I swear I thought it was a gun shot. But then I saw the orange sparks against the dark sky. Fire crackers. Ignited for me. I got out of the car and was welcomed by my sister Saroja. Eager to see my new home I left my chapals at the door and walked inside. A dozen little faces, all teeth, threw flower petals in the air. My sisters students who had been waiting hours for my arrival, welcomed me. I couldn't stop smiling and knew that I would never be able to say thank you as much as I felt it.
My sister introduced me to my brother, Jogesh (but everyone calls him Bablu) and my parents, Paruna and Srinivas, who I now call Mom and Dad. Paruna has warm brown eyes that remind me of my Mother's back in the states. Srinivas, a welcoming face and a round belly. I will never forget what Dad said to me the night I arrived. No fear, he said. There is no mine and yours; only ours, he said. You have no fear, he said, with a smile.
These words have stuck with me. No fear. They are so simple but also carry immense meaning. I think of them when it is night time and I Am walking alone. Or when I have to ask my host Mom where to do laundry. No fear has been relevant for me when I face seemingly impossible situations and also with more simple endeavors.
Tonight, for the first time, I took a cab alone at night. The street was bustling with people. I knew it wasn't dangerous, but still, as an outsider it felt daunting. I got in the small yellow auto with three strangers, thinking of Dad's words. And when I got out and walked up to the gate of my house, for the first time, I felt that feeling wash over me. That feeling, when you get home after a long day. Or when you've been somewhere you don't know for a while, and you pull up to your house and the feeling just washes over you. You're home. You're safe. A familiar feeling. One that I didn't know if I could feel here with the spicy days and sticky nights. But I did. And here is where I am supposed to be.