I didn’t know where to start from. I stared absently at the bustling street. I was getting jostled by people running to catch up with their lives.
What do I do first! What do I do first! I asked myself fervently. I decided to find a place to stay and set up base there and travel from there everyday. I checked into a nice hotel, I figured I deserved it after what I had been through. I could afford it, as of now.
I kicked off my shoes and settled in the bed. Suddenly I felt very tired. I had travelled half way across the country without having an inclination of what I was looking for. What if I find them? What did I want to say to them? What if they were no more? Would I not want to go back?
I looked at the phone next to the bed and for a minute the temptation to call home was almost irresistible. I picked up the receiver and dropped it back almost immediately. I didn’t know why it was important for me to maintain this emotional disconnect, but I knew if I called home often, I would take the next ride home. My mum would convince me. She always could.
As a kid, when I used to get hurt, she used to tell me stories of fairies and pixies as she bandaged the wound. I used to get so distracted by the magical world that she was building, I never even noticed the zing that dettol caused. I was about to call it a day, when my phone rang. It was my sister, Prachi. I didn’t want to answer it. As much as we loved each other, there were times when she used to belittle me, my plans or my ideas. Sometimes, I thought it was some twisted way of showing me that she cared, by telling me things, no one would tell me. Things I didn’t want to hear. I used to fight bitterly with her. After all, nobody liked to see or admit to loopholes in their perfect ideas. But as luck would have it, she was right most of the times, and she never said “I told you so.”
I ignored the first couple of calls, but I knew Prachi was persistent. She would know that I was deliberately not responding to her calls. Eventually, I received her call.
“Are you crazy???” No greetings, just a indication of what direction this call was going to take. With her telling me what a fool I was for doing this.
“What do you want?” I was already demotivated. I had never realized that the task of hunting down two people could be so daunting. The movies, always made it seem so easy.
“Why aren’t you answering your calls? Are you going to forget that I’m your sister?” I had to smile, this is who she was. My sister, to the point, no dilly dallying.
“I was busy.” I was lying, I knew she knew that I was lying, but I did it anyway.
“Liar! Okay, where are you right now? Wait, let me get a notepad or something.” I wondered what was going through her head. She could be rash, impulsive and just plain crazy.
“Okay.. go ahead.” I rattled off the address of the hotel I was staying in.
“So..” she started. I could hear her typing something in the background. “I have just booked my tickets and I should be there by end of tomorrow.”
I was so stunned, that for a minute I didn’t know what to say.
“Ira.. Are you there?” Prachi’s voice shook me out of my shock.
“Prachi, you don’t have to. This is my search and I want to do it alone.” I didn’t know if I wanted her to be here. I was suddenly suspicious. What was her plan? Did she really want to help? Or was she just coming to brainwash me.
“Oh..” I could sense the disappointment in her voice. And then she continued, “I don’t care Ira, I’m coming whether you like it or not. I’ll stay in the hotel room while you go on your wild goose chase, if you don’t want me to help you, but I’m coming. Nothing’s going to change that.”
I flared up, “Why! Why do you do this every time! Why do you have to take everything that is important to me and trivialize it?!”
There was no reaction from the other side. After the long pregnant pause, I heard my sister talk.
“Ira, I think what you are doing is fantastic. And I know, its important for you to find out. Maybe I’ll never understand why you need to look for another family, when you already have a pretty great one around. But I know you want to or maybe you have to. And I was just trying to joke around. Since when did you start taking me so seriously?”
It was as close to an apology that one could get from Prachi.
“Its just..” I said sullenly, “It’s just a touchy topic for me.”
“So I’ll see you in a while?”
“So you think what I’m doing is right?” Despite everything I had said about her, I still needed her reassurance to have the faith that I could do what I had set out to do.
“Sure, I would’ve have done the same thing, had I been in your place. Except..” she paused.
“Except what?” I prepared my self for the barrage of loopholes that she was going to point out.
“I wouldn’t have been so dramatic about it!” She said, “Oh my god! I’m adopted, I need to find out who my real parents are! I have to go right now!” She said mimicking me.
I had to laugh. As we hung up, I realized that I wasn’t quite right when I had said that I didn’t share any similar mannerisms with my family members.
Like my sister I too was rash, impulsive and just plain crazy. And somehow, that thought was comforting.