I remember a lot of things about my first day in Coimbatore. It was a Wednesday, it was raining cats and dogs and I was choking on my own tears, sobbing uncontrollably into my dad’s shoulders, trying not to smear too much snot on his shirt ( and failing ).
Not a particularly gratifying memory, but a very vivid one, nonetheless.
I was eleven at the time, fresh out of middle school, in a new place, a new town , a new school.
Coimbatore , to me was weird.
I was from Ooty, the queen of the hills, a place where no such things as straight roads existed.You couldn’t walk more than ten feet in ooty without having to huff and puff your way up a slope or try to keep your self from falling flat on your face, going down a steep decline.
Everything in Coimbatore was ….neat. And plain and really, really…. organized. It boggled my mind. In Ooty, break time meant running like wild pigs to the nearest green surface and then rolling around in content.
In Coimbatore, I had to sit straight in my desk, maybe pull out a box of biscuits and munch it like a good little girl. No one went around rolling in the grounds. At least, not intentionally.
But , as time went by, I learnt to love my school, my friends and also my city.
There was donuts, K. R. Bakes and Food World. There was fun city, ( ironically there’s a hundred acre theme park in ooty with the same name : Imagine moving from a hundred acre fun city to a one room fun city ) , there were a bunch of parks.
And there was a huge house on my way to school, which looked just like Noah’s ark. I think coimbatore beat ooty with just that bizarre house.
And then during my eighth grade, I got caught in the rain. A torrential downpour, a lot like ooty. The smell of wet earth and rain and thunder was sweet ambrosia to my senses.
It was just like coming home.
And I was, home.
Coimbatore became my home.
And now, I’m twenty two.
Eleven years later, a lot has changed.
No one respects R. S. Puram anymore, at least not as the youth destination it once was. There are malls and plenty of big shot eateries and stuff. The trees are vanishing, replaced by goatee-wearing hulks who drive around terrorizing old women . The air isn’t as pure, the people aren’t as familiar and the shops aren’t as affordable.
But then, sometimes, when it rains, when the smell of the earth comes wafting through my window, it reminds me of my childhood. Reminds me of better days. Reminds me of home.
It also reminds me of what I’m leaving behind. A lifetime of memories, a plethora of streets with fading footprints, a collection of implausible dreams, churning with the dust .
It was , with tears and sobs, that I set foot in this city.
It is with tears and sobs, that I say goodbye.
You will be missed, you will be loved.
And you will always, always…..be home.