It was cold. So cold. Her hands and feet were numb and her nose felt frozen. She struggled to put on her reha fighting against the chilly winter wind. Despite all this coldness on the exterior, she felt warm inside. She was back at home again after almost five months of constantly longing for these mountains, for these people, for this warm familiarity. She smiled to herself while struggling to carry the luggage. Apa rushed past her taking the luggage away from her. Gyowa shok, napshi gyapkak!
She hastened her pace and walked in small quick steps. It had always been difficult to catch up to apa’s speed since she was a kid. He used to take her to Kaza and the whole day she would struggle to follow him from the Child Development Project Office to Kangra Central Co-operative Bank to the hospital and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya on the other side of Kaza. She would get so exhausted and would be ready to wait at an unfamiliar place while her father got all the paperwork done.
Ama was waiting near the tandoor with a spark in her eyes highlighted by the fire in the tandoor. Her eyes sparkled even more and she smiled so bright after seeing her daughters. Lam la thoo majung?, ama asked genuinely. The journey had not been so tiring this time. The sisters were travelling together for the first time and the presence of company and the absence of heat had made it easier. In summers, travelling in the HRTC buses was a dreadful experience. Heated body, unkempt hair, unpleasant odor of sweaty humans, rattling noises of aged bus windows and overwhelming terrains. And how could one forget motion sickness, the most dreadful devil hovering upon her travelling spirit. Throwing out of the bus window, tears streaming through the cheeks, constantly checking to see if there are any trucks passing by, it was quite an experience! But she had gotten used to this way of living. Sometimes her butt would hurt so bad after hours of travelling in the bus that the sole wish she had was the superpower to teleport.
“Chha thung ya” Ama had four cups of tea ready in no time. The room had a pleasant smell of incense sticks. The flooring of the room had changed; it was wooden now. The walls were painted sea-green now; a beautiful colour indeed. The wall had a new calendar for the year 2019. And above her, she saw two frames that had been there for as long as she could remember. Ama looked worn out and a bit older now. Apa had lost some more of his head hair and earned wrinkles along his face. So much had changed and yet every time she came, it felt as if these new changes embraced her with unadulterated affections.
In another dimension of time and thought, Apa was sipping tea noisily while talking about the challenges of driving on a snowy road. Ama listened with red tired eyes. She was telling how she waited for their safe arrival with apprehension. Walking back and forth in the room. Attempting to reach them by call but disappointment by the dead networks. Her sister was capturing moments of the family while also gobbling down some bananas. Love, concern and warmth overflowed. The cold vanished. She felt her repressed dreams take a soar along with the smoke of the chimney. As far as the Himalayan winds could take them.