Some time last month, we guys noticed a few wisps of dried grass and twigs on the porch-light outside our front door. It was attributed to some messy bird and we left it at that. As the days went by, those random blades of grass began to take shape and before the week was out, the builder of what was now a very pretty nest, had settled down to do whatever birds do in nests. Initially, the spot she chose seemed to be a terrible decision; people would waltz in and out at all hours & the bird naturally flew off every time the door was opened. Which was often, so I'm rather surprised she didn't attack anyone out of sheer exasperation.
Eventually (yes, yes Pavlov... you have been vindicated. Stop with the victory jig, already!!) she was convinced that none of the shady looking specimens approaching were interested either in her or anything else that may be in the nest (we haven't checked). These days, the bird doesn't even bother to move when anyone shows up, preferring to regard us with a baleful eye, leaving even the most thick-skinned chap with a few stirrings of guilt for even considering the sacrilegious deed of door-opening. Where is this story going, you ask ? Well...
It's the last hour of my final day at work before I push off to Cambodia for my internship during which time I'll be away from UAB and the U.S for more than half a year. Two complete seasons.
While past posts may have indicated my lack of enthusiasm for this sort of employment and my life here, today I am left with ambivalent feelings. I have worked here for over a year, which is a sort of record among the Indian students here at UAB. In this time, there have been days when the amount and type of work has left me muttering expletives under my breath and days when I have fallen asleep in deference to the somnolent air around this place. I have not been a fan of coming to work at 8:00 am, still drowsy and dishevelled and neither have I appreciated the idea of my room mates and friends enjoying impromptu games of afternoon-cricket whilst I watch the coffee in the pot evaporate.
However, the fact of the matter is that this job saved me. At the time I applied to work here, I was desperate for funds (that scourge of the Indian grad student) and after a few travails, I was hired. Little did I know how many charming, witty, hilarious, eccentric and importantly, friendly people I'd meet. It helped that I worked hard and sincerely whenever required. But the faculty & staff did not have to go out of their way to be as chummy & amicable as they have been.
My room mates and friends - the ones referred to locally as the 'headquarter gang'... I'll miss some of them too, even though they can be and often are, quite infuriating. I remember writing a long time ago that room mates are important because they take the place of family. That seems never more true than it does today when I am almost overwhelmed by stray memories and incidents that are forever part of me. And I know with utter conviction that there had to be something else in the air in August 2006 that brought us together...the looniest of the lot of Indian students that live in the Southside of Birmingham.
Ultimately, it is not just the job, colleagues, friends or the other people that I'm sad to be leaving behind. It is that feeling of regularity, of continuity... that rhythm. It may seem monotonous to the precious few readers of this blog, but I value it and appreciate it, especially in contrast to the professional and personal uncertainty that looms over me now. Mind you, I'm not doing a U-turn on my opinions about Birmingham; its a boring city and there have been many occasions when I wondered what twisted fate brought me here. Room mates and friends have given plenty of angst amidst the jamboree. Still, I'm not exactly mortified by the experiences of the last two years.
The people, my house, the university... everything will continue to exist, even after I'm on that flight to Phnom Penh. Time will leave its mark and the headquarter gang will split up forever, each individual pursuing their destiny, scattering away like a handful of marbles. Someone new will be hired to work at the department of Communication Studies. The Justice Sciences department will have new students enrolling in a few months.
For the last couple of days I have slowed down as I approached the front door to my house and spent a few moments contemplating that nest and its occupant. At this instant, I envy that bird, the sangfroid with which she knows she does not have to fly off anymore.
All I'll be left with are the memories. And packed bags.
And will fly off just when the nest I built here seemed to be getting cozy.
Song for the moment: Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve