Where My Soul Stayed
Where My Soul Stayed
The mere thought of visiting my home where I spent my formative years, for two decades, after a gap of three years, was very exciting.
The preparations for travel were started well before three months. It was a tough job to get a reserved birth in trains, in those days. There were only a few trains plied between the city of my work place and my native place, where my parents lived. The first and foremost thing for a journey was to reserve the railway tickets in advance. Luckily, I got the reservation tickets exactly three months before the travel date, after remaining in a que for long hours.
After a few days, my nephew arranged a return ticket to me. Once I got the confirmation, I wrote a letter to my parents, informing my plan to visit them. They were too happy to receive my message.
I never had a chance to meet my parents after my coming to the city. I was staying in a rented home along with my two other friends, in the city I worked. I was jobless for more than eight months and then only I got a permanent job.
I was not financially strong enough to bear the travelling and other expenses, even if I wanted to go to my native place, in between. I postponed my journey every time, whenever a call came to attend marriages or other functions of my relatives at my birth place.
Despite all odds, I started purchasing dresses for the children of my sisters and brothers, who were settled at my native place. However, parents never demanded anything specially for them, since they are matured enough to know my financial condition.
After my leave got sanctioned from higher authorities, I was very much sure of my journey and got more excited, thinking about my spending time at my home.
My office colleagues wished me a safe and happy journey on the previous day of my travel. I thanked them for their gesture. I handed over my office charge to my colleague and the key of the table. They had requested to bring some sweets specially for their family from my native place. It was the custom to bring something for the colleagues who went on vacation to their native place on return.
At last, the long-awaited travel date arrived. While going to the Railway station, I reconfirmed the journey date and departure time written on the ticket. I carried some cash with me for the expenses during the journey. Some of my friends and relatives arrived at the Railway station to see me off before the departure of the train.
I was allotted a side-seat and lower birth the coach S2. Suppliers of Tea and snacks walked to and fro in the compartment, whenever a station is reached, new vendors entered and those who exhausted their stock got down. Food was served in the coaches, at the dedicated stations, as per the orders placed.
After completion of thirty-six hours of journey in the train, I reached at my destination without any delay. I could not sleep on the second night, out of curiosity and anxiety. My father had reached at the Railway station much before the train reached, to receive me at the Railway station in the early morning. He had hired a taxi for the journey from station to my home. I felt it was a home-coming after several years. My mother and uncle were waiting for me at my home.
My uncle had come to pay a monthly visit to meet my mother and other children at our home. Luckily, I could see him on my first day of arrival. After taking bath, I had a very heavy breakfast and slept for an hour.
By the time, a few of my friends and relatives had come home, on hearing my arrival. We chatted for some time and they went back. We had lunch together after many years.
The next day my brother and his family also came from another city he worked. Both us had planned to visit our parents simultaneously. It was also decided to celebrate the birthday of his daughter at our home, which falls after two days of their coming. We celebrated the birthday with great spirits. Relatives were also invited for the feast and cake cutting ceremony.
In the evening, I went to visit the temple nearby where we used to play in the big ground available at the premises. There were no remarkable changes seen in the nearby places except some houses were modified to look different.
Then I went to visit the neighbour and family friend of our family. The two senior citizens living there were looking very weak. They were suffering from some ailments relating to old age. They had engaged a caretaker recently. Their children were working at a faroff places. These two family members were very reluctant to live with their children, as they had a vast estate to look after and maintain it. They felt that if they go with their children, there will be nobody to supervise the property and they did not want to see their property mismanaged during their life time. They had invariably made the barren land to a fertile one, with their blood and sweat. I remembered the days, when they offered me food and other eatables, whenever I used to visit them, for procuring milk and other products. They had maintained cattle for milk. They were earning an extra income from the sale of their milk and other products. They enquired me about the life at the big city. They offered me tea and biscuits.
Next day I saw my one-time friend, Suman, who was my classmate in the school. We used to go the school together, many times, when we were in Standard five. As she grew older, she moved in a group with other girls. She was married and settled in her home only.
Next day, a group of people from our family went to a movie at the city. My parents were never interested to see any movies.
After a week, I went to see other relatives who were staying at different villages. There also people were aged and there were no helpers available to look after them.
My leave was getting exhausted very fast. I purchased some chips and halwa for the office staff. I packed my luggage for the next day’s journey. I was feeling sad to leave the place and my parents. But I could not stay back, for my job was at a different city.
While saying good-bye, everybody’s facial expressions were different than the day I reached. But my returning to the city was needed for survival.
Anyway, it was a memorable experience to visit my home for the first time, after leaving the village for a job. Memories never fade, but longing to visit the birth place, persists.