There is no feeling like the countdown to going home.
‘Home.’ It’s a conflict-ridden word for me. Is it a place, a situation, a state-of-mind? When I am in Madras, I long to go back ‘home’, Mumbai. But I don’t really love Mumbai. Not in the way normal Mumbaikars do. I have all the qualities that can be found in a typical Mumbaikar – a crazy sense of punctuality, the do-or-die mentality, the ability to wriggle myself through any situation – pretty much like wriggling oneself through a quarter-inch space in the crowded ladies compartment in a local train. But I don’t feel ‘at home’ there. I can’t keep up with that pace, with that lifestyle. The rush always makes me feel something deep inside. ‘I want to go home’.
So, in that respect, Madras should be home, right? I love Madras. It has given me enough reasons and more to love it extra every day. The smell of medu-vadas on the road, the beach bajjis, the buses-that-take-you-anywhere-anytime, the theatre elite, the kutcheri season vayira mookuthi mamis, the Tam Brahm tamash’s and the Non-Brahm biriyanis. But no matter how much I love Madras, I don’t have a home here. Irrespective of whether I am at my grandparents’, my Amma-like dance teacher’s or at the awesome Jyashree’s, I still get that feeing. ‘I want to go home.’
All-in-all, one might conclude that I am, to put it mildly, homeless. Or perhaps going through a spiritual crisis.
However, someone then told me, ‘Pea. Home is where the heart is. -And if the heart is not sure, then where Amma-Appa are.’
It was so simple, I was surprised I hadn’t seen that earlier. Home is where Amma-Appa are. Where I can run into their warm hugs, where they can awkwardly push me away while I try to plant wet, sloppy kisses on them publicly, where we can fight about them unfairly usurping my room while I was away, where we can have long discussion about the future, the country, the universe and life – and then try to find logic behind my intense dislike for Okra. Home is where I can sleep at 3AM and not have a bath, not answer the door, not clean my cupboard, not look minty fresh all the time. Home is where I can be me – because Amma-Appa are the only people who will love me unconditionally in spite of that.
There is no feeling like the countdown to going home. I’m coming home, Amma-Appa. Leave your arms wide open.