I stood outside the house. 457 Oak Wood Circle. How pretentious did that sound for an Indian home? Did I really want to meet the people inside? What if they were having a get-together? What if they told me to go away? Worse, what if they were having a party and invited me in? What would my family say if they knew where I was?
The air was crisp as I took a deep breath. Fresh and a welcome change from my hometown’s heat and pollution. The house was large from the outside, it looked tastefully done with its manicured garden and ornate black lamps hanging from various ceilings. I didn’t hear any voices – what if they weren’t home.
Answering my question, a figure walked through one of the rooms while switching on the lights. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. Then I heard a dog bark. My heart jumped. Anyone who owns a dog and is good to it has to have a good heart, even if it’s buried somewhere deep. My friend had laughed when I told her that. But I’d always believed it to be true.
So I opened the gate and shut it behind me, as quietly as I could. I walked up the sloping driveway. Another tiny rose garden on my right and two cars before me – a silver small one and a larger red one. Who was the second car for?
I should not judge a book by its cover, I reminded myself. It had happened very often as a child with my mother. She never married. We were constantly judged. You get the gist.
I tried not to think of my mother. Memories from my childhood, adulthood, from her funeral – it was all too much.
I took a deep breath and looked at some of the other houses. The smell was unlike anything I had ever come across. Fresh, clear, leafy, it cleared my head as I breathed it in. If it had a colour, it would be one of those deep orangey-browns, I decided.
The other houses were as perfect as the one I stood in front of. Spacious lawns, big windows, clean cars in the driveway.
I turned around and looked at the door once more before walking up to it. I wiped my palms on my jacket. My heart was beating so hard that I didn’t hear the doorbell when I rang it.
The door was opened by a older woman, dressed neatly in a sari with her hair tied back in a braid. She smiled politely.
“Hi. Can I help you?”
“Does Rahul Wadia live here?”
“Yes. Both of them do.”
“Yes, junior and senior,” she laughed.
I swallowed. “Well, I think I’m here for the senior.”
“I’ve never met him before, so...”
Her eyes grew suspicious. “Who are you?”
“I’m his son.”
I wondered if she was going to let me inside.