Updated: Apr 11
Dhwani was excited to visit her oldest friend from college. She hadn’t seen Palak in years and looked forward to spending two weeks with her. The two had been students at the Vellore Institute together and had bonded over episodes of Californication and Indian Idol in the four years they spend as classmates and roommates.
Palak had been the best friend Dhwani had in college and they had tried to remain in touch after graduating too, but Dhwani had soon moved to Seattle for work and the different time zones meant that good morning messages were exchanged while the other turned off the lights and went to bed.
The Sun was not kind to the residents of Seattle and Dhwani missed lounging in the sunlight outside her ancestral home in India. Mumbai, her home, had always been warm and inviting to her. The weather in Seattle was less predictable. The Sun would come out for 15 minutes a day and disappear quicker than her husband did from his cardio sessions.
The two friends had reconnected on Instagram and Palak had invited Dhwani to come live with her for a week or two in Boston. Given the relatively favourable weather and her old best friend in the city, Dhwani had hopped on to the arduous 5-hour long flight quite eagerly.
Dhwani had packed a suitcase with a few clothes and her Outer Woods laptop bag too. The laptop bag carried her MacBook, in case someone from work needed her help, and also something extra for the long Boston evenings. She asked her husband while packing, “Should I carry a Rioja or a Shiraz?”
Her husband, Taylor, replied, “Rioja, definitely.”
Dhwani said, “Cool, thanks! Do you want to take the other one?”
Taylor pointed at his rust-coloured Outer Woods backpack and said, “I’m already packed. You worry about your own trip.”
Dhwani chuckled and zipped her bags shut.
The day she arrived at Palak’s was a sunny and bright day. Being around her old friend made her feel like a college girl again. She looked forward to exploring the city and talking to her friend for hours about their lives. But Palak was a bit different, Dhwani had noticed that right away. She had become a different person, it seemed. She was polite but distant and Dhwani hoped that would fade away in a few days.
But when nothing changed after their trips to the museums, the parks, the pier, and Harvard Yard by the end of the week, Dhwani began to feel like an unwelcome guest. When she brought it up with Palak, the response she got was, “It’s all okay, you are overthinking it!”
So, when Taylor texted her from Mumbai, “Reached Bombay, miss you.” Dhwani packed her bags again and hopped onto the next flight back to the place she had grown up in.
When Taylor came to pick her up at the airport, he asked, “What’s wrong? What happened?”
Dhwani said, “Nothing happened, I guess people just grow apart as they grow older.”
Taylor asked her again, “Are you sure you are okay?”
Dhwani paused for a moment and said, “Yes, I am.” She smiled at the Sun and said, “I’m home.”
Everyone she met in Bombay, old friends, family, and cousins, wanted to know why she had changed her plans to stay in Boston. The only reply Dhwani could give was, “Life is short, and I want to spend it with the people I love. Palak and I might have been close at one point, but we have grown apart now and that is okay. I’m here because I think I was looking for a home away from my home instead of my friendship with her. I think I have changed too.”
This answer satisfied some and intrigued others. But Dhwani didn’t care. After a hearty lunch of Pav-Bhaji cooked by her cousin, she pulled out the bottle of Rioja from her laptop bag in the evening and said, “Anyone up for a drink?”
“Absolutely. But where did you get that bag? Is it from Seattle?” Her cousin asked.
Taylor replied with a wink, “The only thing from Seattle is the husband. The bag is from India. We’ll send you the link.”
“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one thing that is going to require the most from you.” - Caroline Myss
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