Writing a post after a really long time and I guess the credit for that would go to Divs & T for subconsciously making me want to write when I saw how regularly they updated their blogs. If either of you read this, let it be known that you guys are awesome! And I shall continue to dearly love your blogs- T for the way I can relate to what you write and Divs for always coming up with a topic or a perspective or a way of writing that's uncommon!
And now that the little Oscar-worthy gratitude speech ( T & Divs, I STILL meant what I said) is out of the way, I might as well get down to writing a post. For all those people I kept promising to write mails to, but which I'm yet to get down to doing [either because of lack of time or just plain old Ananya-ness (i.e., being lazy & procrastinating)], this is the first step in that direction. The actual mail with all the little ramblings and 'juicy' bits will hopefully follow soon! (hopeful smile)
For a while, I kept wondering what to write and then it was time for Diwali so figured I might as well write about my first Diwali away from home. Spent the last diwali on campus and while I was in the midst of the celebrations, a number of thoughts hit me at different points of time, so have decided to put some of them down. Not sure how much of an interesting read this would make later, but I guess it's a good way to break the non-writing hex.
So what was it like to celebrate Diwali away from home? A lot of people keep asking me if I was homesick or whether I've finally gotten used to the place and all that. This is something I'm yet to come to terms with. When I got here, I did fee the initial twinge of homesickness when my parents left, but since then have been quite happy here. I've never had this sudden longing to go home (except when I fell sick and missed my Mom or when I think of my dogs). I guess the fact that we're kept busy most of the time helps keep us occupied. But anyway, that's besides the point at this moment so shall stick to talking about Diwali.
For me Diwali started when I woke up that morning and went on a huge cleaning spree. For heaven's sake, I not only swept, mopped and dusted my room, I also washed the mats! And yes, I generally keep things neat and clean (much to poor Arati's- my roomie- relief), but this time I did go one step extra. And this is when the first thoughts of home hit me. At home, these things are just taken for granted. Now, I've never been much of a festival person. Every time I've just woken up and done what I'd been asked to. But, here for the first time I was responsible to myself for celebrating the festival and Diwali & Holi are usually big festivals at home. This would probably be one of those moments when I feel the independence. Usually, at home all I need to do is get ready in time in appropriate clothing, but here I actually found myself trying to remember what all my Mom does at home and trying to replicate it as best as I could. I went ahead and cleaned and made all those family calls (and anyone would vouch for the fact that I'm not too good at the keeping in touch bit and am not much of a phone person at all). But, for the first time I had to try and remember who all had to be called up and what to say to each of them without having to be reminded by my parents. And it felt good. This is when it struck me that (for me, at least) independence was not about learning how to spend money wisely or keeping accounts or making decisions. For me, I've felt more independent when I had to learn how to celebrate festivals even when I wasn't being monitored or supervised by anyone. It is about learning to deal with being sick with no one around. It is about getting over my fear of eating alone or travelling alone or shopping alone. It is about being as self sufficient as I could be. And trust me, for someone as undomesticated as me, it's been quite a learning experience. Right from figuring out which goes into the bucket first- detergent powder or water, to learning how to make transactions at the bank, to learning of what use is a paracetamol or when to take a Dependal-M, to learning to force myself to make the extra effort to keep in touch, to learning how to occupy myself in my free time, to learning how to fend for myself when I'm lost in an unknown city, to learning how to deal with people without losing my mercurial temper... it has all been one long pursuit of independence and growing up and well, it feels nice in many ways and not so nice in some others.
Coming back to the not-so-long-past Diwali day, a pooja was organised on campus in the evening. And that's when I found myself remembering the pooja at home, that would invariably start late (thanks to my Mom's penchant for always getting dressed late) only to be followed by a few sounds of protest from my Dad. And then a little heated argument between my Mom and me and/or my sister about how unfair and "inhuman" it was on my Mom's part to keep the dogs away from the pooja area and how antiquated and baseless we found the belief. Needless to say, my Mom would prevail and order would soon be restored and the pooja started. This would then be followed by a hurried lighting of all the diyas (and trust me, that usually takes a while given how we light the entire house and the outside facade) with diyas. And then of course would be the photo-shoot of sorts to admire our handiwork and then it would be time to receive guests. Now, a lot of this did not happen here. It was just a pooja followed by the bursting of crackers and then lighting diyas in my room and on the hostel's parapet. Still, it didn't feel so bad, perhaps because 20 years of celebrating Diwali had made me able to 'mentally' celebrate Diwali at home. The good thing about being orphaned and home-less was that I was more involved in the process of celebrating Diwali. The bad thing, however, was that I'd probably never get to see how our new house was decorated with diyas. I also missed seeing how the two additions to our households (the two little 'friendly' canines) reacted to the noise of the crackers and I missed being there to pacify a very petrified Scamper. I missed the food and the bonhomie and the spirit that would have prevailed at the dining table back at home. More than a thousand miles away, there are a lot of things that I've learnt, but also there are quite a few memories that I missed being a part of. And this is the point when I start feeling homesick. Having my neighbour play Parikrama's Open Skies doesn't do much to reduce the bitter sweet feeling.
And this is when it starts dawning, that I'd probably start getting weaned away from future memories. I'd no longer be part of pictures taken during Diwali or Holi or Durga Pooja. I'd no longer know of all the special meals they'd have had at home. And now, while writing this post (I know I've digressed from what I initially set out to write) I realize that more than anything I miss knowing what new thing my Mom bought. I miss knowing what my sister wore to her farewell. I miss knowing that I could vent my irritation or annoyance at home as opposed to having to act reasonably and trying not to lose my temper. I miss arguing with my Mom about her lack of punctuality. I miss not being responsible for myself. I miss being allowed the liberty to kick up a fuss or pout and sulk. I miss the comfort of my dogs. I miss being able to look into their eyes and knowing that they know when I'm truly feeling blue! I miss being able to look at my collection of books and re read the "right" book, when I feel this sudden longing to read Pride & Prejudice or Shobhaa De or Enid Blyton or any of the others. I miss discovering interesting sounding books in my parents' burgeoning and varied collection. And most of all, I miss being a family of four as opposed to being an independent unit. But then again, I'm learning... learning to deal with it all and learning to help others do so too. And thus, I'm learning to discover and to deal with uncertainty.
P.S. This has turned out to be a rather reminiscing, nostalgic post and not really what I intended it to be, but what the heck, it still reflects some of my thoughts that I might have come to terms with and realised only while writing this shockingly long post.