The other day over a random conversation with a friend, reminiscing about times that were and talking about the times that are it hit me. I have spent about 9 years, almost a decade away from home. Home is a word that can have so many dimensions to it. Home in the geographic sense means a small industrial town off the coast of Northern Odisha. Home also means where my family is. Home is also no longer that one place anymore. Things have changed over the years. The town I grew up and I grew away from stayed the same. Well almost. My family now lives in two places leading to a sense of conflict as to where home actually is now.
As if that wasn’t enough, I have myself been away for almost a decade. Also make that all of my adult life. A girl with not too many plans, luck played her hand pushing me around, landing me where I did. I just played along I guess, amicably sometimes and sometimes after some resistance.
Delhi I think I can come close to calling home. Why? Could be because the city has been hospitable enough to me for me to live here for the major portion of my time away. Could be because the city has enriched my life with an education, with friends and also the city where I have found I could love again, unexpectedly and yet surely. My initial years were spent in culture shock and teenage awkwardness with the judgment or fear typical to a small-towner. More than half of my stay in college went in hating, adjusting, compromising and ultimately falling in love with the city. It’s like some kind of love affair. And then heartbreak because it was time to go. Manipal in the South beckoned.
The two years in Manipal were a blur of rushed activity. I have some friendships to show for my time there. And a lot not worth remembering. Looking back I think my personality has a knack for erasing the unpleasant with the magic of denial.
Like every other person my age, displaced and exposed, I have seen and survived my heartbreaks. Stoically too, might I add! As usual, just as everything else, I was all set to move to a new city- Bangalore this time, but life had other plans. Delhi wasn’t quite done with me. And I was back again. The affair continues and grows into a more stable, secure relationship and yet a niggling discontent.
4 years of braving the city, something familiar, sometimes romantic and living the quintessential single independent girl in the city. I love the comfort of having practical amenities taken care of easily. Life in the city has made me independent, fearless and confident like nothing else could have. I love that I can snuggle into bed with a good book or spend a weekend in bed addicted to some TV series as easily as I can go sit a coffee shop/ bar with my drink, enjoying the anonymity and the solitude at the same time and the freedom that comes with it. Living on your own teaches you that. You know, being and enjoying solitude.
And just when you think, you finally belong, something happens, an odd comment, a stray remark and you are an outsider to the inside joke again. And then it hits you. Homesickness; It is not that a wanderer doesn’t know homesickness. He knows it the best. However, I then realize the duality of my existence. I miss and crave for a home that doesn’t exist. I miss an idyll in my mind’s eye of my memory of home. Some real, some idealized. For home is not the same. I am not the same person who will go back there. The child who hadn’t seen the world was happy unquestioningly. The adult I am not sure will be wholly content. Somewhere deep within, I should have realized that I was embracing, unknowingly the life of a wanderer the moment I packed those bags and stepped on to the train outward bound, outward into opportunity and into a nomadic existence.
When you are displaced and you suddenly realize you belong nowhere, you also realize that you belong everywhere you get to at the very same moment. The wandering soul is a traveler and will remain one forever. You realize that the misfit shall fit in everywhere in ease and belong nowhere. You realize that the four walls, real estate are transient, limiting. You realize that you carry your home with you in the memories you make. And in all this, you also suddenly realize home is not a place, nothing geographic at all. Home is family. If you are lucky, home is your friends. If you are blessed, home is never a place. It is a person. And the soul wanders to find that person for home is love.
Who am I?
I am twenty something. Displaced. Wanderer. Dreamer. Cynic. Random. A little in love. Lost and happy about it. Eternal misfit. Here. There. Then. Now. Everywhere. Nowhere. Never. Always.