As I once again return to the area which I know like the back of my hand, there is a conflict of emotions.
I feel elated to be back but also experience a sinking feeling that this area is no longer mine. I have spent most of my life here and moved away only recently. I know which shop to go to for the best deals and what’s more, the shop keeper knows my shopping preferences. Here I know lots of people by sight. The old man walking by works at the BWSSB kiosk. He is grouchy but there is a gentle side to him. The lady in the red house draws beautiful Rangolis. She knows who my children are and what time I visit the park. These sundry little details give us a sense of each other and even though we have never exchanged a word, there is a comforting familiarity. I miss this sense of belonging in the new locality.
People move houses all the time. They go from city to city and to different countries. Many don’t have a choice. For some of us who make the choice willingly or knowingly, why is it still difficult? Why do we let our roots spread around and run so deep that the thought of uprooting is scary and the actual uprooting painful? There are those who fully identify with my predicament “It took us two years to settle in the new house” said one friend, “but subsequently, we wonder how we stayed at the earlier house.”
There are others who can’t understand why I should feel bad about a move which is apparently for the better. “You are loath to get out of your comfort zone. You should have a surgical severance, otherwise you will not be able to uproot yourself” chided another clinical friend. All the talk of uprooting reminded me of some of the road side trees transported for the Metro project which failed to thrive even in the environs of a star hotel. No, no, I will fare better than those trees, I consoled myself. Revisiting old places and memories is not good when you are trying to establish new roots. And how do you grow new roots? By establishing contacts and routines. So I drop in at the neighbour’s house for a chat, start taking morning walks and also plant a few saplings for good measure. I also hope that the next time I revisit my old place, there is more of nostalgia and less of a sinking feeling.