“One cappuccino to go please” Sonia was at her regular StarBucks joint on her way to office. This had become a routine for her since the time she arrived in Singapore. It had only been three months and Sonia was already falling in love with the place.
Sonia was in Singapore for a work assignment. She had come onsite with one other colleague and that was the only friend she had in the new city. Work was great. She loved what she was doing. New city, new atmosphere, new culture… it was all amazing.
Sonia also knew one other acquaintance in Singapore. Her cousin’s friend Aryan, who would check on her once in a while considering she was new to the place. Sonia had met him just once. Aryan was a very cool person. He would call her once in a while to check on her and inquire if she needed any help.
Diwali was just around the corner. Sonia was missing home a lot. She had always spent Diwali at home. For the first time she was going to be away from her parents and brother. Her mom couriered in some home-made snacks and sweets all the way to Singapore just in time for Diwali. Sonia was very happy when she had received the package.
Her colleague who had come with her to Singapore, invited Sonia to a family friend’s place for Diwali. It was a lunch plan. Sonia accepted the invitation, as being alone on Diwali day wouldn’t be the best idea for her. She had a decent time at the family’s house.
After lunch, they all decided to step out for a movie and an outing at the mall. Sonia dint feel like it. Even though the lunch meet up was great, she was missing her family badly. She decided to give it a miss and went back to her apartment.
A silent apartment made her feel even worse. That morning when she was speaking to her family, her brother was updating her about the happenings at home and Sonia couldn’t stop thinking about it. She was feeling homesick. She put aside the thought of the happenings at her home back in India and hit the sack, hoping a little nap would make her feel better.
It was almost 6 in the evening, when Sonia was woken up by a call. All so sleepy, she hesitantly picked up the line, “Hi Aryan!” she said.
“HAPPY DIWALI SONIA!” came a loud excited voice from the other end of the phone. Sonia was jolted awake from her sleep with that voice. She could hear fire crackers bursting too.
“Happy Diwali to you too Aryan!” replied Sonia very softly and dryly.
“HELLO!! HELLO!! Can you hear me Sonia” yelled a hyper Aryan.
Sonia straightened her voice and replied “Yes Aryan! I can hear you. Happy Diwali to you too” she repeated.
There was too much of commotion on Aryan’s end of the call. With the least desire to hear fire crackers, Sonia just disconnected the call and lazed back on her pillow.
The phone rang again, it was Aryan again. He might not have heard her the 1st time, hence he was calling back. This time he was literally inaudible. Sonia did not have the patience to reply. She decided to disconnect the call and text Aryan.
After around 10 minutes, Sonia’s phone rang again. It was Aryan… again!! Sonia was at the peak of her frustration and still a little drowsy from her nap, she picked the call “How many times do I have to tell you, Happy Diwali! I heard you. There is too much commotion at your end and I will speak to you later. Didn’t you get my message?” yelled an angry Sonia.
This time the other end of the call was pretty silent. “Sonia… are you ok?” came Aryan’s reply. The moment Aryan said that, Sonia couldn’t hold it in any longer. Her eyes welled up. She was in tears. She was crying… Silently. Aryan could hear her sobbing. “Sonia.. What happened…? Why are you crying?” he sounded really worried for her.
A sobbing Sonia then told Aryan about how homesick she was feeling. She even told him about the conversation she had with her family in the morning and the pictures her brother had sent her of the preparations at home. This was the first time she was away from family for Diwali and she was feeling miserable to the core.
Aryan felt for her. He tried to console her. He told her how he was away from family for the last 3 years. He missed them too. But this is how life was… “For work or for studies or for other stuff, sometimes we have to stay away from family. You are not the only one Sonia. There are many like you. Including me. Rather than sobbing at home, you should have gone out with your friend. That would have diverted your mind.” said a concerned Aryan.
He was making complete sense to her. A stranger that he was for her, he managed to console her so well. She immediately calmed down and wiped off her tears. It was a relief for her talking to someone like Aryan who was in a similar situation like herself. She started to feel better. Aryan and Sonia had their little chit chat and they hung up their call.
Sonia decided to get up and freshen up. She was not going to be crying on the beautiful day of Diwali. She wore a new dress, searched for some candles at home and lit them for the spirit of Diwali.
Sonia was feeling a lot better now. From an irritated and grumpy girl, she was all smiles thanks to Aryan.
She messaged him “Thank you for cheering me up! I would have brooded all day if it weren’t for your call! Happy Diwali to you once again!”
Just then she heard the bell ring. Sonia was surprised, who could it be at this time. She went to answer the door. To her amusement, it was Aryan standing right outside the door. She opened the door and looked at him completely surprised. He had a box of sweets and some fire crackers in his hand.
Sonia was too confused to react. He handed her the sweet box and asked her to come along with her.
“Keep these sweets in the fridge and come with me.”
“Did Aryan always have this excited tone or did she notice it just today!?” wondered a confused Sonia.
“Quickly! Grab your house keys and come soon. I will be waiting for you in the parking lot!” and Aryan walked off to the elevator.
“But where are we going?” obviously Aryan couldn’t hear her. He was already inside the elevator.
Sonia anyways did not have anything to do, she thought. She blew off all the candles and kept just one small candle lighten near the window in a safe way. She was already dressed up anyway to step out of home.
She went down to the parking lot and sat in Aryan’s car. He drove off almost immediately. Sonia was a little skeptical now. Considering the fact that Aryan was her cousin’s friend and that he had just consoled her moments ago over the phone, she came to the car. “But what was he up to?” wondered Sonia.
Sonia almost had the emergency number dialed on her phone, when in less than 2 minutes Aryan had stopped the car next to an open ground near her home. Sonia had always seen this place on her way to office. This place was usually used as a sports ground for cricket and football fans. Today the place was crowded with kids and families all around. The place was lit like a grand event. Kids and adults were playing with fire crackers.
“You said you were missing home right. I thought let me bring you to a place not exactly home, but like home with home like people.” Said Aryan.
This is the sweetest thing someone had ever done for Sonia. Her eyes welled up again but this time it were tears of joy.
“Stop being so melodramatic Sonia! Come I will introduce you to some of my friends and family. You can make new friends too this Diwali!” said Aryan.
Sonia just laughed away her tears and joined Aryan with his friends.
One thing was for sure, if not at this ground… She had surely found one new friend this Diwali! She smiled at Aryan and continued enjoying her Diwali with the diyas and fire crackers.
Note from Author: I have an idea for the continuation of this story… But I am not too sure as yet. So for now…
TO BE CONTINUED! 🙂