Today is Onam. I’ll get wished – “Happy Onam”, and I’ll mutter a thanks/flash a smile, hopefully not weary/ type a ‘thanks’ with a smiley that will not reflect the emotions within. That’s perhaps apt, because there aren’t many emotions within. I concluded a Kerala visit last weekend, and felt compelled to figure out what I was feeling. – for Cochin, as always, and for Onam, because it was the season.
I sit in the fancy store, as D and another M swan around trying to find appropriate things to hang from their neck/ears/hair. They aren’t alone, there is an assortment of folks of their gender, all there for the same purpose. Sometime during their existence, the store owners figured out that those of the other gender would really be lost souls in such a place, so they made sure there was a corner where they could be lost souls without impinging on the ecstasy of the real shoppers. A nice goodwill gesture. And so there I sit, with my companion, which never fails to respond to my touch, and type a few words, which are then saved in the messages drafts folder. Alternately gawking and typing, and realising that the shoppers would be here again very soon, in search of the latest trends in accessories. Fashions change quickly, after all.
I move around the city that once used to be undisputed home, and familiar feelings bob up. Things have changed, and it is perhaps no longer undisputed. An old breakfast joint, which has many memories attached to it, has changed its name. I look up at an old building, hoping to catch a glimpse of the old lending library that set the tone for many current reading habits. It no longer exists. It is strange how, these days, when I go back to Cochin, I have mixed feelings. Where once there was only a sense of belonging, the changes have ensured that there is now also a sense of un-belonging. Earlier, I couldn’t fully grasp this feeling, could one be homesick at home? But then I remember a comment that Cyn had made on an old post – “An Idea called Home“, where she described it as being ‘homesick for a life stage’. There’s an image of Cochin that exists only in my mind, with many tags, its from an age long ago.
I watch a movie – ‘Rithu‘ (Seasons), in a theatre complex that had 3 screens from the time I knew it, back in the 80′s. Music composed by an old school pal. (that deserves a post too…soon) Its a lovely story about childhood friends, about how their relationship(s) change when they grow up, and how they themselves have changed. I realise that its not just places, we also ‘tag’ people at different stages of our lives and we often don’t bother to update the tag, a kind of self-conditioning. Parents, siblings, friends, relatives, they have all been tagged at some point and not updated after some point, the tags define how we behave with them at every point later in life. Over time, each believe they have different priorities/viewpoints/interests and so on, maybe that’s why sometimes when we are ready for a relationship, they aren’t, and vice versa. There’s a chance that we will miss the opportunity to form a bond. We fail each other, without even realising it. We change, we move on, but the tags, in many ways, remain constant.
I also realise that we do it to ourselves too – tags. We make images of ourselves which define what we say and do. We tag ourselves. We rarely acknowledge that and proceed to make up our own justifications, which suit us/others. They make sense at a particular point in time, they may or may not later. Yet, we live by them. Do we revisit the tags…objectively?
One of the reasons, I store thoughts and feelings here is because I want to look back. Who was I in that September of 2009, what was i feeling, what was i thinking, can i understand me at a later point? It is amazing how some earlier posts give perspectives about the self, that had been forgotten. Time has a way of distorting, hopefully these tags will aid me in objectivity at a later point.
Meanwhile, almost every shop has the ‘Onam Discount’ board put up. There are restaurants that have already announced their ‘sadya‘ rates. What is Onam to me? At a very young age, I had thought it was someone’s wedding since that was the other time we used to have a sadya on banana leaves. Memories – ten days of school holidays, a trip – most likely to Palakkad, meeting up with the vast set of paternal relatives and a few days of fun, collecting flowers for making pookkalams, dressing up in the traditional mundu, visits to temples, and so on. These are childhood memories and it is interesting how the memories dwindle as I look back to the later years of my life. The recent memories are somehow more indistinct, not separated much from the days before or after, except for the special (new) movies that get shown on television. I wonder whether I should stay back for a few more days and script a few new tags. I don’t. So, ironically, Onam survives, on its early tags. For now, I think that’s best. And as the line in that movie goes, I eagerly await the next Rithubhedam (change of seasons) of my mind.
until next time, thanks for tagging along on a mind ride