Airports

Starting the second year of Ma’s loss. There’s nothing as desolate as solo air travel. I do it all the time for work but that’s driven by a purpose. Over the last 15 years after i migrated to the US, I’ve made multitudes of long air trips back home. I feel like if I could make a movie of the moments of my life as captured by those journeys it would say an awful lot about the circularity of my life. The seemingly straight line of life took me a long winding way back to where I felt I started. Life seems like a sum zero of nothing lost and nothing gained. Shunya.

I used to think life traveled in a straight line. I mean we age chronologically but nothing prepared me for the circularity I experienced with my life after my mother’s death. The first flight I took into independence from my family, moving to a new country unraveled in my head when I landed in Newark this time, back from my mother’s first death anniversary. As I walked from the plane towards immigration I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of my old Baba, looking lost and sad to see me off. I thought about the countless times they both saw me off at BOM, especially that last time in June of 2017 when she wanted to drop me. I thought about the first flight and landing in Chicago feeling lost and why i felt the same even though i was purportedly coming home. The sense and the lure of home still prevailed then. But this time I felt like I was walking on shifting sands. There was no home in India anymore. My mother is dead. My father lives in a room of a rented (but beautiful) apartment with my sister. There is no sense of familiarity in those streets. I got lost repeatedly when trying to return to the apartment during my trip. It frustrated me no end.

I feel without context. I feel like my past is enveloping me yet it cannot be further from where I am. Yet i feel like I’m moving in convoluted circles. I have vivid memories of old feelings that feel alien in my life today. That I had suppressed deep inside of me. The feeling I have towards my city of birth – the pain of loss of the city as it was, the thrill and headiness and the thrum of life that ebbs there and is so removed from my quiet life here. I chose this life. I chose the quiet and the predictable. But my mother’s death has opened up questions in my head about these choices I have made. I find myself asking why. What would the alternative have been. Would I have been less unhappy? Would I have been less at peace? What is it that I am seeking? Is it peace or is it the disquiet that was familiar? I don’t know. I have a perfect life. Beautiful family, a deeply loving husband, a successful career etc etc. Why does it all seem so transient?

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