The Pull of Home

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Wind carried a butterfly through the open window into our cab. The butterfly kept fluttering its beautiful and fragile wings and kept attempting to fly out of the cab. I was a witness of the efforts it made till it succeeded in exiting. It happened yesterday. Before we continue I must mention that the butterfly was not the one in the image above that my brother had taken. I have put it here to represent its species. Yesterday’s butterfly was plainer and it was yellow in colour.

The journey of the butterfly launched many questions in my mind. I know the stories of pet dogs returning to their owners and old house, after having travelled hundreds of kilometres. There are birds that are famous for their return to their home after having flown over half the world, the same is true of certain species of fish and other mammals. All these non-human entities are given a kind of special status because of their special quality: of feeling and responding to the pull of home. I, among humans, also deserve some kind of special status. I have been feeling the pull of home for nearly a decade now, and the pull is at least as strong today as it was back then, maybe more.

I am an abnormal case, not in the negative sense of the word. I am not like the other “normal” humans for whom uprooting is an understandable and digestible process. I know at least three (and a half) persons among my family and friends who felt the pull of Kasi for a long time before purging the pull and the city from their system. The metros of India and abroad claimed them as theirs, and they willingly gave in, very happily too. They have sent their roots, in various degrees and to varying depths, into the ground beneath their feet. They have started belonging. The last fortnight added the half case of purgation to my case book.

I have had many friends nearly double my age. I remember being proud of the fact that I did not acquire immature friends, long back in Kasi. The kind of conversation I liked, and the types of issues they used to be about, demanded a certain level of maturity in thought that was difficult to find in my age group. So I used to sit with people much older than my around twenty years, i.e. in a comparably venerable company. One of my friends used to love Kasi from the core of his heart and had planned to settle down there after his retirement from his public sector job. He got retired. His son got a job in an Indian metro and daughter went abroad. He first started being away from Kasi for long stretches of thime, and, finally, sold his house and left it for good. Time takes its toll on all relation. Why shall one’s relation with one’s city be spared?

Why does that pull scare, others and me? It scares me because I know there’s a definite danger of its turning uncontrollable in a not-so-impossible future. It scares them because they rightly suspect something like that too. Why the fear of the return?

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