Departures and arrivals


I am three. We are taking a trip, the entire family packed into a minivan. There are no empty spaces in the vehicle: it is stuffed with adults, kids, bags of snacks both savoury and sweet. We aren’t going too far from home, just a little outside the parts of city we are familiar with, down the stretch of road along the beach. We are spending the day at an amusement park that promises to be fun for all ages.

My parents are discussing what ride to go on next.

“Everyone should be able to go,” my mother declares.

My father is still thinking.

“Okay, let’s go on the giant wheel.”

They stand around talking some more, but I don’t want to wait. I waddle off in search of the giant wheel, of course I know what it looks like. I stand in the queue, but when it’s my turn to go in, the man guarding the gate scoops me up.

“You’re too small, you can’t go.”

“But we are going on the giant wheel next.”

He wants me to wait.

“Where are your parents?”

He asks me my name and age, and proceeds to announce into the microphone. He says I’m lost.

My parents come running soon, others trailing behind.

“We were so scared!”

“Why did you go off like that?”

“You should wait for us.”

“But you said we are going on the giant wheel next,” I informed them.

Maybe I just couldn’t wait for them to get moving.


I am eighteen. We are having an argument, about a boy who likes me too much. He likes me enough to threaten to kill himself if I don’t agree to be his girlfriend.

My father is not buying it, he says I must have led the boy on, given him signals. My mother is crying, but also yelling. Everything is incomprehensible.

“You were too friendly, you didn’t know to draw the line,” they tell me.

I don’t want to stand there to hear more of this, so I leave the house, catch an auto-rickshaw. The driver doesn’t ask me questions because he can see the tears and phlegm on my face. He drops me off at my friend’s place, and from this friend I borrow money so I can pay him.

My parents ask me to come back.

“You shouldn’t have run off like that.”

Maybe I just couldn’t wait for them to understand.


I am twenty five. My parents and I, we are waging a long war, about love and arranged marriage, and a candidate they want me to consider. The war goes on for days and nights, months and years.

They don’t hear me, or even if they do, they like to believe logic has deserted me. We speak in silences.

One time, the noise is deafening, and I leave in the middle of night, without money or a change of clothes, with just my phone and nowhere to go. I don’t want to wait for them to come around.

My brother calls me.

“I’m waiting for you to come back, I’ve left the door open.”

I return. I am not told I shouldn’t have left.

Maybe they are used to it by now, maybe they imagine I know better.

41 thoughts on “Departures and arrivals

  1. That was an excellent piece of writing. I am a huge fan of this ‘snapshots from different stages’ kind of approach. It works fabulously well for shorter pieces such as this one where the reader is expected to connect the dots. The finish was perfect, especially the word “imagine” πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the last part where you are no longer admonished for leaving.That to me is the acceptance pf you as an adult.Loved the “We speak in silences”.Great writing as always, Anusha!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the 3 vignettes all centered around leaving your parents. Since it was your brother who called, I’m wondering if your parents even knew you left that last time. It could be either way πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anusha, this was really beautifully woven. The leavings and returnings repeating through the different ages was a great way to illustrate that quest for independence. Also, this line was terrific and intimately familiar: β€œWe speak in silences”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for writing this piece, Anusha. Your writing flows, like a river that moves from one town to another. I adore the three-year-old girl. She is adorably impatient and she seems to have known the route her life would take. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the different stages of maturity that you’ve written about here. The connection between each, running away from family, was made more powerful by her final return. The numbering that you’ve inserted kind of threw me off. I’m thinking you could easily have written this without the numbering. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great little series! I love how you tied them all together, bookending each segment with similar openings & closings. A thought – you ended the third section with a double maybe sentence. I wonder if they would tie together in an even stronger fashion by utilizing the same structure for the closing sentences on all three.

    I love the feeling of watching you grow up in snippets. Very lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point, thanks for the feedback! I wanted it to be a little different from the previous sections to indicate to the reader that they’ve reached the end of the essay. But I see what you mean. πŸ™‚


  8. Lovely write-up Anu! You’ve left the reader to connect the dots and you’ve shown how parents can be so anxious (almost terrified) of letting go, be it something as “minor” as a giant wheel or “major” as a relationship. Loved the way you depicted the moment the girl sat inside the auto rickshaw, “The driver doesn’t ask me questions because he can see the tears and phlegm on my face.” Lovely! A slightly more elaborate version of this would make a really good short story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ram, thanks for reading! Ah yes, this comment keeps coming back to haunt me. I’m so used to writing <1000 words.
      Yes, parents being terrified of letting go, trying to assert independence in whatever way possible – I meant for these to be recurring themes.


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