‘You will never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart’. – George Michael.
The doorbell rang at 6.00 am and with sleepy eyes I opened the door. The maid had arrived to complete her daily quota of work. I don’t remember if I had completed my dream or if was dreaming anything at all. I made some coffee to help myself come out of the drowsiness so that I can atleast behave normal and instruct her to finish the work.
Finally, I started talking after having few sips of the coffee and quickly engaged myself into the daily activities for the day. When it is a weekday and the work place follows a strict punctuality policy, sparing even a second is never an option. So, after the maid left, hurriedly I got ready for work and left for office. I had the general shift timings which meant that I would return home by evening.
At office, it was a mixed feeling. There was work, fun and gossip, and sometimes good music from the bosses. Well, it is a part of life which can never be taken apart.
After returning home, I had some time for myself which I utilised to do some cooking, reading some books, or may be crafting something out of my wild imagination, if I had little energy to spare. Later, eat dinner and sleep.
Weekends and holidays were solely dedicated for cleaning. Being single and staying away from home required everything to be taken care of by myself. Yes, I did go out with my friends for party, but that was not very often. The small amount of time I used to get after the cleaning spree was mostly kept for spending with my text or story books.
This was my life for couple of years. It may seem very peaceful to you and many of those who are reading this, can relate to a life as their own.
Although, this was a very hassle-free life, but at the end of each day, I felt incomplete, as if something was missing. I was not content and there was emptiness in my heart. ‘Is this the life I wanted?’ I kept asking myself several times a day. The answer was NO. I always wanted to break free. I never wanted my mind to stop imagining how things could turn the other way round if I could get out of this robotic life I had made for myself, how I could travel like a free spirit and not think of any punctuality or regularity policy violation. I always like anticipating situations- if I was doing this or if I was doing that and so on.. I felt as if I was losing myself in the crowd, slowly and gradually losing my sanity. I could feel a storm brewing in my heart and the peaceful routine was the lull before the storm. But, I had no idea how to ease it.
One fine morning, on my way to office, I got a glimpse of an accident. The road was full of people with confused stares, ambulance and police were at their duty, eyewitnesses were narrating the unfortunate incident and the rest were madly searching for some phone numbers or identification so that they can report the incident to the family members of the deceased person.
This visual shook me from within. Shivers ran down my spine and the grim realisation that life is too short to let go of your dreams, had hit me hard. It was very difficult to concentrate on anything. I did not want to die unaccomplished. I was afraid for a moment thinking what if I had some unfulfilled dreams, and at the end of my life I breathed my last with lot of regrets. I felt very subsided and frustrated after witnessing the uncertainty of life and kept thinking about my family. I desperately wanted to hug my mother, my father and my darling sister. But they were so far away, in a different place. The feeling of helplessness was weakening my inner strength. I needed to go home.
It was that day when I decided that my homecoming had finally arrived. The dying soul gave the courage to quit my job (believe me, it is not an easy task to quit a well -paid job and go back, having no solid source of income at hand). But, ignoring all pros and cons, I resigned.
After seven long years, I returned home, to Kolkata, commonly called the city of joy. There had been previous visits also, but for a short notice, say a maximum of ten days. This time, it was not the matter of days but the tenure of months yet to be decided. I was overwhelmed with joy and the feeling of being united with my family after such a long period of separation. So many things had changed and I was not there to witness it. I felt sad and sorry for leaving my folks behind. My parents and other elders had grown old and had wrinkles on their faces. My little sister, who used to run behind me with her small arms stretched for a cute little hug, had grown into a dashing young lady. Time had flown so fast that it was hard to believe all the changes which confronted me. Thus, I made a promise to myself that this homecoming, in its entirety, would be devoted to my beloved ones.
One more promise that I made to myself was to blend in the colours of the joyful city. As a young girl, I was very timid and mostly confined myself within the four walls. Having a home in a suburban area, I could hardly convince myself to step a foot outside without my mother accompanying me. I hardly knew the roads and the local transportation of the city. The magnitude and the flock of people used to make me hysterical. Thus, I lacked the bond with the city that every individual share with their home town. I could barely cherish the love, the ecstasy that Kolkata embraced in its heart. When you do not belong to your homeland inwardly, you are yet to be acquainted with a part of yourself. This homecoming, I wanted to discover the unexplored part of myself by knowing the city of joy, my home town, from a different perspective. I wanted to introduce myself to me, once again.
My happiness had no bounds when I started establishing the bond with the city. I let loose of the fear that was holding me back for so long and soon Kolkata took me in its delight. I started adoring all the things that I had once disdained. The large congregation of people did not scare me anymore. I embarked a new journey full of freedom by discovering Kolkata, all by myself. I started enjoying the daily travel to the city by the crowded local bus and trains. The cold winds gushing through my face when the bus raced on the Howrah Bridge or when I sat by the Ganges riverside filled my heart with glee. The relishing of ‘fuchkas’ or ‘gol-gappas’, the jerky tram ride, the visits to the historical monuments like Victoria Memorial, picnicking at Maidan, walking down the College Street or the New Market, sitting in the Millennium Park and waiting for hours just to see the Howrah Bridge turn itself into vibrant purple, the experience of floating in the middle of Bay of Bengal on a traditional ‘nouka’ (boat) or even talking to an old man sitting in a park gave me profound satisfaction. The bling and paparazzi of Durga Puja, the ‘dhunuchi dance’ competition, celebrating Christmas and welcoming the New Year among the throng at the glamorously decorated Park Street, the participation in doing the arrangements for a domestic puja, the making of ‘pithe’ at home – everything filled me with a sense of completeness. The long brewing storm inside my heart was finally at ease.
Kolkata proved to be something more than home. I found solace in the tiny things that surrounded me. This was what I wanted- a feeling of being with myself, a feeling of being me. I could breathe. I unearthed the little secrets that were concealed within me. It was not just the gravity holding me anymore; it was the sense of revival. I came home and I found myself. This was new and pure. The essence of knowing myself all over again overpowered me with an aroma of joy. I now knew that connecting with the smallest entity around was the epitome of revival.
A quote by Thales say ‘the most difficult thing in life is to know yourself’’, until you listen to the voice of your heart. So, go on, put on that smile and introduce yourself to the world, all over again.