Leaving the Shore
Niyati Reddy felt she was leaving her world behind. Her foster parents, her sisters, her friends. And every single thing in her room that she was attached to. Old furniture and drapes made out of her grandma’s sarees; flowering plants in her balcony; toys and dolls she had treasured from childhood; wall hangings made in craft class in school; books, she had spent her childhood and teenage years with; her coffee mugs, a box of stationery, completed sketch files, an old set of shading pencils, used diaries; walls decorated with paper stars and origami arts by her sisters; trinket jewellery she had collected from several exhibitions; old worn-out clothes that her mother didn’t consider good enough to be carried to Paris by the new bride-to-be; her canvas running shoes; embroidered cotton bags and satin ribbons; first desktop computer in their home; her scooty, and so much more – her entire world.
She formed a bond with things she owned and treasured them even when they were damaged. She mended old shoes, stitched up rips in her dresses, painted scraped edges of her torn diaries, covered holes in her bags using stickers; taped and glued pieces driven apart from a favourite pen or a book, but she would never throw them away. Instead, they became an integral part of her life.
Why do I have to part with them at this stage? she winced in pain.
Vasudha dragged Niyati out of her room. It was time to go. The entire family accompanied her to drop her at the airport. Niyati tried her best to look cheerful, for she didn’t want Meera Ma to worry about her.
“May God bless you. Stay the way you are. Never change.” Meera held Niyati’s face and kissed her forehead, blessing her for a safe journey ahead. Niyati shook her head to agree and wiped the tears rolling down inadvertently.
Seventeen-year-old Srilatha chirped, “Why are you crying? I’m jealous of you, Akka. You are beginning a new life in Paris. How romantic!”
Vasudha giggled, “I hope Yash Jiju receives you at the airport with one hundred red roses and a big placard professing how much he loves you.”
“Eeeks!” Niyati frowned, with a distinct pucker between her brows.
Her sisters laughed and teased her more. “How about adding a musical band to that? People playing the violins in the background.”
Niyati raised her hands in the air, “No, please! That’s cheesy and cringe-worthy. Such a cliché.”
Srilatha winked and said, “Mark my words, Sistah! You’ll meet the man of your dreams in the most clichéd and cheesy manner.”
“Eeww!” Niyati twisted her lips again, scrunching her nose playfully, making all of them laugh together.
Vasudha nudged her, “I’m praying for you to have the most clichéd love story ever.”
“Pray for the most memorable one, instead.” Niyati smiled, balancing her bag on her shoulder.
After an emotional last hug, she moved towards the security check at the airport, leaving her foster family behind. The path beyond this point marked the beginning of her solo journey towards a new destination, new relationships, and new challenges.
She wondered why there were no security checks before every phase of life. Check-points where people could be analysed and deemed fit or unfit for the voyage ahead. Or maybe a prior warning, like a weather report, for upcoming twists and turns would have helped.
At this moment, she didn’t know what she had signed up for. And it was both unnerving and exciting. This new relationship wasn’t her choice. But what was life without an unexpected mix of some choices, some compulsions and something between the two. It doesn’t matter which direction life takes you through, as long as you are ready to roll up your sleeves and take the challenges head-on.
Niyati Reddy had taken a chance, too.
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