Your bags are packed – one backpack and one trolley. The books you were reading are kept inside neatly. Your laptop is duly put into its long-abandoned sleeve. You put the phone to charge to its full potential before the long journey.
So what do you do hours before leaving your home?
Do you go to the kitchen and shout at Mother for toiling away while preparing kachori, frying left-over Holi chips, packing achaar in an air-tight ghee tin, and frenziedly looking for an empty mithai ka dabba to pack the food in?
“I don’t have space for so much food,” I reason;
“What if the train is delayed! You will finish half of it on the way; your friends will eat the rest in minutes,” she counters.
Do you then hunt for the mithai-ke-dabbe-ki-rubber to seal your food with?
Or do you go to the balcony where your father is reading the newspaper and have the same conversation you have had already?
“Did you pack everything?” he asks for the hundredth time.
“Yes,” I answer him for the hundredth time.
“Did you receive the money I had sent?”
“Always be carful on journeys and otherwise too.”
Do you then go on to water the plants with him?
Or do you go to your cats on the terrace where they are sleeping comfortably in a shade but you disturb them anyway. Do you cuddle with them, give them a bath, and treat them with chicken gravy one last time before you leave so that they remember you fondly?
“Meow, mweeow, mau mau…” you mimic them.
They reply with their quaint purring.
Or do you sit in the living room, giving instructions to your parents on how to not miss you very much and assure them that you will back soon? Do you also remind to them, for the hundredth time, to take their medicines on time and go on a walk at least?
Or do you deliberately sit in a different room like on other days and not make your impending going away obvious? Sitting and staring in the void, do you wonder when you will return; if you will return? If your parents will ever be the same as they are now? If you will ever be the same?
Will the home ever be the same?
So tell me if you know, what to do hours before leaving home?
Sucheta Chaurasia has an MA in Media and Cultural Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.