Everyone who has stayed away from home for a considerable period of time fear 'receiving that dreaded call' as a friend once said. That one call that could paralyse and orphan you without a thought. I got mine on the 11th of September 2006. After a lazy weekend, I had resolved to start the week in earnest but was awakened by the incessant calls on my phone at 7 am. I was asked to rush home immediately. Something had happened to mom that Monday morning.
Without second thoughts I dashed to catch the earliest flight home. From the airport I dialled all relevant numbers... none were forthcoming. All I was told was that something had happened, I found my ears shutting to the rent of wails in the background. Yet, no one confirmed the news. Perhaps they thought I wouldn't make it through the three-hour long flight and a further three-hour drive to my summer house in Shillong. Finally, while still at the airport waiting for security check-in, I managed to get through to a relative who broke the news... my mom was no more. .. the words didnt dawn on me, after all this day couldn't come so soon in my life.
I was numb for a while, then shaking nervously kept staring at my cell phone for one voice that would say this was not all true, that this was all one bad dream and that someone was playing the most horrible of pranks on me. A three-hour journey seemed like eternity.
Landing at Guwahati airport, the restlessness was even greater. The unusual quietness of my driver, the pouring rains all the way home -- I thought even nature had a way of communing things sometimes -- and I felt a sudden exhaustion.
Finally as I approached the hillock up to my house, I saw cars lined up, people swarming the area. I developed an instant loath to such a sight as it confirmed my worst fears. All eyes were on me as I got off the car while I searched for my brother, my pillar of strength, only to find he too had crumbled in the uttermost of pain. Then my eyes went to the white sheet in the courtyard, that very symbol and finality in Hindu custom when you bid goodbye to the dead. I fell on to my mother, hugged her, held her cold face next to mine and asked God if I could have her for just one more day.