The person at the store will tell you that suitcases come in four sizes: small, medium, large and the one that’s the same size as that 12 year old you. I took the medium one last year. What was I going to do with a suitcase any bigger than that anyway? My father wanted me to buy the large one, he believes in covering all his bases. I am still tainted with inexperience.
In the last one month, I chose to stay mostly at home (Other than the one trip to the hills). Everywhere I went despite this choice, I wanted to consume into my memory. Would I ever visit this lane again? When would I take this bus again? The dim lights of dinners, the blinding sunshine of afternoons in Calcutta and then the darkness of street lights. Maybe homes take up expanses that we fail to recognize and later, measure.
It suddenly dawns upon you that the tasks for the following days include emptying drawers, letting go of books, giving away clothes. These are the rituals of every departure. Life stands in a linear scale and the scale ends here.
The sun sets later here, evenings are longer. I wake up earlier than I would like to. New beds are hostile to sleep. You never return to the old, departure once is exile forever. Home, is a disease that infects memory. And yet, home is renewed everyday with memory. The further you move away from home, the more your memory creates it. For every bedside table that held your spectacles, is a shelf that almost fits them in the same way. Habits become rituals; homes are held together by rituals.
The first time you leave home, with only departure tickets, you will shed a chunk of your heart. Do not expect to find it back in the course of time.
Bombay is not unfamiliar, it’s not familiar either. Meals need to be taken care of, bills have to be paid. I think of Calcutta often, mostly in passing as a standard to compare every other place with. When you have known only one thing all your life, everything else seems to be a variable of that one thing.
New things grow on you, slowly. We spend lifetimes in finding dreams, but sometimes they come true in uncertain patterns. Happiness comes in toffee-sized bites, at the corner of every street in one strange shop. I think of my mother, of the way no other touch will be so old, so known. I think of departures, of the weight that I left behind. Perhaps, all departures only make us lighter. Everything is lost at its moment of inception. Where does life find its space then? Why do we collect souvenirs to remember? Umbrellas form silhouettes here. Bombay settles into you as you settle into the rains. Someday, the building opposite yours won’t be the same as the building back home that you remember.
I packed two suitcases for Bombay, and a bag. How many suitcases does it take to fit in the gatherings of lifetimes? Where do you keep the things you cannot carry? Every moment I spend here, I want to absorb everything. There is so much to see, so much that I do not know about. Laughter appears at odd hours, in pyjamas in the new place that you have to call home now. Embrace it, embrace every semblance of happiness that comes to you. Wait on the shore, see the tides rise. Love is a souvenir to keep, it fills all suitcases. Know that sometimes love is also the monsoon that comes without rain. Hold on to it anyway. It’s okay to believe. Let people find you, let rituals take you over.