She said bye to her mother, sisters and brother while her father asked her to hurry up. Mother was breathlessly giving her instructions to be good to her grandfather; she was going to stay with. “Remember your every action will speak of your upbringing and us,” mom said umpteenth time. “Tinku, study well and take care,” she hugged her brother.
It was a full moon night. The tar roads, the big water tank, the TV antennas standing on every roof top were drenched in silvery moon rays. She hurried behind her father who was walking fast with the cycle and the lone suitcase tied to it. “We should reach early, remember we have to talk to K.G. Rao uncle,” he said. He was the TTE who had promised to get them a berth till Vizag. While she took long strides to meet her father, she turned back one last time at the end of the street. She saw the silhouettes of her mother and her frail sister who was waving at her excitedly. She felt empty and confused, not sure if she was doing the right thing by deciding to complete her higher secondary in Vizag. She was too young to understand what it was like to leave a sanctuary and be on her own.
As she passed the familiar sites, she thought of the 7-day long Goddess Bhagwathi festival every year; the school annual function and sports day; the evening chit-chats with her siblings and friends and the undisputed attention from her parents. “Never mind, I am going to come here on every vacation.” Lost in her thought, she didn’t notice Bappi, her neighbor. He was more of a rival than a good neighbor. Felt exhilarated whenever he made a sarcastic comment on her and siblings; probably the symptoms of a confused teenager. “Hey, are you leaving today?” he asked with a grin.
“Yes.” She replied.
“When are you coming next?” he asked.
“In Dusherra holidays” she answered and didn't wait for anymore conversation.
Unaware that with every step closer to catch the 8.30 pm Konark Express, she is leaving behind the 10 years of the most precious and carefree life, she misses even today.
Even after so many years, that moonlit night has been frozen in her mind’s eye and feels as if it was just yesterday.
That She was Me, when I left home for the first time.