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Longing And Belonging

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Sometime in the January of 2015, I stepped onto a podium for the last time to deliver the farewell speech, one of my final duties as Head Girl. I remember praying to the Universe to hold my saree in place and to not let me trip in my unimaginably uncomfortable heels. Melodramatic and embarrassingly maudlin as ever, I ended with:

फासले मिटा कर आपस में प्यार रखना

दोस्ती का ये रिश्ता हमेशा बरकरार रखना

बिछड़ जाए कभी आपसे हम

आँखों में हमेशा हमारा इंतज़ार रखना

Amidst what I hope now was roaring applause, I went back, danced the day away with friends, foes & silly school suitors alike, hugged & cried & laughed & rejoiced, and then, moved on. In a few months, I passed out of school, and in another few, we ceased reminiscing our cherished memories, the very ones we promised to treasure for eternity. Our varying lives caught up with us all too soon, and eventually school and all its simplistic glory faded away.

I remember this one professor, although we called them teachers back then. In 9th grade, the year before we passed out, she berated me, my integrity, my character and the position I held in the School Council publicly in the classroom. But, the next year, when she was our class-teacher, she was the first person to congratulate me on every achievement and the last person I sought blessings from before I left school behind. Today, if I run into her, only a sense of gratitude and familiarity wells up within me. I suppose, only school teachers can have that profound, that strange an impact on you.

Sports Day and inter-house rangoli competitions, canteen rushes and post-lecture bells, uniforms and PTAs. Why is it that going on ceaselessly about the days past is the easiest, and the hardest thing to do? Now, I'm sitting here recounting endless tales, remembering how I vowed to not college pass me by the same way. To seize every day, to be aware of every moment. A wise person said, you only live once. A wiser person said, you only die once, you live everyday. But now, I'm sitting here, realizing it all went by before I could even get used to it. I graduate in a few months, and start my adult life, doing an adult job, paying my adult bills. But on nights like these, the ones reserved for nostalgia with a side of tears? I get to go back. I go, and I live, knowing that when I return to reality the next morning, I'll have it in me to live yet another adult day.

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