blood relations, but those of shared minds and hearts, open laughter, silent and knowing glances, and a longing to breathe in the same fresh mountain air again.