Given to me by my daughter; very knowledgeable, very philosophical, very true to herself and yet so very filmy. If it was not for these words and the symbolic graphics, I doubt very much if I would have ventured out of Chennai, and into Mumbai. But as each journey foretells a destination and every voyage marks an end, so too, my time here is over. And like a traveller I move on.
I am bereft of words but am swimming in a sea of images. They start at my door at Chennai and take me to the early morning empty streets, to the aircraft windows, to the expansive blue-grey skies, warm waters of the Arabian Sea, to the sands of the Marine Drive, to the rain coated Gateway of India, to the lake in front of my apartment and they stop at the door of my apartment. And then dissipate into little clouds of thoughts that kept me company and often rain on me.
The many faces that I met and acquainted, my fellow co-travellers; some marveling at my perseverance, others calling me strange and some wondering out loud at my challenges. They all come back, flood my mind. Three years of journey seem small enough to carry in a small palm-sized drawstring bag, to be tugged open at will, not heavy to carry around. But, the moment the bag opens, the memories run away, helter-skelter, just outside the reach of my outstretched hands and fingertips. Some have run away, never to be caught again, some have come back bigger than before, more important than before; maybe they were very important and I never gave them the importance they deserved and now they are fighting for their right and yet others, that have become a cocoon that I surround myself with, their warmth providing me with hope and strength.
Three years seem nothing, just about a 1000 nights, sort of a magical mystery adventure of 1001 Arabian nights.
How do I collect the memories, how do I arrange them, how do I string them together in a rosary, so that every time I run my fingers on them, they are meditative, thoughtful and ruminative. The three years have taught me much, they have also taken a life of their own, they calmed me down yet they also gave me much angst. My reflections, as emotional as they are, are also very crumpled. And as I look for the torment, in all crevices, in all wrinkled corners, in all creased furrows, in deep recesses of my mind, I come out blank. It is just not there, or maybe I had put it out, maybe it will come and catch me off guard, fill me with an unexplained regret, fear, but for now, it is not to be found. It could be the impending joy of going home, to my family, not being a vagabond anymore, not having to wake up at an unearthly 2.30 am every Monday morning, taking a cab, the dark, deserted roads, standing in long security lines, long and tedious on the body and to the mind, navigating the lines to the aircraft, the same persistent safety drill, the plastic smiles, the unfocused eyes of the overly made-up young girls on the plane, doing a mechanical job, unconcerned and undisturbed, their indifference enviable, my insignificance to them visible, the unending circling at Mumbai, trying to find order in chaos, a landing strip found, in the middle of a hundred other aircrafts, waiting to touchdown and bring thousands of seekers to a vacant and vacuous city like Mumbai.
And the reverse, every weekend. For three years. I did it. Why I did it, what made me, why did I not walk away, and what did I hope to find and finally, what did I actually understand?
I understood this.
Kahin pe pahunchne ke liye kahin se nikalna bahut zaroori hota hai.
And now I am going home.