I stood there watching Vishal drive away. Waste of an afternoon? I hadn’t found my parents house, I hadn’t even come close to the locality but I wouldn’t call it a waste of an afternoon. Somehow, Vishal had left a mark in my mind. I vowed to see him again before I left.
I had nothing else to do but wait for Prachi. It got really dark around six, up in the mountains. I pushed the curtains aside and watched the little city starting to sparkle with lights. As the darkness took over, the stars and the lights intermingled and I couldn’t tell where the mountains ended and where the stars took over.
I woke up suddenly, I had fallen asleep, curled up near the window. I yawned and looked at my watch. It was nine already. Prachi should have been here by now. Panic took over as I searched for my cellphone. As I dialed her number, the knob on the door turned and in walked my sister.
“God! Of all the places, your parents could originally be from, they had to be from here!! No direct flights, no direct trains! Even the buses are not direct!!” She scowled at me as she walked in. She dumped her luggage in one corner and let a huge breath out.
As I heard her ranting and raving about how difficult it was for her to get here, I realized how glad I was that she came. Within the two minutes that she had been here, she had removed the stress that was building all around me and replaced it with humor.
I walked over, as she unpacked, and put my arms around her and squeezed her tight.
“Get off me!” She said, but made no attempt to try and make me move.
“Thank you for coming..” I whispered in her ear.
She merely grunted, but I knew she was pleased.
“So what are you going to do Ira? How do you plan to start? I mean, even in a small city like this, its going to be difficult to find them. We don’t even have a name.” Prachi clearly, like me, had had a lot of time to think about it.
“I’m working on it.” I offered lamely.
Prachi dropped the clothes she was unpacking from the bag and turned to stare at me in disbelief.
“Are you telling me, that you have NO idea?” She asked incredulously.
“I told you that over the phone call, that I have NO idea.” I went on the defensive. I didn’t ask her to come. She had no right to come here and make me feel stupid or ridicule me.
“How could you Ira?! I thought you had this whole thing figured out! How do you know we are not on a wild goose chase here? Maybe they never really lived her. Maybe they gave a fake address! Then what are you going to?” She challenged.
I looked away. I had no answers for her questions. I had asked myself the same questions while coming here. And somehow, despite not knowing answers to any of the questions, I knew I had to try.
“I’ll think of something. Is this why you’ve come here? To de-motivate me?” I questioned her.
“Ira!” My sister was clearly exasperated. “You quit your job to come here. I thought you had a plan!”
“I don’t.” I shrugged. It didn’t bother me, right now that I didn’t have a plan. Whatever I was doing felt right. “You can go back, anytime you want.” I continued.
She bit her lip, I knew she was making up her mind. Finally, she glared at me. “Well, I guess you haven’t left me with much choice.” She started zipping her bag up.
I nodded. Even though, I knew, that her staying, would serve no purpose, I was disappointed to hear her decision.
“I’m going to take the bed near the window though.” Prachi said, as she dragged her bag to the other side of the room.
“You’re not leaving???” I asked, shocked.
“Look at yourself Ira, you don’t have any idea why you’ve come here, what you’re looking for, how you’re going to find it and where you’re going to start. You’re like a little lost puppy. Somebody has to be here to give you some direction..” A smile had crept on her face. “Now, come here, I have some ideas.”
It was contagious. A smile made its way on to my face too.
As I settled on her bed and watched her pull out her laptop, I realized that it was her way of showing that she loved me and nothing had to change between us.. Sometimes, that kind of love, which remains unspoken, is the kind that you should treasure the most..