I've lived away from home for a little over 2 years now. In that time, I've come across in interesting type of non-resident Punekar. Without fail, 99 % of this mob, on discovering our common bond, will switch to Marathi from whatever language they were attempting to slaughter. They will then proceed to badmouth all and sundry in the vicinity. Gradually, the chatter will begin to noticeably lose steam. Enthusiasm will be replaced by uncertainty. Eyes will proceed to narrow at the less-than-satisfactory quality of Marathi being intermittently offered by moi'. Questions concerning heritage will be bandied about and the hiss of indrawn breaths will rent the air when no relation to long-departed Maratha worthies on my side is evinced. The social death knell will most likely be the discovery that I speak Tamil.
Further events will depend on how vindictive I'm feeling at the time. I confess that I do sympatize with this lot. After all, they can hardly be blamed for the fact that their ancestors' sexual proclivities favoured the local beasts of burden. One cannot fight one's genes, no ? When I read the dailies and see articles devoted to MNS rhetoric and activity, especially in Pune... well, let us just say that the rest of this post is dedicated to the remaining 1 %.
"I am going home". I say these words to myself a few times a day; sometimes out loud, sometimes not and often the words and individual letters dance around in my head of their own accord. I should be happy. I am happy. But it's not the happiness I felt in December 2007. I could not encapsulate that joy into words even if I were a good writer.
Yes, I know... it cannot be the same as last time. But, I'm going home to Pune & I know I should feel something more. I've brought it down to one of two possibilities. Uno - I've begun to accept the fact that I will be coming back home only on holiday for some time to come. Dos - I look at myself & and wonder how much I have achieved or changed for the better since the last time I said goodbye.
Those of us, who have loved the city and left, take with us something that is intensely personal and buried deep. Something the ravages of time cannot touch. We need that 'something' because there will be moments; as we attend lectures in classrooms, or whilst pretending to work in offices, maybe even while hanging around in unnamed pubs or walking unknown streets... a thousand places in a million cities. The moment will always preceded by something innocuous. The ghost of an image, a haunting scent, a tantalizing aftertaste, a dying note... and we will not be able to help it. Our heads will tilt just a fraction. An unfathomable gleam will drift across our eyes. The hint of an upward curl will appear at the corner of our mouths. Time will be of no consequence. We will be dreaming of home.
Of black road and blue sky, sepia-stained scenes of people & places... private moments locked in defining images that we cannot remember capturing but hold on to, regardless. A helpless sigh will escape. A numbing tiredness will threaten to overwhelm. The reverie will fade like the last delicious vestige of sleep on a late winter afternoon. Then we will grin.
Because something will not have changed... will never change.
And with that thought in mind, we will go on living.
I'm still unsure of my feelings, but hey... I'm going home.
Song for the moment: Everybody's Talkin' - Harry Nilsson