Conversations 15: The Search for Home

The new phase in my life has well and truly began. Not that all the bits in the new life has fallen in place yet and some work from my past, mostly assessments related to the teaching works I have done earlier, is still pending, but the shift in my lifestyle is distinct. I am back in the UK for a few days, but in less than a week, I go to Madrid and then on a two week journey to India, Philippines, Singapore and Dubai. 

Such opportunity to travel should be fun, but this being the second time in my life, there is less excitement. In fact, I am wiser, with a clear view of what this life entails clearly in my mind.

Poverty Jet Set: A group of people given to chronic traveling at the expense of long-term job stability or a permanent residence. Tend to have doomed and extremely expensive phone-call relationships with people named Serge or Ilyana. Tend to discuss frequent-flyer programs at parties. (Douglas Coupland: Generation X)

For me, rather, this is an opportunity to connect to India. But this is perhaps more than (or less than) going home. This is one of the things one gets to learn when living abroad for a long time: Not to call a place home too easily. A migrant waits for home - home grows on him - rather than let it be set by some kind of accident, such as just being in some odd place at a given time. For them, us, home is something we make. My engagements with India is an attempt to make a home, rather than just going back.

This is a very strange undertaking indeed - to let the country one was born in become itself home. This may sound arrogant to those who never left, but once one has escaped the accident of being born in one place, and constructed an identity elsewhere, home means something else. This means a set of relationship that gives meaning to one's work, and life. This sense of belonging, for those who left, is not to be taken for granted. This comes out of love, a love that needs to be discovered. In that sense, I am in that quest for love.

This is a far cry from the world of jet set though. But, paradoxically, I find belonging in India just because I live a life otherwise. In work, people seem to value me just because I don't live there. Ditto in life: My value comes from not being there. Someone even told me - don't come back as we can talk about you because you are abroad. As I search for home, the quest is for a place where one is valued for his own person, without having to do anything, without having to be anything. This, by definition, though, a never-ending enterprise.

Writing helps. It is almost therapeutic in the elusive quest of home. I change what I write about - how I write too - and also what I read. I rediscover literature as I travel, a lost love. I get back to the novels, after many years of devoting my reading hours to all kinds of serious books. I say, I am not trying to be one up anymore. I am not seeking ideas anymore, I am not looking for arguments. I kneel down to myself, broken, unfit, melancholy, confused me, after coming around the world in search for home and not finding one: Then, sink myself into a beautiful book, a carefully crafted story. Words take me by hand and they don't ask questions: They ferry me to a different time and a different sensibility, one of honour, of belonging, of a story. And, in that illusive world of words, I belong: I find home. No qualifications, anyone is invited there. I stay.


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