I happened to travel by train from Bhubaneshwar to Bangalore a few days back on the 19th of July. It was a rainy morning. It was nostalgic in various aspects. The journey coincidentally was precisely after ten years when I first left home to study in Bangalore. It was another July the 18th of 2002 when I embarked on a similar journey. A journey that took an unassuming small town boy to one of the major cosmopolitans and further. As a young lad leaving the safe confines of home, the presence of numerous relatives around, and nothing to worry about other than studies primarily, it was and shall for all times to come be a momentous occasion, a landmark occasion and a decisive occasion in all my life.
With a heavy heart, that stayed heavy for many weeks, and teary eyes, when the train to Chennai tugged away from Bhubaneswar in the night exactly ten years back, very little was visible ahead. There was a vision but there were lot of apprehension weighing over that vision. Everything around was a change that was happening. And change of colourful proportions and myriad ways did happen. Three years in Bangalore, three in Manipal studying and another three and a half in Manipal working are in their own respects eventful enough to be written books on. But more on it later. For now the reflection is on the journey, the passage of ten years away from hearth.
A lot of things have changed. From travelling in sleeper class to air conditioned coach, from travelling with big luggage bags to small handy bags, from having vacations spread over a month to taking leave for just over a week, from travelling with a bunch of friends to travelling alone, from being trying food at vendors at stations to being choosy about it now, to singing away numbers to travelling quietly now and many more. Is it because of the advance in age, a pseudo modernism, responsible behaviour, all of the above in varied proportions or is it simply the passing away of innocence?
Staying away from home from years together leaving behind parents and relatives is probably not an idea that finds acceptance in most people, most because there always is a bunch who wishes to run away from the shackles of homes, for reasons both good and bad. Lack of opportunities, delayed development, adverse social climate among others are some of the geographical and social reasons which forces young boys and girls to migrate to greener pastures. But then historically homo sapiens have always done that, left the comforts of present settlement to look for better opportunities elsewhere.
One is reduced to a guest in his own home. In the ten years of staying away from home, a generous sum total of vacations and leaves put together would amount to one year in which we are mere guests at home. And it is a sad fact. All your favourite dishes are cooked for those few days, no one reprimands you if you are there for a short time, relatives call you over for lunch or dinner, and you receive gifts while you leave, a short vacation may be planned, and that is about it, all features pointing to you being a guest. And why not, when one would spend a mere 30 days of 365 in a year.
Much water has flown under the bridge. It ought to anyway, thats the way of life. Ten years, accounting to little over one third of the entire lifetime being spent away from home is significant. Bereft of the love of parents, unable to help them, absent at numerous family functions, missing out on growing years of few and ageing of others, have marred these years. On the other hand establishing a career of sorts, forging lifelong relations, excelling in few areas, earning money, and improving quality of life, which are all debatable, have been hallmarks of these years. When one weighs in a balance these two sides, it behaves like a wild see-saw more than a balance.