I woke up from my afternoon siesta today and as I lay in bed I realized that very soon I’ll be going back home to Calcutta. As I gazed out of my bedroom window at the building parallel to mine, my mind went back to the trees I see outside my window in Calcutta. There is always a gentle breeze blowing the leaves back and forth and in those sporadic updrafts come the sounds of dogs barking, the tinkling of the rickshaw bells and the full-throated laughter of little children. How I miss home!
The Calcutta of my memories is filled with noisy warmth and color and food that is simply startling in its flavor. If I’m being completely honest, sometimes when I arrive in Calcutta and take in the smell of the gray smog, and find myself tangled in the snarl of traffic on my way home from the airport, I stop and wonder what exactly I was missing. But then I see my parents and get enfolded in their warm embrace. There’s my mother’s beaming face. Even my little dog Skippy does a customary dance around my heels and licks my face with a vengeance as if to say “where were you all this while?”
My aunts, uncles and cousins drop by for a visit, unannounced – just the way I like it. Endless cups of tea steaming with cardamom arrive on little trays. Bowls are filled with little treats, I cut into peanut butter sandwiches, bite into deeply fried samosas dripping with oil and tangy flavors. I hear my mum instructing the maid with precise directions on how the vegetables need to be cut for dinner and just how the spices need to be mixed, my dad searches the chest of drawers for the remote control and grumbles under his breath how things are never to be found when you need them most. I hear my brother’s phone buzzing incessantly and I take in all these sights and sounds greedily and happily. That’s when I know, I’m finally back home!
The first few mornings are the ones that I treasure the most. I wake up early and gaze outside the window. The same trees have grown older and appear a little fuller. The air is cool in the mornings and I watch the curtains rise and fall with the morning breeze that is rushing in through my open windows. In those moments, the feeling of being home, of being somebody’s child again, wraps around me like a blanket. It’s been four and a half years since I first left home but I’ve felt this way each time that I’ve returned. In my home, nothing changes, and that’s what I love most!