October 1, 2013

America. What do I say?

Particularly now, as I am somewhere in the air, approximately 1 hour 17 minutes away from the motherland,before I land at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Mixed emotions all around, as you can imagine. The beautiful is calling, with people I love, a new (hopefully exciting) job, and the life I used to know and be perfectly content with. Or as content as I can be at any rate. And yet somehow it all feels different somehow. Is two months enough time to forget where one comes from? And if it is, what, exactly does that say about this person? Was Islamabad ever really home? Or was it just a pit-stop in a life-long journey of destinations? If so, then where next?

When I set out two months ago on my crazy-impromptu-adventure, I had no idea what I wanted. Okay, to be fair I had even less of an idea of what I wanted than I usually do. I knew that circumstances had finally allowed me to be free of a job I had a love-much,hate-much relationship with. I knew that I was itching to leave the motherland for a while. I knew I wanted to decide what to do next – another job? That much awaited PhD application? Something else? Most importantly, I think I just wanted to ‘be’ for a while. I managed to achieve all that (I think), and much-much more. I was going to write a city-by-city account of my trip, but half-way through the writing I got bored with myself and decided to spare you the misery. Let me, instead, share a little about what I’ve learned along this journey.
  • That one of the most wonderful feelings in the world is the whole-lot-of-love you feel when a three-year old runs into your arms and snuggles in, then demands that you read her a story. And then read it again. That there is nothing more entertaining, and more exhausting, than being the full focus of a toddler’s need for attention. That the inventive imagination and sheer hard work required to get a child to successfully finish her meal leads to a sense of achievement that rivals the completion of any tough work deadline.
  • That the best balm to heal the wounds of lost friendship is the realization that the ones you do have, cherish you as much as you do them. And that many of them have imperceptibly transitioned to family-status. That you are intensely grateful that you have so many people in your life who love you. That you have been blessed, and you need to remember that.
  • That there is nothing more intimate than watching a friend go through labor, and nothing that makes you feel quite as helpless knowing there is really nothing you can do to stop the pain except for deliver copious amounts of coconut water and maybe distract her with stories of ‘lol-boy’ encounters. That you have never come across anything terrifyingly beautiful as the process of giving birth to another life. That you wonder if you will ever have the courage to go through what she has gone just gone through. And then, as you hold a baby hours after he has entered this world, look into the wizened-old-man-face and suddenly you know without a doubt that you do.
  • That nobody really knows what’s going to happen in the future. Yes, there is a possibility that I will have to reconcile myself to playing doting aunt for a whole lot of kids. But no premonition of forever-alone-ness is compelling enough to make me say yes to someone who does not feel right. That it takes courage to tactfully handle awkward situations, and that there is a reason why all these trite-break-up-phrases were invented in the first place. Also, when all is said and done sometimes it's true - it's not you, it's me. And that one more bullet point has been added to the list of non-negotiable qualities I want in a man: He must be able to make a bus wait for me. *bus* (pun, in case you are wondering, totally intended)
  • That meeting old friends after so long, and seeing where they have chosen to nest is a wonderful feeling. That you feel happy, for everyone, and you wish them nothing but the best in the future. That everyone you know has done very well for themselves, and are well on their way to reaching their goals. That they are happy, and that you are very, very happy for them. You also affirm what you already knew, perhaps: that comparisons are pointless, that in its own way, your life is as fulfilled as everyone else’s. That when you tell them what-you-have-been-upto for the past four years, you feel proud of yourself, and that you realize what a long way you also have travelled.
  • That no matter how many other beautiful places you go,your heart will always skip a beat when you see the New York City skyline. That returning to NYC is the happiest-of-happy, and the saddest-of-sad. You also realize that you are a bit of a nostalgia-coward. That while you’re perfectly happy re-living happy times, spending oodles of time with old friends, re-discovering your one-time-home, you do not have the courage to step inside I.House. You pass by many a times, resolve that you will come back, go inside and poke around to see what has changed and what stays the same, but you can’t. And that surprises you.
  • That everything is a metaphor for life. Particularly a lonely duck paddling away in the calm waters of a small lake in front of the Bellagio, not knowing that any second now the fountains will explode in a screaming-storm of sound and color. That this duck, who we spent quite a bit of time looking around for after the storm had passed, was most assuredly me. 
  • That every day holds the possibility of a new adventure. That life has to be lived with arms open, embracing everything the fates choose to throw at you. Because people who sit on the back-seats with their arms-crossed generally miss out on the whole point of the show. That your whole life can change, and unalterably, in a single moment. That sometimes destiny is all about whether you decide to get on a plane – or not.
And there is so much more to say. To think, to feel, to absorb. And plenty of time to do it all now that the whirlwind vacation is over and I’m back in the land-of-the-pure. Hello, motherland. It’s nice to meet you again. Aage, aage dekhte hain, hota hai kya :)


Naveed said...

You better write a book in your lifetime. Believe me it will sell.

Xeb said...


That was one of the many plans. Let's hope it comes through someday :)