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Monday, 23 July 2012

My Home - Lost and Found

A few days ago, work required me to travel to my old city, my birthplace. At first I felt a strange lack of proclivity towards revisiting the city where I was born and raised. It felt indeed very odd, not to sense the quintessential joy, normally felt upon being offered an opportunity to walk down memory lane. I concealed that oddity and thought better than sharing it with anyone. Frankly, I was embarrassed deep down. I was feeling almost ashamed of myself for not feeling any longing for a place where I grew to become what I am. The whole night I kept loathing myself for the insensitive person that I have reduced into. Or may be a part of me had not forgotten what I had suffered at that place. When we had left the city almost five years ago, it was sort of an escape from perpetual humiliation and dejection. It had to be the only plausible explanation for such a startling erosion of affection. An ominous sensation, a looming fear that comes intertwined with its biggest symbol. The sadness and degradation comes to haunt me every time that place is mentioned to my ears. The greater sad part is that before the miseries began unfolding and also even for quite a substantial duration thereafter, while multiple distresses were being perpetrated by the powers that be, I had lived the most memorable moments of my life there.

A series of five speed breaking road humps jolted me out of my trance and I noticed that I was on the last bridge  before the southern perimeter of the city. I pulled down the window panes despite past experience of headache and sinus attacks. The gusts of wind born of the river flanking the city unmistakably persuaded me to reminisce the good old days of my life. I forgot all the darkness which I feared would surround me under broad daylight. As we entered the city, the velocity of our vehicle was forced to drastic reduction by the debilitating traffic, and there I found my first memory. I recalled my father presaging me by saying that I would never truly learn driving as long as I don't drive in the thick traffic of our city during the peak hour of the day. What I saw from thereon opened a window of a long shut space within me. As I was guided through, softly held by the tip of my index finger.



When I saw my school I recalled how I managed to  finish my schooling of twelve years in the same school but struggled miserably in my twelfth board exams. The playground area where we offered countless prayers in chorus and heard zillion sermons. Then I noticed the nearby medical college, whose best memories remain etched in the form of heart numbing glimpses of truly 'beautiful' doctors. During the age of raging hormones it could be a very difficult place to spend nearly eight hours of your day, since every other lady I saw coming out of it, appeared worthy of my heart. The tragedy was that some of them already had boyfriends and for the rest I could simply never summon the courage. My law school wasn't far away. I did my law just near the place where lived my high school sweetheart. Though by then we had broken up and she had discovered truer love elsewhere. I saw her house. I'd seen it so many times, under the scorching sun and blinding rain just to catch a glimpse of her vague moving silhouette beyond the curtains. The roads, the traffic islands, joints, the cinema halls where I fell in love, again and again. Not only with some unforgettable people but with places, moments & indulgences to the point of addiction. There was this place where we friends hung out. There is a colloquial term ascribed to it. It's called "Khatti". I remember braving gales and torrents and chilly winters to make it in time to 'khatti'. I had made some wonderful friends here. Friends who would go far away later in life leaving only nostalgia in my custody . It was the city where I learnt to ride my grandfather's bicycle and my father's scooter. When I fell, people who I never knew came to pick me up and gave me smart tips to ride better. The best part was that the next time when we ran into each other, both of us would pause momentarily, thinking whether the other remembers the last meeting, before finally smiling away at each other's face.

The fast food vendor at my college gate did not think twice before letting me and my friends feast away on credit. We were showered with his elderly affection in shape of liberty to pay as and when we liked. When one of my friends made it big in college placement, he did not forget to touch the vendor's feet who reciprocated with his sincere blessings. It's the place where I have received unconditional love and deep hatred alike. I've been adored and whistled at by pals all along the street from home to my college in consistent display of camaraderie.I have also been in stupid, regretful fist fights and have been hounded by armed hooligans. I've had the fortunate company of friends who did not budge anywhere without me and others who got up and walked away at the very mention of my name. I have been adored & respected, looked down upon, betrayed and back stabbed in the days I spent in this city. I bagged my maiden professional engagement and earned my first income here. I've been called 'worthless' by my teachers and been given an "EXCELLENT - AA" remark by my the then boss upon drafting my first ever petition for a Court Case. In this city I wrote my first love letter, my first prize winning essay and my worst answer papers ever. In one of its oldest galleries I fought my fear of public speaking and indulged in my first ever overt oratory. I learnt to smoke and gulped my first mug of beer here. I ran every year to the Mahanadi river barrage near my house to see it's brim and the crowd swelling together. I experienced my maiden kiss and the agonizing sweet numbness of first love in its serene winter.


When I finally drifted to my old house, I found that it had lost much of its familiar identity. But the moment I peeped into the backyard and saw the trees and the overgrown grass surrounding them, a rainbow of memories filled me with glorious images of my life's long departed days. I felt melancholy slowly creeping into my heart . Something snapped, but I held myself together. I didn't want to embarrass myself by being moist eyed and all, before strangers. Though I doubt that they missed my urge. So many afternoons of my childhood, I'd spent under the shade of those twin trees. They weren't just trees anymore. That had blended into human form looking at me through tears, fraught with age. As if to say that I betrayed them by abandoning them in their last days. All I could do was move my hands reassuringly over their weary trunks to convey how sincerely I wanted at that moment, to relinquish everything and play a game of hide and seek under their shades. The saplings that my father had made me plant then, had grown into handsome young trunks decorated with enviable branches and lush leaves. I felt content with what they looked like. Finally as tired birds returned to their abodes on their higher parts, I felt glad that my trees are not lonely after all. On the way back through the clustered lanes of my old residence I saw the temple from where penetrating conch shell sound used to wake me up early every morning, its purity demystifying the anxieties of the night and where God's deity alone knew my deepest yearnings all through out my adolescence.



I returned with dusk but not before having "Dahi Vada Aloo Dum", the customary spicy Odia delicacy. (I've always considered it Odisha's answer to Chinese Fast Food for which it was my regular breakfast / brunch during college days.) And not before realizing that I've not gotten over and probably never will get over the love for my hometown. It's where I was born and became the person that I'm today.


43 comments:

  1. Nice one. Couldn't help myself reading it ...

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  2. Erosion of affection, as you say, for one's place of growing up is indeed difficult to handle. After all, no matter what the reasons for the disenchantment, the place still remains the witness to some of our most innocent and carefree days. But such erosions, as you yourself discovered not long back, are superficial. It is impossible, I believe, to not have some vestiges of yearning at the very least for one's place of birth. You have depicted both the sides eloquently. The pangs of guilt, the nostalgic musings, the reemergence of old feelings...all make for a handsome memoir.
    Also the little little details made for delightful reading. I'm just back from home, in Odisha if you remember, after a 2 month summer vacation and the mention of 'Dahi Vada Aloo Dum' made me envy your good fortune as there's no way I can get it here.

    One line I found extremely poignant-
    "They weren't just trees anymore. That had blended into human form looking at me through tears, fraught with age. As if to say that I betrayed them by abandoning them in their last days." Terrific.

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    1. Yeah I remember Sudha.

      Thanks for reading "My Home - Lost & Found". It was really difficult to control my sentiments while writing it. You of all people are in the unique position to appreciate what I've depicted.

      About the Dahi Vada aloo dum..I'd put up a lovely picture of it but pulled it down.

      About the line regarding trees, I know how I controlled myself when I was standing there.

      Thanks for reading & appreciating my sentiments. Kind souls like you somehow dispel my notions that I'm alone in certain ventures.

      Regards,
      Anupam

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  4. an excellent and soul-touching post.. you wrote your true feelings here.. really some memories are soothing and painful at the same time..

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  5. Again very good work...Keep writing !

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  6. Visiting your hometown or the places you grew up after a gap usually bring forth such nostalgia. Seeing the places you used to frequent being replaced or torn down to make way for new buildings/monuments and what not always fill you with a sense of dread. Probably because it reminds us of what we are and what will happen to us all - our mortality and life passing us by without even a semblance of a hat-tip!

    You've written wonderfully well.

    Would you like to do guest blogs on our site as well? Do reply via email to admin(at)manipalblog.com.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words. I'm equally thankful for your invitation to write guest post on your blog. Frankly I don't even know what guest blogging is and how it's done except of course an obvious suggestion by its name to the effect, that I'll write something on your site.

      Just let me know the details and I'd be glad to be a guest writer on MB.

      Regards,

      Anupam

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  7. Lovely trip down nostalgia lane

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  8. Wow! That just took me down memory lane. Good work....

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  9. I felt similar emotions when I visited a place I spent part of my childhood in recently. I found the roads that I enjoyed walking in so much to be narrower and claustrophobic, the eats to be stale, the town to be shabbier... Till I realised that it was my perspective that had changed and not the town. It was only then that I was able to enjoy my visit.

    I have lived in 7 different places growing up and have visited only 3 as an adult. I wonder everyday how the other places are now.

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    1. Yeah I can totally relate to what you must have felt and are feeling these days. Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences.

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  10. A great write. I like and wishing U for the esteemed writing. Best wishes.

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  11. An emotional take on days gone by. Well done!!!

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  12. It seemed like I was accompanying you on that trip down memory lane. Excellent narration. :)

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    1. Thank You Jayashree for reading this.

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  13. after reading ..i started feeling homesickness.
    nice one ...
    hey,plz see my first cartoon.hope you will like it.

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    1. Thanks for reading Gunjan and I'll most definitely see your cartoon work.

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  14. Vow! what a writing. I do not think there is any one who read it cannot relate with your own emotions and feelings of loss. We are all facing this loss in one or other form. I have left my home when i got married, then lived in many countries. Each time I left a home I felt that I had left a part of my life- the marks of our children's first foot steps, their school books even their beloved toys. And now they cannot even go back to those places because they are far away countries. And even now we are in another country. Now our children are grown up employed in another town. The story continues. And that is why your story made my eyes go wet.
    But that is life. You are not alone:))

    http://weddingsandmarriages.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks Prasanna for your very supportive gesture. Thanks for assuring me that I'm not alone in experiencing this.

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  15. This was so wonderful to read, Anupam...it has a strange combination of strength and delicacy. Honestly, home is where the heart is...:)Immaculate narration...!

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    1. Thank You Panchali. Thanks for all your kind words

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  16. Fantastic Anupam. Made me nostalgic too.
    Its one thing to pen down what you feel. But if that makes an impact to the reader, then you are a successful writer. I know you are one. And thanks for your support to me too. -rgs

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  17. excellent work :) liked ur blog vei much!!

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    1. Thank You Palak. "Castle of Words" is no less an experience.

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  18. Detailed and nostalgic. The way you have highlighted moments is quite a treat to read. And the images add a touch of old world charm to it.

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  19. wow!! so touchy and interesting too. I could not stop myself from reading this whole post :)

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  20. I guess home is always home in our hearts, it just numbs out but never truly dies! Nice read.

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  21. heyy.. thats so nice. :) liked the way you described everything :)

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