One can exorcise a ghost, how does one get rid of a country?(Paraphrased from Kiran Nagarkar’s Cuckold)
It has been a while since I have made a blog post. While I have been busy, I have not been so busy as to warrant such a long absence. Perhaps with so many changes in life (read graduate school), I felt there was too much to write. Perhaps I was not up to the task.
So the fall colors whizzed by, and I saw the first snow fall of my life. And I did not write.
But the blog has been on my mind. In the days before I came away to a different continent, in a different country, it was my voice. And as the cold wave of nostalgia sweeps over me, it is my voice again. A voice that I need, to express that feeling we try to describe as homesickness.
Those that are less discerning among us would mistake homesickness for unhappiness. That is not the case. Sure, you are unhappy when you are homesick, but that is where the relationship between them ends.
What is it that I miss? Is it the company of loved ones? Maybe so. But more than that it is that visceral relationship with my country. Its deafening noises, its food, its dust, its light, its people.
Don’t take this to be a bout of patriotism. To love India, is not to love it like one loves one’s country. It is not the chaste love of duty and honor. It is that aching love of fresh pine-laden Himalayan air in your lungs. It is the love of the half burnt smell that hovers Delhi in melancholy evenings.
To love India is like to be in love with a paradox.
I could say some more trite things about how amazing India is.
I will just tell you of some memories dear reader. Jama Masjid, old Delhi. You sit there for hours. Watching people come and go. They keep changing but they are the same. You go out to Karim’s to jostle for a table and probably end up ordering the wrong dish.
It is near Diwali night. The bite is just getting into the cold Delhi air. The auto guy is ripping you off, but you don’t care at the moment. You are passing North block South Block. There is the India Gate in the distance. That moment in time, you want to bottle it up. Never let it go.
It is Bombay now. Wet. Always wet. The sea is a dark dark something color, and the queen’s necklace glitters. I won’t call it a city of dreams or some crap like that. It is a city of grit. Of fighters. Storming bastions. Braving conditions. Getting their little victories. Someday it will be home. Someday I will storm my own bastion there.
And there is Calcutta, the first love. A city that I never understood. Perhaps could truly never be a part of. I could see Moidan, I could stand at the edges and imagine the life of a boy who lives in Garia, who comes here with friends to smoke up. I could see how this city can be enough for those it loves. Enough for those that love it. Its genuine love of food, its complete contemptuous indifference to appearances. Its book fair. Its prickly heat.
But then perhaps it is time to talk about where I am really from. Bhubaneshwar. I don’t think I ever owned up to it, till my boyfriend joked that ‘where you are really from, is the place you want to escape the most’. So yes perhaps I am from Bhubaneshwar. With its sleepy evenings, its beautiful parks, and more temples than you can count. Perhaps there is still a little girl there, who goes out for ice cream to Indira park. The Ram Mandir still stands tall there, I guess, and the Rasagulla’s must be amazing.
So there it is. That longing for the smells, sights sounds. The longing for the warmth of its people.
One can exorcise a ghost, how does one get rid of a country?