The swift wind blowing through the window made me pull the overcoat tighter and closer around my body. I glanced outside the window of the moving vehicle, not willing to shut it down. I wanted to look at the streets, the racing view of the stores, people walking by, engrossed in my own thoughts. The mind deciphered with disinterest, the fleeting images.
"So, how does it feel to be back home?," Shashi quipped. I looked at him. He was watching me through the rear view mirror. "It feels natural chikkappa (Uncle). It's my house, I am feeling just fine." I smiled. He smiled back, "It has changed a lot. What say we stop for a cold badam milk? You haven't had proper food all through the flight journey. We can also pick up some sweets for home." I liked the offer but was apprehensive of my parents who would be waiting anxiously. After he assured that it would be quick, I readily accepted. We stopped at Mishra's Bakery. I loved their Dharwad pedas. "Let's get some of 'em." I looked at the prices and whistled. "WOW! Look at that. They sure cost dearer than when I left Bangalore or should I say Bengalooru!". We bought a few other delicacies alongwith it, gulped down the milk and Shashi went on to cough up the bucks.
"Well look at you! You have just landed back from the US of A, a Masters Graduate! Why do you worry about money, you deserve this and a lot more of treats!" he made a rather vocal observation, that made me look at him with a wide eyed, embarassingly amused look. I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks. The cashier hitherto nonchalant, instantly paused and fixed his gaze at me for a while, flashed a smile, acknowledging the words of my uncle. I reciprocated rather sheepishly and hurried towards the van. "Thanks a lot for reminding me that!," I said sharply. "Cool down! Didn't you notice how he seemed pleased with your presence in his stall?," Shashi winked at me. "What more! He didn't mind me paying him 2 Rs less than the actual price!". "Oh! What a kill Shashi.. what a kill!" I got down from the van, pulling out my luggage.
My parents were at the door, my mother with a smile on her face. "My! You haven't reduced one bit! How much pizzas and ice creams have you been stuffing yourself with!! Go and washup, I will lay the dinner." In between my father enquired about the flight, the delays and the customs. To each one his own, I thought and smiled to myself. "Your friends have been calling up since morning! They sure do keep track of your whereabouts!," said Amma. "I was wondering why you haven't yet brought up that topic!," I retorted. The luggage was instantly rummaged, the goodies disposed off, the rest divided amidst the gathered, and I hit the bed.