We use bricks, cement, sweat, years of toil and all that money you saved dearly to build a house. It is never an easy pursuit and it’s a tough commitment. You always set out to build your dream house but even though you may never be fully convinced, you do end up building it. I saw my parents do it. They spent their entire married lives traversing the lengths of this country, always with a tiny eye on that house they would finally build back ‘home’. They collected furniture from all over the country, little tidbits that would make their home their own and started on a two year adventure that resulted in the realization of a dream. My sister and I would never feel the same as they do about it, we may never understand but when we see them proudly show of what they created, we do realize that we were always being set up for a sibling, a rather large one at that. One that was many years in the making..
Being my parent’s son, I have now inherited this perpetual search from them. Not really in terms of building a house yet but atleast to accept that I would need to make some city my own some day. That some day I would have to settle and accept that ‘this’ would be the place I will live for the rest of my life. My mind though, is alien to such a realization. I have tried hard in the past to make many cities my home, to believe that I can feel that way about a place. Back in 2009 when I left Mangalore, for the first time ever, I knew I was leaving a part of myself in a city. In the past I had lived in countless places but never needed to return to those places to feel complete. An apt way to understand this need would be to remember Voldemort’s ‘Horcruxes’ from the Harry Potter series. Parts of his soul that he broke and distributed across the country to attain immortality. While I would like to believe I will not grow up to be a dark wizard in desperate need of a nose job, I do, in a rather twisted way, feel similarly when I go to Mangalore. As I come in contact with a part of my soul I begin to feel immortal. But then again, there was always this latent realization that Mangalore would never be home. That I was always destined to leave the place only to return to feel complete, temporarily.
Upon reaching Chennai in 2011, I had a distinct feeling that something special was in store here. I knew it the first day as I sat in a coffee shop in the middle of IIT. It came to me like a lightning bolt and instantly I created my second Horcrux. This one was going to be super strong, insanely enchanted and I was going to protect it with all I had. Like my parents had done a few years back, I had begun to lay the foundations for my home. Things moved sparklingly along. I moved from belief to love to unadulterated joy in being a child of this magnificent city. I began to fall in love with its roads, its street corners, the quirks of its people, their food, their restrictions on alcohol, their insane adoration for cricket, the intelligence of the women, the distinct identity they flaunted, everything..just about everything clicked with me. The respect they had for their city, their loyalty and determination to make it better. All these things are attributes very few people who have lived longer in the city managed to pick on but I saw it, because I chose to see it and accept it. Because I chose to change for the sake of the foundation I was building.
2014, will be the year I move to Bangalore. A move I had always felt, right at the back of my heart, would be inevitable. Chennai had made me question this feeling and had ensured me that I could deal with this question much later but it wasn’t ready to deal with what was to follow itself. I look back to the days my parents felt frustrated about the blueprints and designs, about the contractor and the pace of work, about the time they were devoting and the returns they were getting. They did not give up and they did not change their mind. They had a foundation which could not be shaken.
So I continue this journey in the search of this foundation, knowing very well that while a Horcrux lies in Chennai and I would keep returning here to feel complete, I do realize another Horcrux will now need to be created. I will also continue to weaken myself every time I create one but in the way life has written out its plan for me I have a feeling it is a reality I must begin to accept.
I will miss this beautiful city and in its individuals and experiences lies my foundation, an incomplete one, but one I will cherish forever.