Where is this elusive place called home? It seems like I’ve been searching for it all my life. Growing up, I had two homes. I spent the early part of my childhood with my grandma, missing the company of my brother and hoping to live with my parents. My teenage years I spent with my parents and for the most part it felt like home. But I always knew I couldn’t live there forever. Marriage loomed large and I couldn’t shake off the uncertainty that came with it. Would I still live in Chennai or would I move to a different city in India? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d move to another country. A country so far away that you had to take two planes and travel across many time zones to get there!
That’s when the sickness began. This homesickness. But I think it was always there. This feeling of not belonging and wanting to be somewhere else. In the hope that ‘somewhere else’ would fill the gaping hole in my heart. But it never did. Some people can make a home anywhere and be happy anywhere. I do envy them. One friend said to me, “Where ever I am is home.” Wish I could say that!
Sometimes I think this whole alien conspiracy theory is true. Maybe I’m actually an alien from another planet who got left behind during a mission. They must have scrambled my memory because I have no idea who I am! There are days when people and the world makes no sense to me. I’m completely spaced out so to speak.
Then again maybe I have a memory of another lifetime when things were simple. When people mattered more than things or money. When mother earth was not taken for granted and everyone shared her bountiful resources. Maybe that’s the thing I’m missing. Maybe home no longer feels like home – a safe haven where you can be yourself and nurture yourself. Everything seems to have changed since I last visited. Much like the city I grew up in – Chennai. Every time I go there something has changed – new buildings, 10,000 new cars, people everywhere. So much so that the very vibe of the city has changed and it doesn’t feel like the place I grew up.
Going home, for me, is just a matter of booking tickets and boarding the right plane. Many others face the grim reality of never being able to go home or fearing for their safety when they travel to their homeland. One friend booked her tickets two weeks prior to the turmoil that erupted in her country. Now she fears for her family and would lose a lot of money if she cancels her tickets. My heart goes out to her. She just wants what I want – to spend the holidays with her family. I do hope and pray she can make it there safely and back.
For us going to India involves tackling visa issues, traffic, mosquitoes and the heat (in the summer). Our lives are not threatened nor our freedoms compromised. I did call this place home but over the years all the changes in me and in India make it feel less like home. The sad truth is no other place I’ve lived in feels even close to what Chennai felt like.
When I close my eyes and let my imagination fly, I can see that place. That place I would delight in calling home. The land is green. The people are smiling. Food is abundant. The smell of fresh earth mingles with the aroma of fresh vegetables stewing on a stove top. Children laugh and play. People come together and celebrate life everyday. They share and love and grow. Learn and teach. Worry and fear are alien emotions. Lack and disease, unheard of. Maybe I’m dreaming of Utopia. Maybe Utopia is the home I’m yearning for. And my quest continues…