I’ve returned to Cambridge after two months away, which is the longest duration I’ve spent away from the city since I moved here about a year and a half ago. Previous best: two weeks, achieved in November 2021. That feels surreal, especially given that when I was in Gandhinagar, I’d routinely spend two months away for holidays between terms, and in Bengaluru, I’d spend four months away for term. Aside from work, it is the pandemic that has led to these circumstances, and it was only natural that I had several apprehensions about leaving. This town is tiny, and it is filled with quietude. Being at home, anywhere, is as far away from this as possible. There is always someone to meet, or something to do, and it was only on my last day in town that we sat as a family and did nothing. It was in the full knowledge that I was departing for foreign lands that my parents and I spent all day in each other’s vicinity, not doing anything meaningful or memorable. Except, every moment of that day, Saturday, felt filled with a gravitas beyond compare. Amid breaks from my laptop I caught my dad staring at me in wonderment, and I found myself reciprocating that gaze. In the silence that filled those moments, I sensed – and he confirmed this later that evening – he would miss me. I will miss them too.
I am filled with emotion being back. This is where I feel my life is, despite my non-attachment to places. This is where my friends are, several of whom have messaged, whom I’m waiting to meet. This is where all the knowledge I seek appears to sit, and the ease of finding any book I desire is not something I take for granted. Despite everything feeling familiar, it has been long enough away for me to step away and ask, is this how it’s always been?
That is something I feel thankful for. It feels like I have on a new pair of glasses (I literally do), and all I hope for over the next few months is that these lenses help me change the bits and pieces I didn’t quite enjoy in the last stint here. First step: piano. The rest will fall into place.