I run down the stairs. I hold the heavy brown box in my arms, gripping it tightly as though it’d run away from me if I didn’t. I open my room door. I sit on the floor. I stare at the traveler who’s made the journey from home, across seven seas, seven oceans, seven time zones. A parcel. From home. Holding home when home is so far away.
I see tape wrapped all around it, clearly my dad’s handiwork, for he believes there’s no such thing as too much tape (Rightfully so, seeing as the tape is the soldier’s armor). I see my mom’s sprawling handwriting on the page she’s stuck to the outside, declaring to the world that it was the property of Alankrita Malhotra and Alankrita Malhotra only (Of course, for the soldier mustn’t be lost.).
The box has done good. As I carefully cut through the tape with scissors, an overwhelming wave hits me. I’m not sure what it is. Is it relief that I finally have Indian Lay’s Magic Masala Chips? Is it homesickness, for all these things just reminded me of home? Or is it love, for it’s been three months since I last hugged my parents? I think it’s a mix of everything.
As the contents of the parcel began to reveal themselves, my room is flooded with what I could best call love. Love in the form of a million Indian premade meals, because I hate dining hall vegetarian food. Love in the form of my favorite stuffed animal that couldn’t fit into my 23 kg suitcase as I was packing my life up to come to college. Love in the form of a pack of pens from the only stationary company I like using, one you can only find in the streets of India. Love in the form of a jumbled colors and jumbled thoughts card, one that proclaimed me as the “bestest sister ever.”
It is 3 p.m., so it’s the middle of the night back home, but all I want to do was to call my mom and cry like a baby on FaceTime. I love every bit of this parcel. I miss home. I also somewhere somehow dread eating the blue lays, sniffing my favorite stuffed animal or using my favorite pens. It’s strange, isn’t it? But I think it’s because I know these flavors, smells and experiences will take me back home for a few moments, and then coming back to my dorm room in an alien city filled with alien people within an alien country would be all the more jarring.
I do it nonetheless. And it does hurt, that nostalgia, as I first untangle the web of emotions spun within me. But it also makes me feel connected to people and places across the globe. Old home permeating into my new room makes it feel like a new home.
I hate home being far away, I really do. But without home being far away, I’d never have the out worldly experiences of experiencing home, even while being so far away. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical brown box. Sometimes, brown boxes can be Zoom calls, group chats, gossip sessions. And I think that’s the ultimate satisfaction.
The brown-box lover