Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Magpie Happiness

I write a lot about feelings. I find them slippery. I get overwhelmed by them, and then behave in ways I am not proud of. I have found that they can be fleeting – passing clouds I shouldn’t pay attention to, that buried underneath them is objective truth. I have also learned that they are guideposts and they show me the way and I really should listen to them.

This afternoon, I read a column in which Natasha Badhwar talks about family, writing, life. In one of the articles, she talks about a family trip to Rajasthan, visiting cenotaphs and small towns, her daughters buying mirror-studded pens that they love and that she thinks of as trinkets. As I read, I enter this feeling in my heart that I know is the love for a place.

A big, glorious sun dips low in my mind. It almost touches the vast green fields on the outskirts of Jaipur. In Bombay, people roll up their trousers as they wade through knee-deep water. I watch from the window as the rain pours down. Later, we will go and buy rain-coats and water-proof school bags before my sister and I start school here.

We stop at the border crossing that separates Punjab and Himachal for our annual childhood trip to my paternal grandparents’ home. Where have we come from? We say Delhi, proudly. In Baroda, I hold my naani’s hand and we go to the small market in the refinery township to buy cream rolls. Coming back, we thread our way through the children’s park with the stone ducks that look like origami fold-ups. The house has a garden, from which I pluck flowers in the morning and carry them inside for the morning pooja.

All these are different physical places in India, but they fuse together in my heart. I don’t know where they end, and I begin. Here in the States, I sometimes get irritated when people first look at me through the lens of my culture. I am Indian first, and then anything else. That’s not all I am, I feel like saying. It isn’t, yet it is. I am not all the things I have seen and heard and felt and experienced. And yet I am.

Feelings of loneliness still strike me. But now I don’t struggle with them as much. I sink into their murky depths. I know I’ll get to the other side. I have done this before in the last many months. I think of all that I’ve been and all that I’m becoming. I unwrap a little of the labels, and I also unwrap a little of the love.  


  1. Ritu.. How come I don't remember the stone ducks... I know something like that would be there.. but I don't remember!!! all I remember is the sand and the giant two storied slide!! this is 6/6 !!!

    Wonderful imagery Ritu

    1. Thank you Hersh. I guess we all remember different things. I remember the ducks and a giant giraffe I always tried to climb up on (it had a ladder at the back) and that I never managed to.

    2. you mean you couldnt climb up his ass ???? [:)...:)...:)]
      I remember the giraffe... Yellow with black polka dots...

    3. Smiling Hersh .. climb on his back :)