Lost in the Party!

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I was at a party last night. A party I gate crashed actually. I wasn’t invited even though everyone around me had received one of those glossy gold and blue invitation cards. I really wanted to be there, so I decided to cleverly make my way inside. I knew I deserved to be there and see all those people.

I fully expected to feel like a deer in headlights on my entrance; instead I was looked right through. No one noticed as I slipped between groups or deliberately bumped into them. There wasn’t even a polite smile directed my way. I had prepared some truly witty sentences that I could throw around and practiced my laugh at hundred times in front of the mirror (Remember, left profile is more flattering!). I wanted my troubles to finally pay off… and how dare not a single person acknowledge my presence. I was visible; I had double-checked my reflection.

Time to reveal a secret – I didn’t even know who was throwing the party. I barely knew the people there – two or five I guess. Don’t ask me anything beyond their names. But I had to be there! It was the crème de la crème! The numerous years I have spent in bylines have made me an expert at studying those upturned angles of the jaw. The delicate touch of fingers to mouth and elegant flick of an errant lock of hair from the eyes. The rich perfume that followed their steps – the luxuriant air of confidence and belonging. They thrive in that comfort and assurance; here they find a kinship that I have been craving and trying to cultivate.

This was my moment. It was time for me take the spotlight and make them notice me. I jumped into the very eye of the tornado and loudly announced my presence. My senses were on high alert to demonstrate my lines and gestures right on cue. Heard I was and seen I definitely was. I was also groped and tugged and pinched and pulled. Not that I felt anything. I had arrived and was basking in the moment. Did that cute guy just let out a loud guffaw over something I said? Oh my! Bring up a round of champagne please.

It was nearing dusk as I decided to make my excuses. I carefully matched my steps with other regular guests as we made our way towards the door. I happened to glance at the mirror and to my shock, I couldn’t find myself. I twisted and turned trying to find my reflection but it was not there. I asked someone if they could see me and they gave me a strange look as they replied “There is no you. There is only us now. Us!”

I didn’t understand and look! There was someone in the reflection who was wearing the same look of confusion. I realized it was my body. Just not the same one that had walked into the party. I could see a twisted arm, a forked tongue and glazed eyes. I saw faint rashes around my neck almost like a rope had been at it and a complicated knot weighing down my head. I was truly one of them – matching feature to feature. I was not me. I had left that me behind at the party probably cowering into a corner. I could see her at a distance, growing fainter in the rising sun and looking at me with grim accusation.

Until we never met again.

Identity Check | Who am I?

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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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