It makes me sad when people ask me “where are you from?” It’s a simple question, which more often than not occurs on first conversations almost every time I have one. By the normal tone it carries, it appears to be straight-forward, a two plus two four, with a singular statement known to someone by-heart. The problem is – it is anything, but that. I take it sportingly, though the whole messy situation where I have to admit that I don’t know where I belong to is sad. There is no city that is mine, no town that I own or is from. No Street that I can associate family legacy with or no set of surroundings from where I can link a cross web of my roots to. It can now be officially said – I belong to the place called “nowhere”.
The nowhere is not like a complete blank page. It is a result of chaos that comes when scribbles with no pointers clutter a book and one find difficulty to read lines out of it. It is a result of a line written somewhere but now lost between pages of a thick journal. This “nowhere” is probably a clement-town of memories. It has a picture in my mind. A picture with no name… something that I understand but can’t give a social nomenclature to; It is difficult to point it out singularly on a map of some over populated politically messed up state, but on a globe of emotional turbulence it finds a path, completely unique and melancholically traceable.
It has a set of neighbors, a group of friends and enemies ranged across time and phases of life, miraculously living in the same society all-together. It has a school where I go, having the best and worst teachers that I have met all these years in different schools that I had to go to every New Year. It has a park – the one that I played football in during high school. It has a Paan shop whose owner greets me and smiles to me, every time I do an evening stroll to grab an unapologetic cigarette after bunking college. It has the house of the girl who has beautiful long hairs and walks on her terrace reading the poetry book, after taking a bath, smelling all fruity and allowing her hairs to be left loose so that they can dry in playful sunshine and flirt with nature. It has a window of her room where I can see her dance in the evening while I try to scribble about the way she looks on a 2006 diary back cover. College buses run everywhere in it, songs are played on loud mobile handsets in them. There is a square where lovers meet. They fear their parents and meet secretly for short duration which includes mostly seeing into each other’s eyes practicing songs of love recited as incommunicado. It is a place where children chase each other on bicycles. They race around otherwise but also have mannerism to greet old-age people taking doctor recommended walks in the same park. It is a town where breakfast outlets are hangout joints. People eat the most unhygienic good with utter delight and never fall ill. It’s a town that stands for the world I saw, as a child.
I find myself scratching my head with utter confusion when it comes to filling of tabs in online forms that says “permanent address” or “temporary address”. It is even more confusing, when a side check box asks me “if these both are same for me or not”. Down the pedagogy on the same page – things like pin codes, landline numbers and others of same category makes me go blank. I have no idea to any of this. Twenty two years down the line, a million forms filled, I still make calls to ask my father asking “what is to be filled”, depending on time in which this form shall hold relevance and where everything shall be during that whole span. I hate and love the fact that my father had a transferrable job. We moved places, we moved on and on – till a time came when addresses were changed so often that they lost meanings or permanence associated with them. We moved on and on – till a time came when parental homes and villages were visited so often that they gradually lost identity and feeling of warmth under a pile of time sand. We moved on – and on – till a time came, when as a teen, I forgot who I was. In midst of an age where identity crisis are suffered by everyone, I probably had the worst of that because destiny as they call it – gave me enough opportunities to meet new people and lie about me, till a time came when I forgot who I actually was or who I actually am.
This is meaningless. It is also sad. I don’t know how to explain the mixed set of wasted effort that follows every time I think about it. It is not an adventure to not belong to any place. It’s kind of “is being an orphan feeling”, only difference being that Orphans has an excuse of not belonging to any place. They have fate to blame; I wonder how blasphemous it would be to say the same for me. I need to apply for passport tonight. I have been planning to do that for over a year now. I get lazy in between, lazy to make a call to someone – to ask what to fill – in the question that asks – where is my permanent home, where is the city that I belong to?