When my cousin, Smitha told my about her daughter’s first day at play school and about how all the kids sat in a big circle and cried as their parents left them alone (with 14 other wailing kids of course) in a place they’d never been before. Less than two years of attachment was enough to make little Avani cry for amma, why should I ever have to justify crying myself to sleep every single night being so many miles away from my family of 28 years or my love of nearly 6 years. Being the older daughter, I was always expected to stand up independently to be a good example for my little sister. I believe I did for the most part starting the day I made her sit behind me on my BSA champ and rode away till Malleswaram because that’s what older sisters do. That’s what Smitha had done with me and for me, it was surely a sign of having grown up and being brave.
Ever since, I think I have always believed myself to be fairly brave and independent until my husband, Karthik visited me here in Jakarta. While we walked together down the shady alley from my hotel leading up to the mall, he held my hand and none of the cat calling of perverted men around mattered anymore because I felt so safe to have my hand clasped quite firmly by my husband. It was not until this moment had I realised how protected I have felt being a wife. The pseudo feminist in me had challenged any feelings of meekness whatsoever even if such arose especially in the last one year of being away from home.
Walking home alone at really wee hours in Barcelona had never once made me feel this exposed as I do here. I think it’s because Asians in general are more curious, they are starers, respecting privacy is not a virtue, being overbearing is a birthright. I spend most of my waking hours working in a warehouse with warm people and wet bathrooms. While not at work, I spend the rest of my waking hours looking for a place to stay for the following week. What could be more comforting than not having a place you could call home atleast for a week, right?
Having been away from home for 7 months already, one would imagine it should be easier by now but oddly enough it gets harder by the day. Sometimes, I wonder if I am no different from baby Avani, the only difference being that I’d never be able to seek solace in group crying therapy as the other kids around me lie crouched beneath their social media facades.