Transitions

11 Apr

When I first graduated from college, I wrote this. I’m about to graduate from gradschool. I wonder if I will feel the same again!?

It is a time of transitions. Presently, I am transitioning from college to corporate America, from girlhood to womanhood, from the overstretched fringes of childhood into adulthood. I have been told that this is a transition to savor. I am young, free and financially independent; I have been told that this time will never return and I must make most of it. However, at the cost of sounding ungrateful I must say that the misery of waking up every morning without fail to go to work, the pungent stench of bleach poured down the toilet to clean it and the tired half hearted attempts at home cooked food are marring the brilliance of that fat pay check. My once snazzy apartment that now lies in chaotic disarray, overwhelmed with my collection of “stuff,” is yet another reminder of the pains of transitioning.

My life spills out from the closets, the half unpacked cardboard boxes and bounces of the bare walls of my apartment that are presently devoid of the warmth and magic of pictures from home, notes from friends and colorful objects that I adore. As I sit in self imposed loneliness and misery amidst the clutter, fighting with it the painful battle of organization, I feel homesick.

I miss my mother’s hands lifting, folding and hanging the contents of my suitcase (and my life) into organization and manageability. I miss being able to dump my troubles onto my father’s ever ready shoulders with a cry of, “Abba!” I crave Nani’s cooking, and miss the luxury of hot food being served at odd hours of the day and night. I miss the facilities of Fazal Chacha and Ibrahim Chacha, who can produce light and fluffy chapatti after chapatti, drive me all over town and back and fetch cold bottles of Pepsi from the nearby store, whenever I desire. I hate transitioning.

I feel trapped. My immigration status is in transition too. It’s being changed from student status to working status. And while I am neither F-1 nor H-1, I cannot travel outside the US. This makes my feelings of homesickness even more profound. While in college, I had gone home twice every year. Comfortable in the knowledge that the trip home was only a plane ticket away, I enjoyed each day at school because it meant being a day closer to going home. Undoubtedly, the plane ticket meant many hours of an on campus job (or one distressed phone call to Abba!) but it was always within reach.  Now I can afford the plane ticket any day. It’s only a weeks worth of work. Ironically, it is now that I am temporarily stuck!

Stuck, but not completely, moving but only partially, growing but one dimensionally; this odd state of transition is taking its toll on me. It’s making me more philosophical. Philosophy has never been my forte. This is probably why I can, for the first time ever, truly comprehend the enormity of migration yet I still fail to philosophize satisfactory answers to the many questions that I have about migration, the partition of 1947 and the subsequent transitions that millions underwent.

Sleeping in cotton tents and writing office memos on sheets of recycled paper; eating rations of rice and grains in limited quantities but walking with the “freedom bounce” in their step. I do not understand how the growling of the empty stomachs was pacified by anthems of freedom. Neither do I understand how sleep came easily to those, under open skies, who had never slept a day in anything but beds of the finest cottons and silks ensconced in houses where the furniture was oak and teak and the silver had been scuffed only due to use by several generations of men with the rough and callused hands that had built and ruled empires.

The questions come as if I’m in a rapid fire round. My thoughts are deep and profound. Depression and homesickness lend themselves well to profundity. The battle with organization has long been lost. I sit amidst the dust bunnies and continue to philosophize. I am no closer to organizing my apartment than I am to finding the answers to the realities of partition, the meaning of life or the meaning of my current state of life. I’m still philosophizing and being profound but Philosophy doesn’t help. The problem with Philosophy (as I learnt from a professor at Yale) is that it doesn’t provide answers but teaches you how to ask better questions. My head is crowded with questions. I leave no space for answers. My head hurts. While my head might hurt and while I might not have the answers to the better questions as yet, at least I’m not thinking of home any more. Therefore, philosophy might not just be a source for good questions but also a cure for homesickness, heartbreak and headaches.

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2 Responses to “Transitions”

  1. Mehak April 11, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    I’m transitioning too, but I’m feeling different things – a little excitement, a little fear of the unknown…

  2. nadinemurtaza April 14, 2010 at 6:15 am #

    some really beautiful images here, i love ideosyncratic descriptions:) this felt like strawberries in August, very special.

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