Identity Check | Who am I?

whereamifrom

Home time! Four years since I left and as always, the excitement just grows. But my last visit was different with a handful of bittersweet realizations.

A timeline…

08:00 hours: Outside the railway station

To my horror, I blanked out and couldn’t place a key lane on my way home! Armed with determination to make up for the loss of that one name, I spoke in my very best Gujarati (local language) to showcase my diminishing authority over the city where I have spent about twenty years of my life. Assurance seeped in as I recalled every nook and crevice in the lanes around my home.

08:45 hours: My first peek

The sofa covers had been changed. The ceiling fan creaked more than usual. The potted plants had been rearranged. My steps faltered, albeit for barely a second. The easy familiarity that usually engulfs me was deferrred by that one second, yet I stubbornly refused to acknowledge the delay… But for how long??

13:00 hours: Post lunch “siesta”

I took it upon myself to clean the drawing and dining rooms. And hello smug realization! I could have done it blindfolded. My memory did not betray me – my fingers lovingly remembered every scratch and dent. I was humming and chatting with Dad as I have done a thousand times before. It was just another regular autumn cleaning to make Mom happy and earn brownie points.

17:00 hours: A ride to… forget?

As I rode my beloved scooter after almost six months, I was aghast that I had to open Google Maps. I could no longer place the cafe at its precise location. My mind was playing games. A lane brought memories of another hundreds of miles away. A building looked exactly like my old flat in Mumbai. A colored house transported me to a quaint one near my old institute in Goa. Was I disloyal and cheating on my city??

22:00 hours: The skirt quest!

Hunting for an old skirt made me stumble upon a big bunch of letters, photographs, hand-made greeting cards, love notes, embroidered handkerchiefs, school reports and old cassettes. A plate of onions kept distracting me as I went through every item, laughing over my effortlessly absurd past self. The diary entries (Man! We learn to bitch early!) and moments of “Oh! I had a crush on him??”  were priceless. I ended up clinging to that faded piece of paper as if my whole life depended on it… Where is time travel when you need it the most??

02:00 hours: Panic Attack!!!

I belonged to this city. I knew it. I had proof and was woefully curled up in a nest of them – reports, photos, letters and books. I am NEVER EVER throwing them away; those old souvenirs made me and are invested deep inside me.

Though I was restless in those tearful thoughts, sleep eventually took over. The home sleep. The best’est’ and incomparable!

But! Where do I belong? Who am I? A Pseudo Gujju? A Neo Maharashtrian? A wanna-be Goan? My loyalties stand confused. Meanwhile, I was at peace. I was home. It felt good to be back home.


I am nowhere close to finding the answers – it is definitely more complex than home is where the heart is… Anyone feel the same? How do you deal with it? Have you made peace with this?

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27 thoughts on “Identity Check | Who am I?

  1. My husband has a travelling job, so it has been 10 years and 4 attempts to establish our roots at one place. But would we trade it? No. Just taking the best of what we get…

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  2. Brilliantly written!! I feel like that on the first day after even a 3 week outstation assignment! Can imagine what you must feel! This can be a script for a short film!

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  3. are we more than location? our home town will always have that place…its funny, when i have been away for a bit i come home and things have changed…places i used to go gone…new lights…new roads…cool though at home you fit right back in with your dad…

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  4. I recently did a Europe/England trip and I went back to the little village I lived in. I felt very similar, it was very odd to see the place after 10 years. It was wierd though, the village hadn’t really changed at all, it was me – I was seeing it through different eyes. I loved this post! 🙂

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  5. It’s an interesting phenomenon, no? You feel when you leave a place that you don’t change, but in fact everything changes. Friends move on with their friendships, new buildings spring up, roads look different, and we are changed too. I share your quest for what it is that is the essence of home. You raise such interesting questions, Prajakta.

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  6. It’s the little things that disorient us. I remember having a weeping meltdown one Christmas because I’d asked my parents if anything changed, they said no, and when I got there the road (formerly dirt) had been paved. It seems like that’s something you would have noticed, Mom and Dad….

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  7. Ooh I love going through old photos, old clothes, digging inside drawers and wardrobes when I go home. Old books, old letters, old collectibles, etc…nostalgia is a bitch when you are so far…But when you go home I can’t wait to delve deep into these memories and get carried away for hours unknown….
    Lovely post as usual 🙂

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