When I first arrived at this house in Vizag, I couldn’t stand the sight of it. I longed desperately to be back in Durgapur, not because I was fond of the town, but because I was familiar with it and the house we lived in there. Vizag wasn’t new by any stretch of imagination: I had lived here for twelve years before work took me away in 2008. However, returning here involved yet another process of forgetting and learning; it might sound silly, but those who have moved frequently and lived in several houses will perhaps understand what it means to get used to new shadows, to leaking taps and trees rustling against window-panes, unusually bright streetlamps or sunlight spilling into the bedroom in the morning at an angle they’re not accustomed to.
I’d visited this house atleast thrice earlier, when I was a schoolgirl, visiting people who lived here. It felt very strange as we moved in, though; without the vaguely familiar dining-table, the elderly Bengali lady in her starched white saree, the senior from my school, this house could have been meant for just about anybody. Thin beams of light fell across the undulating floor from unexpected chinks in the windows, and a sudden movement caught in the corner of my eye would eventually prove to be a branch set in motion by a breeze. The knowledge that a snake lurked in the straggly undergrowth outside wasn’t very comforting. A sudden spell of heavy rain had set the weeds growing, and now the wildflowers ran riot amongst the carefully planted bushes of the previous occupants of the house.
Funny then, that with so many forebodings and misgivings, it took me just about a month to get used to living in this house. The nightly concerts of the insects are a treat, and I like to watch for grey clouds on the verandah, sitting on the sun-warmed steps and waiting for the rain to fall. Butterflies flit busily through the bushes, barely settling on one flower before they’re off seeking the next: how do they ever make a living at this rate? The garden is a riot of colour, and just as old flowers begin to wilt and wither, new ones take their place- it pulsates with life and verve.
I don’t know if it was all in the mind. I don’t miss Durgapur one bit now, and wonder how I could ever have thought I’d be nostalgic for it, notwithstanding its mishti and simple life. Despite having been quite a nomad, I’m in the habit of visiting every little nook and corner I know ‘one last time’, but I also know that I almost always have to move just when I begin to get too attached to a place or a person. I don’t know if it is a universal law: but it does put me on my guard, and I’m learning to enjoy life without letting the strings of attachment burden me.