I am waiting at the doorstep, Amma
A smile slowly spreads across my face
As I remember how you’d always trick me into sitting here, after the longest chase
Under the pretext of watching the bulbuls and monals and quails
You ended up feeding me with porridge, and a hundred tales

I was a difficult kid to  handle, wasn’t I, Amma?
How I’d run across the hills, into the setting sun
To return just in time only for the evening chai and bun
And remember how I took that big fall as I climbed to steal apples off Negi ji’s tree?
But you calmly came around, and helped me flee!

I have a confession to make, Amma
I never told you, but all my friends were in awe of my relationship with you
Remember how you took us berry-plucking in the spring of ’89?
And when you excitedly helped us separate the wild berries, from those which were just fine
All my friends wished that they had an Amma like you, and yet you were only mine

I realise what a great friend I had in you, Amma
Remember how you’d trek up the mountains with me, across farmlands and forests, early each spring?
And as we lay out our picnic of kafals and bilberries, even the birds would stop to hear you sing
In the autumns, we’d watch the winds take away dried leaves into the bluest skies
And gaze out of the window, to watch them look like tiny butterflies

Then I grew up Amma, didn’t I?
And just like bulbuls and the gulls, I flew away, too
Into the city life, to build a world completely new
Everything was so different here, Amma. Everything was so fast
Nobody had the time, to even watch a moment last

You’d always taught me to adapt, Amma
And like the mountain trees that survived through each season, be responsive to change
But yet without you, the new life was so strange
I called you up regularly before, but soon could not keep up
So I reassured  myself that maybe this was a part of being grownup

In all these years you kept asking me to come home, Amma
And finally I am waiting at the doorstep, Amma. I came here with you to stay
But these birds, the trees, the hills and this house – they all make me feel like a foreigner today
I am secretly hoping that this is your game of hide and seek with me, even as I wait for you from dusk to dawn
You were my home, Amma. And now you are gone.

Home. Photo credit: Samir Dasgupta