I felt homesick. Sick to my gut a couple of times but mostly just exhausted from dealing with this emptiness. I arrived very late for my morning literature class. My professor asked me, “Are you unwell, Seema?” I was stunned. What could I say? Was homesickness a real thing?
I nodded. Finally.
“Oh! What happened?”
“I feel homesick.”
“I can’t send you to the nurse for that, Seema. You will have to suffer through this class then.”
I slunk into my chair and for the rest of the hour just twiddled my thumbs. The professor didn’t pull me up for my distracted behaviour. At the end of the hour, I was still lost in my own thought. I lived at home. It had a roof, a few walls and warmth. For the most part. It kept me safe from cold and rains.
But I was homesick.
I read about home and imagined it in ways like it didn’t exist. Not like mansion like in the fairy tales or the ones filled with hope. Just this one didn’t meet my expectations and I longed to go to places or be places where this sickness in my gut vanished. Even momentarily. I travelled in this hope. To other towns, villages, beaches, mountains and no woman or man’s land. Constantly searching for a glimpse of home.
Have I missed it somewhere here? In the arrogance of home being anywhere but here?
My refusal to do certain things, behave a certain way was always questioned. Both at home and outside.
Off late, the resistance has increased. I cannot explain what changed. For I don’t know and I find it impossible to deduce. Both at home and outside.
It possibly, couldn’t be the same thing. But my frustrations are building and I am showing them visibly. I was always very cautious with what I said. I couldn’t control my temper. Most statements came floating out of me without any control on my behalf. This has changed. Both at home and outside.
I am learning to articulate my angst, channel my temper and only fight battles worth fighting. Sometimes, though, my anger seethes and erupts. I scream for no one listens otherwise. The audience gets uncomfortable, the become more rigid and scream in response. Both at home and outside.
But the process is slow and the peaks of frustration come close together. Neither feels sacred anymore. And I am only now learning to politicise and problematicise both. The end result is a difficult situation and I am gasping for air.
He lived there alone for two full years. It was a lovely home. He decorated it with memories; he bought so many books he didn’t have cupboards to fit them; he cooked and cooked till others could eat his cooking too. The house itself was tiny and modest. It did have a fridge which was a luxury for him. The fridge was mostly stocked with beer, some vegetables and cheese. He missed it all at this point. Not the other difficult moments that house saw him through (a miserable job), but the peaceful, inspirational and happy memories it brought.
Cochin was a rough and tough period in his life. Having that home, those four walls gave him strength even on the worst days. It provided him a safe place, a cocoon and a freedom he hadn’t known till then. He had lived at home with his clothes magically getting clean, never having to clean up and a hot meal when he returned home. It was hard at first. But it got better.
He was mostly happy within those walls. He left the madness of the world outside, the demands of his angry boss and it felt okay. With the move in cities and jobs, his living conditions changed again. He was back to living at home, like a king. A lot changed for the better but he still ached for what that home gave him. A unique kind of freedom and control over his life. Up until then, he never had it. It was the first house where he lived without any support; it was a breath of fresh air.
He remembered his last five minutes in that home. He felt a deep sense of loss. Like he had said goodbye to a dear friend, a confidante, a care-giver.
He felt that pain all over again as he stared at his cupboard full of books. He missed his home.