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  • Writer's pictureKaren Divya Shekar

Hometown Blues

I long for the mountains of my homeland. In their soft peaks I feel my peace. I watch the rocks studded on their gentle sides, and wonder how magnificent the road is that leads to my home.

Is it mine?

Truly mine?

The people, their ways, their outlook, their food. Why do we put curry leaves in all our cooking? Why do we use coconut? How silly. How can we not!

I long for the people of my homeland, a people dark skinned and proud. Hardworking and enterprising they prize astuteness of mind and simplicity of life. So evident in the way they dress, speak, and think, is their heart. A people very free, ruled only by their own, a people blessed in every way. And yet, my people, vice lives in you, the way it does in every other nation and race.

The Eastern Ghats are my sisters and I must stop myself from laying prostrate in worship! No, these do not inspire awe, yet the emotion they evoke is enough for me. They are my beloved mountains. I close my eyes and find myself dancing on their slopes, one with Nature, one with the soil, the earth, the people and the world.

These are my people, and this is my home.

Yet I am miles away, in a distant land, a foreigner with a foreign religion and a strange tongue. I live apart, as one cast out, cut off from the natural bonds of clan and kin.

There rages within me that pain of being separated from you, the land of the Tamils. The heat that burns the skin, the salt that sticks to my hair, the people whose language is as ancient as the world itself. I love the colour of your skin, my people. It is the colour of my sister, not of me. I blended well into the foreign land, its people thought I was one of them! Never!

Separate me not from my homeland, a land that neither claims me nor calls out to me, nor knows of the sickness I feel when I am afar. I dream of the house.

The house my grandfather built, but now I prefer it in my memories alone and not in its modern updated version.

Motherland, do you feel the pain of separation from your children born on other shores? Do you cry out in tears? “Bring my children back home to me! Let me dote on them!” I was made from your red earth, the sun burns my skin red and not brown.

I never suffered the pain your people suffered, I never participated in the work of upliftment of the nation. I have lived as a foreigner, and I continue to do so, though it is well within my power to return.

Mother, you live deep within me, core of my heart is your home.

Every time I visit you, I long to stay back. But I am warned that home is also a place of jealousy, of secret strife and clannish thoughts. Something my family is content to stay far away from! But to live as a foreigner for the better part of my life, with only a foreign language to express myself in, what a heart-rendering prospect!

Aren’t we all foreigners and wanderers? The human experience is as transitory as life itself! Close your eyes and think of home.

Is it a person or a place, a state of being or an emotion? For me home will always be in the wandering, in the running, in the fleeing, from I don’t know what!

Running away, not running to.

Soon that will change. Soon my soul will find something worth running to, and then I will have found my true home.

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