Neel stepped out from his car and pushed his glasses up, the familiar smell of sea and fish hit his nose. He could almost taste the salt in the air. The rows and rows of tiny white houses made of bricks and clay with red tiled roofs stirred in him fond childhood memories. He relished the feeling of joy that washed over him, he had finally come home.
‘Stop sighing and wipe that smile.’ His twin Mahi took out his luggage and walked into the house ‘Someone will think you have not been home in ages!’
‘It feels like that brother, it feels like I spent ten years away from this place and not just 1 year. Where else can you find luscious green Palm trees, gracing the pathway majestically, or see people wearing cotton kurtas and veshtis going about their business irrespective of the weather and circumstances.’
‘I thought you went for a business administration course and not literature.’
‘Seriously! Touch this door finely carved by grandfather, each groove carries so much history within. ‘
‘More like historical dust.’
‘He gave each room a character. Look, he has used muted colours for the living room and courtyard while upstairs he has splashed colours everywhere based on whose quarter it was. He spent millions of hours in making a home within a home for each member. Everything encompassed in the house made of teak and bricks standing tall weathering everything nature threw its way. Just like our family!’
‘Mahi? is Neel back?’ Amma called from her usual spot in the courtyard, she sat there tending to her kitchen garden. The brown pillars surrounding the courtyard still boasted of drawings that Neel and Mahi did as children.
‘Yes, someone who looks like him is back.’
‘Be nice!’ Mother admonished Mahi and turned to Neel.
‘Fish curry and rice ma!’ Neel answered her question before she could ask.
‘Don’t add any salt, I am sure we can mix our sweat in it!’ Mahi was fractious, he had not been sleeping well off-late.
Mahi walked out, leaving Neel to lap up all the attention, he needed to finish his regular chores anyways. Not everybody had the luxury of being a guest in this house, he grumbled to himself.
As expected the conversation around dinner revolved around Neel, his course and his plans. Which suited Mahi just fine, after all who would want to listen about ways to dry fish, or optimising exports. As soon as he was done, he quietly excused himself and made his way upstairs. The bedroom clock read seven in the evening, too early to retire for the night he settled down on his balcony and sat staring out to the vast expanse of sea. The colour slowly changing from a glittering blue to solid indigo with froth attached like a bit of lace. The town quietened, lulled into sleep by a symphony played by the din of air-conditioners and steady waves.
‘Peaceful isn’t it?’ Neel settled in next to him, Mahi could only nod. His thoughts million miles away. They sat in compatible silence as they had done for eternity.
Finally, Neel broke the silence, ‘You know, I missed you. I didn’t realise what I had until I went away from it. I am sorry you felt stifled while I was gone. I know how much you want out of this small town. I am back now and can take charge, now it’s your turn to grab life by its horns.’
Mahi waited for the excitement to course through him, waited for the familiar exuberance that the talk of leaving home filled him with. But strangely all he could find was harmony and content.
‘When do you want to leave?’
‘I don’t want to,’ Mahi looked surprised at himself
‘Turns out all that was missing from this life was you!’