The yearning to go back to the place I once called home has been deepening, solidifying into something tangible in my body. When writers and poets talk about the pull of the land, I feel it these days, the weight, the tactile feeling of being attached to land, smells and, the memories they bring with them. I browse pictures, I let myself drown in nostalgia knowing those places and memories are only in the recesses of my brain.
In the past two days, I have been wrangling with a spreadsheet that neatly pits the dates we are in India against the places we want to be in and, the people. People whom we want to spend time with and people who want to spend time with us. Sometimes, the sets intersect, often they do not.
My initial list had places I intimately identify with. The cities that feature the most when I think of childhood. Yet, the home I once lived in no longer exists, the place in my head bears no resemblance to what it is now. The people in my pictures and thoughts have morphed too. Some have drifted too far apart, some have chosen to sever ties and a few others have disappeared.
I think of the school(s) I went to, the college where some of the most pleasant memories in my life (now immortalized in words in an yet to be published book) were formed and, the places that feature some of the saddest moments in my then life and realize that those places are myth. They exist only in figments of my imagination. What exists in real life are pale imitations where only whispers of the ghosts past float, disembodied and lacking depth.
I look back at the spreadsheet. painstakingly remove each entry, paying homage as I do. I create a new list, one future looking and touristy, devoid of emotion. I find a new kind of joy in this process of creating new memories to replace old, fading ones. I pencil in places with people who call out to me. I add notes to remind me of the unexpected blessings. I leave one column empty, with a bland heading that says “Notes”. I do this to have a space for me to come back and leave digital footprints for my children to follow or perhaps someday remind me of why Home is never a physical space.
I hope to find bits of home, pieces of a past me wherever I go. I fully intend to speak into the wind, blow my words to mix in with the lost dreams from decades ago. Then, when I am back to the place I call home now, I will look skyward and imagine that the wisps of clouds are congealed hopes and words, forming puzzles for me to decode.
I will forever remain a soul searching for home.