Vinita was so annoyed with her family. So she walked out of the house. But as dusk fell, she began to have doubts.
It was strange, Vinita thought, how you could see the same people every day of your life and not know them. And how a different angle, a new perspective helped you understand what they meant to you.
But she wasn’t thinking of any of this when she stormed out of the house. All she wanted was to get far away from home and everyone in it.
It was only after she had reached the end of her street that she realised that she had walked out in her house slippers. The bright yellow slippers, with the huge flowers on the strap, looked silly. But Vinita didn’t want to go back just to change her slippers.
She ignored the slippers and thought instead of how Amma always found fault with her, how her brother Manoj bossed her around and how Appa never said anything to help her. Her family, Vinita decided, didn’t care and wouldn’t miss her if she disappeared. This was a sad thought but she held on to it as she tried to walk off her anger.
When she finally looked around a little later the world had changed. In place of bright sunshine was the purple of dusk. Lights twinkled and everywhere she could see people hurrying home. Vinita turned her steps homewards, tired now, but still angry.
At the gate to her house she stopped. The house was blazing with lights. And then Vinita saw that her family was gathered in the living room, clearly visible through the French windows. They must be celebrating my absence, she thought. Curiosity and a sort of resigned certainty kept her rooted, watching the scene in the living room. Amma, Appa and Manoj seemed to be having a discussion. As she watched Amma pointed to something on the wall in front of her and Vinita realised she was pointing at the clock. Then Appa said something and Amma threw her hands around. Even Manoj seemed worried, his brow creased as he spoke into his mobile, watched anxiously by Amma and Appa. What, Vinita wondered, had happened in the short while that she had been out of the house? As she watched the drama being played out, she suddenly understood.
Her family was discussing her, wondering where she had disappeared. Amma was most likely imagining the most horrible things possible, Manoj was being useful and calling up her friends and Appa was providing sensible suggestions. How well she knew them! And suddenly, standing outside and watching her family worry about her, they stopped being the monsters who made her life difficult. They were the people she had known all her life, people she had not recognised till today. All it had taken was some distance and a different view, for Vinita to understand how much she mattered to her family. Suddenly her anger seemed overdone. Vinita shrugged off all her ill-feeling and opening the gate, rushed in, intent only on putting an end to the her family’s worries and fears.