Mum and me

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I wonder what Rekha Narayanan would be doing back home. She would probably be bustling around the kitchen now, preparing something delicious, at the same time worrying about a hundred house chores to be done. And she would be muttering under her breath, how nobody helps her.
From time to time, she would look out of the window and would break into a smile the moment she would spot a Bulbul, or Mynahs, Magpies, Rufus Treepie, Blue Pigeon, or Kingfishers in our water bowls in the garden. She would insist on calling me or Nishi to see the spectacle with her, even though we have seen the birds dunk in the water and spray their feathers a million times. It still makes her laugh like a child.
Most nights she wakes up and goes sits near her window. There are two owls sitting on a window in the abandoned house next to ours, and she will keep gazing at them in awe. They stare back at the intruder and sometimes let out sharp toots in mock anger.
When I think of mum, it reminds me of our drives last year. During the lockdown, I was stuck at home for six months, the longest stretch at home since I was in school. Once the monsoon hit in Mid May, mum and I used to go on drives daily. We would wear our masks, and keep driving, not stepping out of the vehicle or doing so only when no one else was around. Palakkad, Kerala looks lovely in the rains. The canals, the streams, the rivers are all full, the paddy feels shining gold and green, the Nilgiri mountains full of mist and waterfalls. We would stop at roadside stalls and have some pakode or bhajji. I love how simple my family is. For weeks and months, we went on our drives, the two of us, and had the happiest time together. I know she misses me not being around there now.
The rest of the time, she is imploring me to clean my room, my bathroom be more organized and I insist to her that I am an author, and a CEO. Would Shakespeare be him if he spent all his time cleaning his bathroom? A broom comes flying and lands at my feet, as her reply to my pertinent question. “Shakespeare my foot”, she quips.
Every now and then, once a week she texts, and asks me impossible things. “Get me some orchids from Sikkim.” Cuter messages read “get me a smooth stone from a river”. I smile every time I read these messages.
Mum, I am in Arunachal abhi, safe and happy. I am going on hikes daily, and I know you would have loved them too. I wish you were here. When I am back, we will go on our drives, eat egg pakoda, and gush at rivers and birds, just like we used to.
I love you, amma.
neeraj narayanan family
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Neeraj Narayanan

Neeraj Narayanan, a.k.a Captain Nero, is the founder of OHOT. In the summer of 2013, he quit his corporate job and went backpacking around the world. In a year full of (mis)adventures, he ended up being chased by a bear in a Croatian forest, being held at gunpoint by a mafia gang lord in Turkey, running with the bulls in Spain, and dancing in the clubs of Spain and Italy. A year later, he started leading group trips for people.

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