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.
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?