SO first journey back home got over. It was exciting. Longest air travel. Made me feel rich. And privileged too. May be in a filthy way. But luckily the long air and then train travel was to a place where I grew up. So that right away took everything off. The filth which I wore on from the capitalistic capital of the country kind of lost its sheen. And thankfully too. It was cold. Damn cold. Sometimes freezing. I remember sitting with my family people and explaining how I live and how there is no trace of cold where I live. So that I bath daily now. A far departure from my usual winter days. First trip to the mini store to find some cheap clothes. A there was whole enormous group of people in the store. Asking silly questions to salesmen. Why these things so cheap or expensive. Is it small town mentality or just consumer awareness? A mixture of both. Dominos is there in my town. Strange to think of that. Now there is mall coming up. Right next to my home. Hopefully in coming years. Met some old relatives. Talks of marriage of some of the older cousins (thankfully not mine). So all kind of talks going around. Heart-warming old tales. All so small townish but with distinct flavour. Moving ahead with capitalism, reliance too has opened a store so too tanishq. My old town is growing up finally. I remember when I was old, we did not know of a world whch existed beyond 7 in winters. May be 8 in summers. And now well markets are open bit late. So all part of a big plan. APrt from town a lot of people has changed. Elders have grown older. Some way too much that makes me fell scary. And some kids who were still nappy bound, now are ready to kick your ass. New neighbours have too come up. Everyone looked so strange. It just did not have feel of street where we used to play badminton with lights on in winters and have a small competition. I used to win a lot of that. May be I was not fat at that time. I had way more energy those days than I can recall. Which is kind of strange because I am still not 25.

Some strange moments of feeling connected. Walking past my granddad’s picture. That whole camera fiasco. The whole what might have been thing. It made me sick. Then old lady of the house. I still recall the moment when she said do not board air planes. They are not safe. Try reasoning with that despite me being an aerospace engineer (or better might have been aerospace engineer). I remember my dad explaining how he never had as much money as I have till this considerable age. Feel content. Those talks used to be boring but suddenly not anymore. There was more to it. I remember my brother giving me wink and asking for pocket money secretly while leaving for his college. Most poignant was my mother asking how you can talk to foreigners. She still thinks me as same old kid who would never talk to anyone besides close acquaintances. Even on family functions. Do you speak fluently with them? Do they get you? It was kind of insulting too but yeah I could see why. After all these years of concealing yourself, it’s hard for anyone to know you well enough. One of many regrets of my life. But all was not strange. Finally free from his sons’ education expenses my father bought a car. He wanted to a long while back but two same aged kids make it hard I guess.

Then there was trip or more of a pilgrimage. I had to wake up at 6, bath at 7 and argue with neighbours till 8. Then leave. Then argue with myself for I don’t know what. A long 250km round trip. Roads were better than before. Luckily otherwise it would have been long ride back and forth. We reached there. Met our old priest. He made sure our journey through a massive crowd was as smooth as possible. A whole sea of people. All from different economic or cultural backgrounds. All in search of something. Material mostly. But having just recently seen a movie which raised questions about gods and god-men, I found my faith in one overpowering entity even stronger. Stronger than ever. We also went to my uncle’s village/town on our way. It was nice small house. A genuine warmth of welcome. Unlike the hellos and good mornings of office culture.

On my way back I saw one place. And I was reminded of “that” incident. That was English paper day. High school. Final exam day. We had our car booked. We were going at a brisk pace. Suddenly a car starts taking over all of us. And suddenly all the car drivers got competitive. But we had one of school’s teacher with us. So ours was in control. All of a sudden the car which was speeding turned and kind of summersaulted. I remember the visuals correctly. I could make a movie of that visual. And we were the closest vehicle to it. There was a village near-by. So there was huge commotion. The guys on the back side of the car somehow got out. The middle ones were stuck still. We genuinely feared for the front loaders. 2–3 guys from the doomed vehicle got out. Screaming for help. Some of enthusiastic people got out of our car to look for what happened. I was kind of shocked and too exam minded to comprehend what exactly happened. Our teacher asked all of us to move inside and continue our journey. We had an exam to give. A lot of people has already gathered. They will help them poor souls, our teacher said. Fair enough. Soon we all boarded our car and started to move. We saw some of the injured kids rushing towards us. Screaming to help. I am still in shock. I did not know what hit us or the. Our teacher gestured to our driver to speed up. Being an obedient servant he did. I could now listen what they were saying. Simple “stop” “stop” “stop” “stop” or “help” “help” “help”. What else one would expect kids to say in such a tragedy. I wonder we made a right decision or not. People day the kid who died, died as soon as vehicle overturned. So we could not have done anything. But we had a paper. We had our lives. Why risking a paper over someone who most probably died instantly. Our car sped away. The same car was there in the evening when we returned. It had to be there. A police case most probably. Then two days later we had another paper. The car was still there. Now it had been turned. Except its front region consisted of smashed steel or plastic. The pilgrimage I was on recently. The same route we took. I did not have much memory of the route but place, if I was painter I would paint it down exactly what that looked like with trees and that fateful car turned upside. This time too our car sped way, in different mood, new car, small family reunion, both kids with job now. Faiz’s poetry and songs. But I vaguely remember turning my head to just check whether that car was still there, travelling….

A song which really captures how does it feel to be home

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