Baba waited and waited and waited until…

Oishi will start college in a few months, and the grueling and nerve-wracking college application process has begun. She is very anxious and nervous about the process but not so worried about being far away from home because she, very wisely, decided early on that she doesn’t want to go too far from home.

I, on the other hand, was eager to start my independent dorm (or hostel as they called in India) life in Kolkata, a ginormous city compared to my little hometown of Hindustan Cables, for studying engineering. I didn’t pay attention to the little detail that Kolkata was far away from home and my parents did not own a car. I was enamored with the idea of living with friends and managing my life on my own, only to discover shortly thereafter how little I knew myself.

I was dreadfully homesick. I wanted to come home every week but couldn’t afford to do it. Sometimes I tried to come home once a month, but that was rarely possible. Ma tried to visit me once a month to hand me my monthly allowance for tuition, boarding, books and food.

There was no phone in my parents’ home. So I couldn’t call them and hear their voice when I felt distressed. Instead, I checked the letter box everyday. Baba was very good with letters and kept me updated of the tiny details in his long letters. But there were days when I just wanted to see them, relish Ma’s cooking and hear Baba’s soothing voice.

There were a couple of express trains from Kolkata to Rupnarayanpur, a railway station close to my home. Besides those, there were many local trains, which stopped at every station and were cheaper. I usually took one of the local trains to get home.

During one of the lonely (most of my friends visited their parents in Kolkata), miserable weekends, I decided to take the train and surprise Ma and Baba. Rupnarayanpur was not a well-maintained railway station because very few trains stopped there. People coming from Kolkata would get down on one platform, jump down on the railway tracks to cross (no one used the over bridge) and crawl up on the other unusually high platform. That weekend, I, weary from the long and arduous journey,  got down from my train and had barely placed my hands on the other platform, when a warm voice said, “Maia, hold my hand.” I saw the hand and felt a lump in my throat. Baba was smiling, “I had been checking all trains since afternoon because I had a feeling you would come home today.”

Sharmistha’s Book

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Sharmistha Das

Sharmistha Das, an Indian immigrant engineer and entrepreneur, is the author of "From Hindustan Cables Limited - Journey of a Small-Town Indian Immigrant Woman". Every South Asian woman who has immigrated to America will identify with the adventurous journey of Sharmistha Das. Born in a small rural company town of Hindustan Cables Limited in Bengal, India, Sharmistha grew up with her brother, mother and father in a simple home without running water or furniture, but with a great amount of love. Supported by her parents, she left her hometown for Kolkata and became the first female engineer from her community. After her marriage, she moved to Bangkok, Thailand and finally to America, the land of opportunity and heartache. While working and bringing up her daughter, she got her Masters in Business Administration and started her own business. Unthinkable for a girl from Hindustan Cables, she got divorced in 2012 and adapted to a new life as a single woman and as a single mother. Sharmistha’s story will inspire any women to dare to live her dreams.

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