Some days, my YouTube wanders into Telugu film territory, leaving me with bittersweet feelings for several hours. Home calls. A home with few people, no family and no house, but a whole city where memories have accumulated, rising at the merest provocation.
I was in Vizag for a week in October, but when is a trip home ever long enough? Vizag gave me everything my hungry imagination could have ever asked for, first as a nine-year-old, till I was twenty-one. It gave me hills, which could turn into the Highlands of Sir Walter Scott’s novels or the undulating landscape of Middle Earth. It gave me the sea, on which sailed the ships which would go to Mombasa or around the Cape of Good Hope, all the way to the tropical forests of the Amazon. When you’ve grown up in a beautiful, coastal, hill-ringed town, your imagination takes flight and dreams scoff at practicality. Memories settle in the sand and the folds of the hills. They are in the rippling shadows that clouds cast on the slopes, in signboards, trees, parks, and in the rumble of the train. And who ever managed to clamp down on memories?
Memories can trap and destroy a person. But they can also nourish and sustain. Snatches of a forgotten conversation, a kind act, friendship and affection from unexpected quarters: they don’t enslave you through attachment, but bubble up when you are low, bring back a thrill or a vivid sensation of happiness — and that can be enough for a few hours or a day or a week. They sometimes bring a drop of longing for what was or what could have been. Unrest follows. And then a new day arrives, with a fresh load of memories.
I wrote this a few days ago. The wistfulness has passed and now, I am back in the present, learning new things, preparing to make some dreams come true. I also had a little moment of satisfaction earlier this week when I was in a roomful of mental health professionals, watching them learn how they could understand and help young people who needed support. The challenges are enormous and our mental health professionals are greatly burdened, but this is a story for another day. For me, the workshop was a reminder of how you can never say never. If you grew up in a small town with little exposure, studied engineering because everybody else did, struggled your way out, and are now (usually) doing what you love —even in fields where you are the outsider, you can safely say that miracles happen.
One thing is for certain, I will never understand life and this is a fact I have made my peace with.