Sisterhood of the Traveling Hot Chocolate

I realized I now call Pune home. When I first arrived here in September, I didn’t think that would ever happen. But now that it has, I feel an overwhelming amount of love for this city and the people who have become family in it. 

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

I decided to dedicate this day to rest. After three weeks straight of traveling and being sick for the entirety of it, my body called it quits and I knew when I woke up Sunday morning that I probably wouldn’t leave my bed too much. 

Being stationary and alone for the first time in what felt like months plunged me into my own thoughts, something that I’ve been doing a lot but not with the clarity necessary to make it productive. I received an audio from my friend in which he called to my attention the fact that when I said “I had returned home from traveling,” he couldn’t figure out whether I meant Pune or the United States. 

I called Pune home. 

I don’t believe I’ve forgotten my home in Ohio at all. In fact, it’s been entirely the opposite. I’ve been ultra-pensive in regards to where I grew up as of late, and the things that shaped me into the person I am now. 

Its February, but it doesn’t feel like what February feels like in Ohio. February in Ohio is frozen. White. There are no leaves on the trees. Everything around you has a rawness to it, like the earth has been stripped from all its warmth and you’re left with a shell that only provokes thoughts of the potential of spring. This environment forces you to look for that warmth elsewhere; I always found mine in hot chocolate. 

Thinking of this and remembering my host family has a carton of unopened Cadbury cocoa powder in the pantry, I rise from my second nap of the day on a mission to make myself hot chocolate. In the kitchen, I see my host sister, Sanika. She’s the same age as my brother Ezra, who’s 16th birthday is in two weeks. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to love something as much as Ezra loves hot chocolate. He would make it even in the summer – it didn’t matter if it was ninety degrees, he loved it even then. He always asked if he could make some for me too. When my sister left for college and we were stuck in transition due to my parent’s divorce, these were moments of peace he and I shared. I never told him how much they meant to me, but I probably should have. 

I asked Sanika if I could make her a cup and she gave me a small smile with an enthusiastic “Yes.” I made it the same way I had watched my dad do it for us after too much time building snowmen, letting the smell fill up the whole house. I poured it into mugs and the two of us sat at our kitchen table and dipped chocolate chip cookies into the warmth and laughed. I told her about my brother, she said she wished she could meet him. 

I exchanged one sibling for another. I shared the love my brother showed me to one of my new sisters. I grew up always wanting a little sister instead of a little brother (typical older sibling behavior), but now I have both. 

Ezra, I miss you, and thank you. 

Madeline, Ezra, Ruadhán, Purva, Sanika: You are my home.