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Home sweet home versus fragrances of new soil

October 20
21:54 2010

We have recently shifted from Robbinsville to Princeton within New Jersey.

With all boxes emptied and cupboards filled I gave myself a pat on the back feeling delighted like kindergarteners just after clean-up time at school.

It was not a new feat. In fact I worked with dexterity of a professional packer, for it was probably the twenty first house I was settling into within a span of a decade. These moves were spread across three continents and four countries and by now I had learned to pack and unpack the entire house within the shortest given notice and swiftness of an army command.

With things quite in control, I settled in for a quieter moment of contemplation to enjoy the new environs. No sooner than I could appreciate a few things of novelty, an inevitable question popped up and distracted my mind. Like jack in the magic box, it sprang up unexpectedly; and asked me – could we finally call it home?

With each move this question has sprung up in one form or the other and time and again, the answer has remained evasive, like an unsolved puzzle. For people belonging to the category of living in house on wheels, such answers don’t come easy.

At some point of time in our respective routes of transition, many immigrants like me have gone through this. As we go transplanting ourselves into a new soil, we seek an inherent desire for some sort of permanency.
Yet this time the calling was stronger, for after years of persistent changes; my heart yearned for more than a modicum of stability. As described beautifully by the author Willa Carther, “the universal human yearning for something permanent, enduring, without a shadow of change,” is what I longed for.

Within minutes of engaging in this thought process, a plethora of related questions swarmed upon me. How would it be to live all your life in one place, where the steady pillars of permanence would keep you rooted. How would it feel to visit the grocery store or hair salon that your mother once went? To live in a place where the roads, parks and even trees become a larger part of your life, radiating familiarity and comfort beyond words?
Ah! The life of a migrant! With a twinge in the heart, I relied on my imagination to seek answers and couldn’t help feeling envious of people who had the prerogative to such stability!

For once uprooted from one’s native place the chain of continuity is broken. We may re-establish ourselves quickly in the new land but the broken links will remain, albeit faded but discernible to ourselves.

If I were the carver of the path of my life’s journey, would I dare to explore any further then the cozy confines of my native place? Probably not. Would I ever regret not doing so? In the long run – certainly!

For getting the opportunities of experiencing the world outside the cozy cocoon has been a blessing in disguise. It has given me a wonderful chance to explore and understand God’s beautiful creations and imaginations around the world.

I cannot simply ignore the quality of nourishment change has brought into our lives. Meandering along what life had to offer, from one bank to another, has been a journey full of enriching insights. The quaint villages of European countries to the new age cities of the US, to the oriental culture of the Middle East to the diversity of the Indian subcontinent , vividly opened up a plethora of hitherto unexplored sights and smells ,customs and religions, varied human interactions and myriad experiences.

Without exploring these vistas, my perspective on life would have been myopic, and befriending change would have been nearly impossible.

All these changes have taught me to embrace one simple fact; that change is the flow of life and one must accept it with open mind and right attitude. It is ‘the only’ constant thing in this world. As author Henry David Thoreau writes “All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle which is taking place every instant”. Where stability matters most is within us, inside our heart and mind. Once we are able to stabilize the internal forces then the external changes become secondary.

As I was about to give a final verdict to my probing questions I hear a hurried voice, “Look here honey, you missed out emptying these boxes!” my husband called me from the garage.

With the last remaining boxes finally emptied; I neatly fold and stack them in the storage pile instead of quashing them into the recycling bin. Gently reminding myself to be prepared, just in case the invitation to the next move arrives!

Divya Swami Attri

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