"What is it, Ridhi?" She asked. I quickly turned around to find her walking towards me from the kitchen, adjusting her specs. I blinked back my tears and gave her a huge smile but she still had a worried look on her adorable face.
"I--I think I got in." I whispered, letting out a small chuckle and she couldn't hold back her tears unlike me.
"Sweet Jesus! Our prayers have been answered. Oh! This is the happiest day of my day." She choked a little and pulled me in for a tight hug. It was indeed the happiest day for both of us in a long time, "Your dad would have been so proud of you." She whispered, against my shoulders.
I finally got the scholarship to study at the Arlington University of Texas to do my masters in computer science. My dad was an alumni of that University and it has always been my dream to study over there. He used to tell me a lot of good stuff about his experience but I never really thought I would get in because I wasn't as smart as my dad.
"I know. This is amazing, grandma but it says that I have to start in a week. It's all so sudden and I don't want to leave you alone." I replied sadly.
Ever since the death of my parents, she has been talking care of me and always been there for me. Being away from her would be devasting and now, I was having second thoughts about going away to study.
This was crazy.
I mean, the university took care of my tuition fees and my stay over there based on my choice whether to stay at campus or outside but to make a change this big within a week is so stressful.
"Nonsense, who said I'm going to be alone? I can finally go on the six months all India pilgrimage tour." She squealed in excitement and I pulled back, giving her a shocked look.
"What? When did you even plan this?"
"Come on, Beta. I knew this day would come and eventually you will have to leave this house to pursue greater things. It's no surprise you got that scholarship," she smiled at me warmly and I let out a soft sigh.
"I still can't believe it. I mean, it has always been my dream to study abroad and now that it's actually happening, I'm so scared." I whined, sinking down on the couch and she sat down next to me.
"What is so scary about studying abroad?"
"A lot of things. We are Indians, grandma. Nobody could understand my accent, I could hate their food and I could have no friends. I could fail all of my classes and be a huge embarrassment." I started to list down all the negative things that could happen and she just shook her head, giving me a small chuckle.
"Or it could be the opposite of everything you listed down. You might actually love it there." She stated and I remained silent, listening to her, "My son was just like you. He had second thoughts till the minute he stepped on that plane but look at the end result. He topped his class and became so successful that he started his own company." She added and I took a huge breath, trying to hold back my tears.
"Yeah! Dad was so smart and brilliant." I whispered, thinking about him and my mom. I knew they were watching over me and they must be so proud of me right now and I didn't want to let them down.
"Stop whining and start planning for your trip. I need to make your favourite pickels and jam so that you can take them along with you." She stood up from the couch excitedly and I couldn't help but smile at her energy.
Wow, she doesn't look like she might miss me at all. It's either that or she is good at hiding her emotions. She looks happier for me than me and it all finally started to sink in.
I was going to Texas and leave India behind.
I was going to get all the freedom that I didn't have until now. In an Indian household, everyday you have a curfew even if you are an adult and I was a 21 years old virgin both mentally and physically. I've had a lot of crushes but none that I've acted upon because of my strict upbringing. Everything is considered forbidden and taboo in our society and a part of me was actually excited to get out of this country.
Now that I am going to be living on my own, I am going to do whatever the fuck I want, hopefully balancing my academics on the side.
I quickly pulled back my long black hair into a high ponytail and ran up to my room to start planning. My phone started to ring just at that exact moment and I picked it up from my bed to see who it was.
I fell back on my bed and attended the call from my best friend in the whole world.
"What's up, yaar? I'm bored at home." She spoke in a lazy tone and I could already imagine her, lying on her bed with a messy bun.
"I got into Arlington." I couldn't hold back my excitement and she literally screamed through the phone almost making me go deaf.
"No fucking way! Please tell me you are not joking," she cried out loud which made me laugh.
"I'm not joking, Esh."
"Oh my god! I'm coming over right now. We've got a lot of things to do. Bitch, I know I'm going to crying like crazy later but let's focus on the fun part now." She announced without a beat.
"Yeah, I'm still processing the whole thing and it's surreal. I don't even know what I'm going to do without--"
"Nope. Shut your damn mouth, girl. I'm not crying today. I'll be there in fifteen minutes and we are going to plan your whole wardrobe and browse everything about Texas." She cut the call before I could even reply and I let out a huge sigh, knowing that she was going to make me do all kinds of crazy things and I wasn't complaining even a bit.
She was the exact opposite of me, fun, crazy and a total extrovert. We both went to the same school, same college for our bachelor's degree but our fields were obviously different. She was more into photography and was now working as an intern for a small start up company. Even though, she comes from a strict household, she always finds a way to rebel against her parents and because of her, I've had some crazy adventures in my life that I don't regret even a bit.
God, I'm going to be missing her like crazy.
Yaar - An Indian slang similar to dude/bro/mate