Not One Home

“Where are you from?”

Does this question ring bells in your ears and makes your heart pound because you do not know how exactly to answer this question and not sound straight out of one of those fictions. If such is your case, you have my sympathy.

People have constantly asked where I was from. And I have tried to give satisfactory answers to them – answers that have not in the least managed to satisfy me as being honest. After having lived in a number of states (not just cities within a particular state), each stint of varying duration, I have no clue as to where I actually belong to.

To be honest, a part of me lives in all those places where I have lived and shared my life with people around me. A part of them lives within me and a part of me in them. I am but a combination of multiple identities. And in such a scenario to say that I belong to where my ancestors lived or where there is a structure that inhabits people who in common parlance ‘share the same blood and identity as mine’ would not just be the most inappropriate response but would also reflect hypocrisy of the highest order. For in many of those, I find no reflection of who I am.

So every time somebody asks me this question and my deliberate mechanical response comes to my rescue, I am left with a sense of unease for I know that I wasn’t being fair to the least. In all the places that I have lived, I have felt a sense of bonhomie with the surroundings and to say that I don’t belong to those places would mean disrespect to the immense love that the city had bestowed upon me. In one I was born, in some I went to school and college, in some others I learnt the nitty-gritties of life. They have together joined several pieces of my existence and made me a complete whole. And to all those cities that I would travel to in future and share a piece of myself with, I owe gratitude.

I am a citizen of the world. I belong to the earth that gives me the space to grow so I could walk on its soil and go where I was meant to reach.

I live everywhere. In the wind that blew against my face, the raindrops that poured over me, the dust of the school playground where I bruised my knees, the hospital bed where I wish I hadn’t been, the mango tree under which a 102 year old man had once narrated what the freedom struggle was like, the Durga Puja celebrations where people triple my age touched my feet and sought blessings, the books I read, for that matter even the internet and the many phone calls with so many people.

A part of my soul dwells in all of those moments and memories, not one but many – constantly created, piled up one over another. That is home.

So don’t ask me where I belong. I would not want to tell you something I don’t mean.