Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fera

The title of this blog is inspired by a book I read long back. “Fera” or “The Return” is one of the lesser known novels of one of the most controversial contemporary writer, Taslima Nasreen. It was by fluke that I came across this book and read it. I read it in its original version and fell in love with it immediately. It deals with the issue of belonging. And probably that is why I fell in love with it. It talks about a lady's journey back to her hometown after 40 years, now a foreign country, in search of the “home” she lost. She of course returns disappointed. It was at this point that I always felt I could relate to her. Her eternal desire to go home was something which struck a cord with me.

And today after 5 years I went in search of the home that I left behind, the place of my birth, the place where I grew up the place I will always call home, the only place I will ever call home, Shillong. After all clichéd though it might sound I believe that “home is where the heart is”. So after a lot of thinking and rethinking I decided that this was one journey I had to undertake. I feared I would be disappointed just like the lady in the book but I would never know for sure until I went there. So with a camera, a book some goodies and a sweater packed in my rucksack I took the taxi to Shillong from Guwahati. It was a bad bumpy ride without any company. I spent some time of the 3 long hours reading my book and some time gazing at the spectacular view outside. In spite of all the discomfort I was happy I had decided to go. I had heard so much from friends about how Shillong had changed in the past few years, how commercialized it had become, how big city like it felt, now I would finally see it for myself.

Shillong did look a little different when I first set eyes on it. Yes, a little smaller, a little newer, there were new shops and new people on the roads. I tried hard but saw no familiar faces; the few I did see looked a little older, a little withdrawn and were completely unable to recognize me. The roads looked a little barren, devoid of trees; my favourite pines didn’t adorn as many roads as it did earlier. They had been cut to make way for traffic I believe. The concrete jungle was also encroaching into Shillong. The quaint, endearing Assam style houses were becoming fewer and fewer. They were probably too expensive or maybe just not stylish enough these days.

So did I find the Shillong that I was looking for? Yes, I did. Unlike the lady in the book I found my home. I did not find the house that we grew up in the house where my Dad grew up, that has probably changed beyond recognition, remodeled by the new owner. Honestly I did not have the courage to go there, that would have been too much for me to handle, I am sure. Shillong did look very different with new faces and all but it felt the same. I might sound corny but it still has this warmth which you feel when you reach home. After all home, maybe is more than a house you live in, it’s a sense of belonging, a sense of being one with the place where you are standing and being able to blend in and feel like there is no place you need to reach at the end of the day. I felt like that when I stood in Shillong, breathing in the sweet smelling air without a care in the world. I knew then I would return here time and again, no matter how many trees were uprooted, how many new faces swarmed the streets, how many buildings cropped up on the roads. Shillong is, was, and will always be my home.

7 comments:

Satish said...

Very good indeed. I'm glad you found home again. I went through similar emotions when I went to Bangalore this december.And I did feel I had lost my home when I reached the airport and traveled through the city a little. But I could remould my mind into accepting the little changes that had happened to Malleswaram as I met friends and even managed to go into my erstwhile home (with new tenants). I would have definitely loved for you to have gone to YOUR old house.. remodeled as it may be, but still holding some memories and adding to some older ones on a fresh sheaf of paper.

Amrita said...

Hmmm...

billi said...

i m loving it...its raining outside.....m in d office n its unusually quiet 2day....after many days of 'madam ye problem hai....madam wo nahin chal raha..'....m sitting peacefully at my pc...njoying d peace n quiet of the afternoon...n this piece gently pulled me into a dream land.... though it added to my nostalgia...it was sweet...

Banhi said...

Am glad you found what you were looking for...maybe not exactly as you had left it, but almost as you had left it is good too,you know!
And most importantly ,am glad that it made you happy!
Making a little room for changes, without disturbing the essence, is not such a bad thing after all..

Dey's World said...

Lady from Estonia, your "Fera"to Shilong is the story of many small town girls. Reading your post I felt like walking past the pines which is not there any more. Looking fwd to many more updates like this.

satyam said...

I'm happy for you that you found the home in which you grew up. But more than that I appreciate your effort to go back to your home town to find it. Keep up the good work. Looking forward for another interesting blog :-).

Daily Poppycock said...

I have vowed never to be sentimental again, so I wont comment on anything in your post. But the rucksack and the junk inside it that you mentioned... that is so you:). Glad you had a good time.