The grass is greener on the other side (or whatever)


For close to three years, I lived away from home, on the other side of the world. During this time, I completed my Master’s program, searched obsessively for a job, worked for a year, searched for a job again, and finally returned home. If I can remember one thing that was constant throughout those different phases, it is the yearning I felt to come back home.

I missed the whistles of the pressure cooker I tried to block by pressing my head in between pillows.

I missed my mother waking me up in the morning – again and again (I have always been notorious for not waking up on time).

I missed the smell of karuveppalai and jeeragam sizzling in ghee, right before being dipped into the rasam boiling away.

I missed the quiet and strong presence of my father, who always understood me without me ever having to say much.

I missed the chaos, the two thousand things happening at once if you looked up from your phone.

I missed driving my scooter everywhere I wanted to go, relishing my independence and speed.

I missed the friends I mostly spent time with, the spots we used to frequent, and the laughter that was always present.

I missed everything I took for granted, the life without worries, the chores I never did; it was all taken care of.

Now that I am back to all of that, it turns out I yearn for different things.

I miss being able to take decisions – I no longer need to think about practical difficulties – Is this a safe area to rent a house? How much will I have left after all my expenditures this month?

I miss the feeling of not being accountable to anyone – I cannot just walk out the door and come back when I please, 9 pm or 2 am.

I miss the sense of accomplishment I felt on having navigated my way and solved my small troubles in a faraway place.

I miss the adult life I was slowly getting used to – somehow, it feels like I moved back a few years, not a few thousand kilometres.

I miss the friends I made, the long conversations into the night, the family-of-sorts that was with me through everything – trivial or otherwise. After three years of living away, it seems like almost everyone I once knew here has left for someplace else.

I miss my experiments with cooking, and the joy I felt when I made something that tasted as though Amma made it.

I miss the little bit of travelling I became used to, visiting my friends in new cities. (I must relearn that nothing is too safe for parents to feel safe.)

Maybe, wherever we are, whatever we choose to do, we will always yearn for something we no longer have or wish to have. I wonder if we just spend all our time waiting. Either we wait to come back, or we wait to go back. If we are where we want to be, we wait for something we don’t have.


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