Sunday, May 23, 2010

Death is the informant

We all grew up listening to this quote from Shakespeare: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” The quote is simple, yet it carries a slightly altered meaning depending on your age, time, and place. For teenagers infatuated by their sweethearts, summer vacations explain this quote. For immigrants, the annual or once in two years trip to their motherland might hold the same meaning.  And so forth.

Up until this morning, I didn’t realize death would have the same effect on me. Today is my mausi and mausa’s wedding anniversary (My mother’s sister and her husband). My mausi passed away in August of 2010. And for some reason, her death has affected me in ways I didn’t know were possible. It’s not like she and I were best friends. In fact, her daughters are much closer to my mother, in an obvious sort of way, than I was to my mausi. But there was always a connection. Her smile had different warmth for me compared to my other cousins. I could sense it even though I couldn’t comprehend it.

Some emotions betray eloquence; they are simply felt.

My mausi always made my small moments special. A few months ago, I wrote about how she celebrated my first book of poetry. Unlike most others from her generation, who were happy for me but ended the joy with a thoughtful email, she actually discussed my book with me. I appreciated her gesture then, but I didn’t realize how much I would miss her after she was gone.  I have a new book of poems coming out soon, and I wish my mausi were alive to discuss it with me.

Today, for breakfast, I made something that was my mausi’s favorite dish. I remembered how she and my mom would enjoy a cup of good mid-morning-coffee along with Indian savories. The flashbacks from my childhood have consumed me all morning. All in a good way.

I am not exactly the most emotionally expressive person. I don’t condone public display of affection. I write about things more than I partake in face-to-face conversation about emotions and stuff (See, I couldn’t even complete the sentence eloquently). You won’t really hear me say “Miss you,” “Love you,” and all that. So, aside from complimenting my mausi on her ridiculously good looks and awesome collection of saris, I never said anything “meaningful.” Sometimes, it’s the death of a person that makes us realize how much they meant to us. I hope my mausi can hear, what I haven’t articulated, from wherever she is.


More until next time, 


Copyright © 05. 23.2010

"Absence and death are the same - only in death there is no suffering" ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What is home?

The older I get, the blurrier the definition of home becomes for me. Is it where I was born or is it the dwelling where I spent maximum number of years growing up or is it the place my husband and I started our lives together? Do geographic boundaries matter or is home truly where your heart is? By that token, can you have multiple homes because my heart is in New York, in India where my parents live, and the boarding school/college towns where I grew up. I have questions with no right or wrong answers.

When I shared my essay (“Homesick in My Thirties"), published in Khabar Magazine, with my friends on Facebook, I received responses echoing the same sentiments and challenges I face as an immigrant. And for people with children, the situation seems more difficult. For the younger generation born in the US, America will always be home but for their parents (born in India and migrated to the US), both their motherland and adopted land remains home.

But not just that; even people, who haven’t moved out of their own countries, are unable to define one city as home. Globalization and opportunities have turned us in to both willing and unwilling nomads. When was the last time you met someone, from my generation, who had spent the last two decades in the same city or country?

Am I wrong to believe that the generation of immigrants older than mine has settled (emotionally) better than my people? See, things were different when people migrated to the west about forty-fifty years ago. Their home countries didn’t have much to offer, so they could make peace with their move. But my generation didn’t leave India because there weren’t good prospects there. The change was initiated by the search for a “good” life/different experience/ability to travel the world. 

Sometimes I wonder if having a choice is more difficult than not having one and if it makes the definition of "home" more nebulous?  

On a completely different note, a few of you told me that you couldn’t read the links I had attached in my last post (List of published poems). Here they are again:


More until next time, 


Copyright © 05. 13.2010

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” – Charles Dickens