Monday, May 10, 2010

Coming Home

I just got back home after 40 days. It was an exciting trip to multiple places in the country. Vacation, work, visiting friends, attending conferences, meeting partners, doing review meetings - the works. And I have had a jolly good time. Enjoyed it all.

But it is heavenly to be home. Absolute bliss. Despite the fact that the place is covered with layers of dirt, there is no water in the refrigerator, there is no food in the kitchen, my household support staff is absconding, and the whole house would need at least two three days of back breaking work to get back to routine. However, I am ecstatic to be back.

After I reached home, I just flopped into bed and slept for 12 hours non-stop. Now, thats weird. I had slept well wherever I was, had eaten well, had rested well, and had travelled in fair bit of comfort. And yet, tiredness seeped out of me, in thin sheets, from my bones, my muscles and even my mind. It is delicious - this letting go and sinking into my familiar surroundings, and letting the tiredness ebb out of me.

I am taken aback by the level of tiredness I felt. I am not even aware this tiredness existed. How come I did not feel this tiredness before? Till yesterday, I was the alert professional, being swift on my feet and mind, working and networking with people, and enjoying myself with friends I was meeting after months. How come this tiredness is coming out day? Where was it yesterday, I wonder? Am I the only person who is feeling this way? And then, I saw - this was the same way it was hitting my twelve year old too. She too was just relaxing, thumbing her books, listening to music, all random, all familiar things, but her pace and languidness told me that she felt the same as I did. She was even smiling to herself as she was cleaning up her room. Unusual that.

I cast my mind back and remember many such home-comings. And yes, there is a pattern to this. No matter where I have been, no matter with whom, no matter how much I enjoyed being there - it has always been great to come back home. And always, I have slept for hours, with no care in the world, even when there were chores to be done, clothes to be laundered, stuff to be put back into shelves - pressing routine household chores that otherwise would keep me awake - but no, all that waits on the homecoming day. Homecoming is always that, a day to rest. Really really rest. Put all your bones down in a sack and sleep kind of rest.

I wonder, why is this so? I am not overly fond of my home, nor am I emotionally very invested in it, rented as it is. I run a simple household, and most stuff is there for its functional use, rather than its sentimental value. Maybe moving frequently has something to do with it. There is not much in my home that screams me, except maybe my books and some photographs. And still, why is there such a strong feeling of comfort with this place I call as home? Why does my mind, body and soul feel rested here, more here than anywhere else in the world?

I have a theory on this. Maybe we, as homo-sapiens species, have more territorial instincts that we are aware of. Whenever we move out of our territories, our age old, deep down primal animal brain, stiffens up, and tenses up to deal with all the unfamiliar sights it sees. Our gut screams caution, much like it must have done, thousands of years ago, when our brains were figuring out how to survive in the world. Whatever was unfamiliar could be dangerous, and we get into full-alert state to deal with whatever comes in the unfamiliar situations. And wherever we travel, this deep down animal brain of ours refuses to buckle down, and lower its guard. Its like a unseen watchdog, which is constantly looking out for lurking dangers. It stiffens up the muscles, gnarls up the gut and squares up the shoulders as well, all unknown to us.

It does not matter apparently to this watchdog brain that we are amongst friends, or that we are amongst places that are probably even safer than home. This watchdog brain also has little value for comfort - better springy mattresses, heavily carpeted floors, air conditioned environs et al mean nothing to it. It just knows it is in a territory that it has not seen too often, and is scared about it. This watchdog primal brain of ours does not communicate well with our rational, verbal and senses dominated aesthetic brain, and does not give a damn to it - and despite the pleasure signal that the aesthetic brain gives to it, continues to look for lurking dangers. Just in case.

And then, when we return home, our watchdog brain now sees the old familiar territory it is in, and now, releases it guard. It now knows all the dangers here, it knows every visual image, it knows every sound, it knows every smell - and this place is safe. Now, it packs up its scared feelings, and lets all the tension go from the muscles. And then, it sleeps. A sleep that it has not known for the days that were spent in travelling, in laughing with friends, in drinking in beauty and moving about in luxurious hotels.

At home now, our watchdog releases our muscles and our guts, and sleeps. And we relax. We feel blessed that we have come home. Not because it is the prettiest, nor because it is the nicest, or it is the most comfortable, or even that it has people we love - but simply because it is familiar, it is the most well known territory that we know on this earth. And now, at home, we rest - in a way that we could not rest earlier. The kind of deep rest that nurtures, rejuvenates and uplifts.

Being home is sweet, indeed, in a primal way.


Some dreams die early. And that's a relief. The ones who die, even loved cherished ones, can be put behind and one can get on with life.

The ones that I am tormented with are dreams that refuse to die. Dreams that hold me in their bear hug and refuse to let me go. Dreams that do not let me accept reality the way I find it. Dreams that continue to keep me awake at night even though I by now know that they can be just that - dreams.

There was a time in my life when I loved dreams. They were visions of what could be. And they were mesmerizing, seductive. I used to surrender to them whenever I was at leisure, and I used to hatch plans of making them real. Some of them did turn into reality - some by those hatched plans, some by benevolence, and some by providence - and they promptly lost their seductive appeal as they turned real. In a way, they died for me, even though they technically did not die.

And then there were the ones who died. Died because they got killed. Some of them were killed by loved ones, some by destiny's cruel turns, some were born weak, and some of them were killed. By me. The ones I murdered are the ones that I sometimes still remember, the rest now have been forgotten, as they were the ones who I had to wrestle with, and kill them before they killed me.

And then, there are these dreams that live with me now. Some of them I think I still cherish, though I am not sure, not all the time, anyway. Some of them I have tried killing at some time. For some, I have fought for them for years, with back breaking passion, with loved ones, not-so-loved ones, and downright evil ones. Some I have fought with - days and nights on end, sometimes with hard reason, sometimes with brilliant harsh reality, but they have survived. If I kill them, and thats only if I could - Lord knows I have tried - they would kill a part of me. Not leave me whole. Or they may just take me down with them. They are too strong.

I am tired of these dreams of mine. They used to be pleasant to me earlier, not anymore. Maybe they have waited for too long for some action from my side - an action either I could not, or would not do, or providence would not let me do. These days, they do not let me be happy. Lately, they been hollering for attention, screaming for action, and worse, have sometimes made me drop perfectly acceptable situations to run after them. They have me work for them, slavishly, desperately, ruinously. They mock me when I see myself in the mirror, they laugh at me when I laugh on small triumphs, they kick me out of comfortable sleep... Oh, they are demons who feed on me!

Go away, Dreams! Go away. Yes, I no longer need you. I don't need to run after your grand visions, your unquenchable thirst and your deep desires. Go away and leave me in peace. I am too old a woman now, and I now just want to be. Just be what I am, and not what I could be.

Please just go.