Home is and will always be India for me - at least that is what I tell myself. DB assures me I am delusional to think that and I can ever merge seamlessly after so many years of being away. That nostalgia is easy to indulge in from a distance and reality will be too jarring to stomach. He says, I would be better served to allow emotional roots to spread where my physical roots have for a while - reconcile with having those from my native land severed.
When I read articles like this about the life of women in India, I understand why my longing for India has been limited to the idyllic days of my early childhood growing up in a semi rural places where the community looked out for the safety of all children.My home spread into my neighbors' yards and beyond the into the small neighborhood. We ran free and wild until dusk all summer - I long for those days because they have not existed in my life since. The longing for India is for the country of my childhood and not that of my youth - a place and time where I never felt safe. When I long for for home, I blot out all parts of my experience there that were unpleasant and romanticize what is left to airbrushed perfection far removed from reality.
I do not want to remember that once childhood had past, my parents turned hyper vigilant about my safety, my freedom disappeared forever and the presence of a protective male figure became a constant in my life. I learned equality went only so far, that I would never again experience the exhilarating abandon of my childhood running across a paddy field, the wind in my face, racing with my friends to the reach the horizon.
There was something so special and magical about that freedom, that I was willing to give up the comfort of all things familiar, a much easier (not to mention protected) life to come live in the other end of the world and start from zero. I feel an immense sense of sadness overcome me- for all those girls in India who must choose between risking such horrific abuse to pursue their right to freedom or living in a gilded cage (like I once did) - safe and enslaved.
Today, my daughter J and I begin tag teaming. Here is her take on India and Nostalgia.