With big dreams, with full imagination, and with an empty pocket, he left India.
“Success”, he told himself when he landed in USA; he was twenty-six.
Since he was a little kid, just like every other kid in his town, his ambition was to go overseas. That is how he was raised.
The culture, the people, the society, and the way everybody was …… everything was different, very different. The life in California was not what he had imagined.
But, he adapted.
It was a big adjustment over the years, many compromises at every turn. In spite of all that, he did not complain much; after all this was his own decision – going abroad.
All those days, all those years in America, he felt homesick. He missed the life he had left behind. The childhood memories, the old friends, the open fields – he often day-dreamed the life that used to be. At times, he felt empty inside. He wished he could go back; go back to his real home, his real life.
He worked hard. He made lots of money; a lot of money if you think in Indian Rupees.
The recession came; he lost his job – the high paying engineering job he took for granted. He looked for another job, half-heartedly. No luck. Perhaps he was secretly wishing not to work in US anymore.
“May be this is a sign from the God! My be I belong back home – in India,” he thought, he rationalized.
“My own people, my own culture, my own skin tone, my own mother tongue – that is my place; that is where I should be!” The recession made it easier for him to decide – it was time for him to go back. It was time to cure his nostalgia permanently.
Eight years older, moustache missing and 25 pounds heavier, he arrived in his home town. The town, however, was not the same as he had left behind. The side-streets where he wandered aimlessly, the school where he learned to day-dream, the grocery store around the corner, the peepul tree next to the pond, the pond itself…. were all gone. He could hardly recognize any of it. Everything had changed. The friends, the neighbors, the neighbors’ houses, the relatives, the relatives’ affection – nothing was the same anymore.
Everybody had moved on with their own lives. The time moves on; it never waist for anyone.
He was stranger in his own town. The traces of his old life – everything he was nostalgic about, were long gone.
Now, he was an outsider. The life and the town he had left behind had moved on. He lived in the ‘new’ town missing the ‘old’ place – the place of his youth, the place of his childhood. It felt like a different place altogether.
He came back from America for something that he had missed so dearly all those years, but it was not there anymore. It was not anywhere other than in the figments of his own memories.
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