I’m usually a real home-bird. That will surprise a lot of people who know me because I spend so little time in my house. But that’s a place with four walls. The fact is that I have a strong attachment to places, especially those with memories. I relate to places almost the way I do, with people. Leaving a place feels like a part of me is getting torn away, much like parting with a loved one. And being in a new place, much like meeting a new person, fills me with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. Apprehension since the new experience is so different from the ones I’m used to. Excitement over the very same thing. And oh, actually a new place (and a new person) always remind me of why I love home so much (or the people in my life). Travelling has always been a learning experience and one that ends with the exuberant feeling of “I’m home!!!!”.
I travelled to London this week. It is my first trip out of the continent. And for a long time now, I’ve looked forward to visiting the land of Enid Blyton, the Beatles, P G Wodehouse, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones. The first thing I felt when I walked out of Heathrow was the cold, crisp air on my face (bundled up as I was everywhere else). And then the thought that I finally understood the meaning of ‘cold, crisp air’.
I got a lot of work done, met a lot of people from different countries. It was interesting. But something was missing. What? The apprehension. And the excitement. I wasn’t a bit nervous as I usually am with new people. I didn’t develop stage-fright even as I made a presentation to a panel of the top management. And would you believe it….I was dressed in an orange pullover and jeans in a roomful of suits and business skirts. It wasn’t intentional but situational…but I can’t believe how easily I breezed through it, unflinchingly. I did fret a bit about it to my friend, but really I was more worried about the fact that I wasn’t worried. Isn’t that odd now? Either I cared a helluva lot for what I was going to say (too much to worry about other things) or I didn’t care a damn about anything. I still can’t decide.
And oddly enough, when I touched down at Mumbai airport, walking down to customs, I realised there was something missing. Passport…check. Baggage tag…check. Backpack, purse, mobile phone….all in place. Ah.
I didn’t feel excited about being home.
I wasn’t sad about being home. I wasn’t happy. I just didn’t feel a thing. No more “I’m home!!!!” feeling. And then it occurred to me….I don’t feel like I’m home. I actually squinted out into the sunshine to check that I had, indeed gotten onto the right flight to the right place. Everything looked right. But it doesn’t feel like home.
I don’t know what or where home is anymore. All this is, now is a place with most of my memories and people I love. But home is a feeling, not a place. One I haven’t had in a long while.
I fly far and I fly wide
But I always come back home
This time, I flew out
But I haven’t come home
Because I don’t remember what home looks like or feels like
Could I maybe come back to the place I took off from
And find you waiting there
And perhaps find that home is indeed,
where the people who make you happy, are?
Will you be the home I come back to?
Also cross-posted on IFSHA.