Ananya observed the rain, whilst sat in comfort with warmth and shelter, the raindrops pelted against the top of the window and quickly trickled down. Whilst staring out the window, Ananya caught a look at her reflection. Her big brown eyes were staring back at her and her bouncy, naturally black, curly hair lay on her shoulders. It’s funny how I look nothing like mama and bhai, like they picked me up from a store in India, she thought.
Teacher: Miss Ananya Gupta, Ananyaaaa! Am I interrupting you?
Ananya: No, sir. Sorry, sir
Teacher: Right then, shall we get back to studying then?
Ananya: yes, sir.
As Ananya and her best friend Sneha walked through the halls of their university something caught Sneha’s eye, she bolted towards the notice board and unpinned a piece of paper.
Sneha: Ananya! Look! Our university is taking a trip to India, our India.
Sneha: we have to go!
Ananya: no way, mama would never let me go. You know, she doesn’t even like to talk about India, she’d freak out if I told her I wanted to go, that to without her.
Sneha: oh come on Ananya, just think about how fun it’ll be. The school year is almost over, our holidays begin the day after tomorrow and we could be spending them in India. At least try to convince aunty.
Sneha is only 5”4 in height, has a petite frame and a quiet voice. But don’t let that fool you because when she looks at you, straight in the eye, with her death glare locked in, there’s no way you can refuse her; NO WAY.
Ananya: Okay fine, I’ll mention India to mama, if she’s in a good mood, I’ll talk to her about the trip. OH NO, look at the time. I can’t be late today.
Ananya opens the door, drops her bag and follows the smell of the food straight to the kitchen
Ananya: Mama, I’m sorry I got a little late
Umaya (mama): come on beta, you know it’s your papa’s birthday today and that we always eat his favourite food together on this day.
Ananya: I’m sorry (holds ears)
Umaya (mama) It’s okay, go call your bhai
Ananya: (shouting from the bottom of the stair) Tarun bhai, come down
Tarun immediately runs down the stairs to joins his little sister and Mama at the dining table, where all the food is set.
At the dining table, Ananya can’t help but notice how much Tarun bhai and mamas looks resemble each other. The both of them have sea green eyes and light brown hair, a complete contrast to Ananyas’ features.
It’s been 12 years since papa passed away, 12 years since we shifted from Mumbai to London. Yet I still don’t remember anything about the first 8 years of my life that I spent in Indian; no memories no stories, no photographs-nothing.
As we all sat and had dinner, mama and bhai shared pleasant stories about papa. I’ve always been jealous that, as bhai is 4 years older than me, he remembers our childhood in India. I slowly mustered up the courage to change the topic.
Ananya: Bhai, why don’t you tell us a story from when we were in India?
Tarun: There’s just so many to chose from
Umaya (mama): Tarun, Ananya enough talking. Quickly finish your food
Ananya’s POV (in her bedroom)
As soon as I mention India mamas mood changes, she tenses us and a sadness appears on her face. I shouldn’t have mentioned it, I upset Mama. I’m just going to tell Sneha I won’t be able to go on the Indian trip. Where’s my phone?
Tarun, with visible tension and stress on his face, slowly walks down the stairs and through the kitchen door, where mama is cleaning the dishes. He stops for a minute and thinks about how he’s going to talk to mama about this topic. He takes a deep breath in and taps her on the back
Umaya: Yes, Tarun
Tarun: Niel called… from India. He told me that Dadu isn’t well. Dadu needs us maa
Umaya: I can’t.. I can’t go there, you can’t go, we can’t take Ananya
Tarun: Okay mama, I understand it’s hard for you. I’ll go by myself and don’t worry about Ananya, I’ll tell her I’m going to visit my friends studying in Spain, for the summer, she’ll never find out the truth we left behind in India. Right now one of us needs to be with dadu.
It’s like life is trying to take me back to face my past, the past which I ran away from, the past which I’ve been running from all these years. How do I explain this to you Tarun, who knows what’s waiting for you in India, because even you don’t know the full truth.
Ananya: come on, come on pick up
Ananya: Sneha, my family’s keeping a secret from me
Ananya: I was going to call you to say I can’t go on the trip to India, when I realised I left my phone at the dining table. As I picked the phone up, I overheard Bhai talking to mama; he’s going to India to meet our dadu. I didn’t even know I had a grandad in India. And that’s not all of it, he’s going to lie to me and tell me he’s going to Spain because I can’t know the truth.
Sneha: So what are you going to do, now?
Ananya: I’m going to find out the truth, by going to India.