I wake up every morning dreaming about home. I see Mamma and Deuta and Aita, and even though the dreams don’t make sense at all, I wake up feeling sad. My heart feels like it is filled with lead, and I have to struggle to pick that heavy thing up and carry it with me as I get up from bed. And “that heavy thing”, like an adamant kid refusing to let go of its mother, clings on to me as I sleepwalk into the living room and plonk myself down on the couch; as I sit with the husband while he doles out some perfunctory affection to me, with his eyes constantly peeled to his laptop screen; as I get up and then sleepwalk into the kitchen and yawn myself a cup of tea and even as I dreamily glide about the kitchen hoping to find inspiration for breakfast. By then the cold seeps in slowly and stealthily, and before I know it, I am pulling my jacket tighter, holding the hot cup of tea a little closer to my face and earnestly trying to find a place where I can curl up into a tight ball and stay like that until all of winter has passed by and the sun is back up there where I can see it. It doesn’t help to think of our yard back home, and the lukewarm sun that felt like a mother’s touch on my back each morning. It doesn’t help to think of the occasional breakfast outdoors with Ma and Aita, talking about happy things and sad things over a pot of tea and sun-kissed breakfast platters. If anything, the heart starts aching a little bit as I stare at the busy city from the balcony, everything gray and gloomy, even the neon lights looking pale and faded as they twinkle dimly through the fog. And like the typical Bollywood movie that my life is, the heartache gets only worse as I kiss the husband goodbye for the day, and invite loneliness in through the very door he walks out of.
Sometimes, if I am lucky, I remember a happy song or stumble across one, and “that heavy thing” finally lets go of me before I end up a mopey mess. And then there are days like today, when homesickness wraps its tentacles around all around me, and it takes lot more than just a song. I walk about the house trying to find things to do. Pick up a shirt here, fold a towel there. Stare accusingly at the humming refrigerator for a few minutes and sometimes smack it angrily to stop it from being so loud. Tut-tut at the scattered DVDs and re-arrange the remotes lying on the table for the umpteenth time.
Before I know it, it is mid-morning, and I saunter back into the kitchen. When nothing else works, I turn to cooking. I open shelves, pull out drawers and stack the cans on the kitchen counter. And with a flash in the pan (literally), I am transformed from a homesick girl aching for home and a husband who would stay with her the whole day long, to a woman who is in her element, washing and chopping and cooking. As I chop my onions and grate my ginger, I am no longer in some different world. I am back home, in my mother’s kitchen, where onion and ginger in oil smells just the way it does here. It doesn’t matter if I am a thousand miles away from home; tomatoes go all soft and squishy on frying just the same. Potatoes boiled and mashed with salt and coriander taste just the same, specially with a dash of mustard oil. Lusi-aloo bhaji remain what they are no matter where I am: a classic. And when Ma gives me instructions on phone about how to cook fish with lai-xaak and I follow them to a T, it will taste just like Ma’s does. Unconditionally.
And even while I am cooking, the husband calls up to ask me about the weather in this home, and I tell him it is nice and warm and it smells very good. I remind him to have lunch and he reminds me to have mine and we hang up with a “See you”. I smile for a full five minutes like some idiot who’s suddenly reminded of some happy thing she had forgotten in a hurry: I will see him in the evening after all. Unlike the year before the wedding when it was solely the phone calls.
Being married to my best friend and keeping a good home. I guess I am starting to get the hang of it. Dealing with homesickness? Not so much, yet. But with a song here and a three course meal there, I think I will get by just fine.
P.S. Here’s the *on repeat* song for today.