My Voice - 2018


Nameless Bonds

By Surabhi Kaushik

“Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts" - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Despite living in a country of amenities, convenience and comfort, I am hounded by a feeling. I constantly feel the lack of something important. Sometimes being away from your home country for long makes everything from there feels like “Home." My eyes are constantly searching for familiarity, even though I have made a few good friends now. A known face, brown skin, a lady in a saree, chai, green bangles, overhearing people speaking in my mother tongue, all of this or any of this draws me to it, like a magnet to iron fillings. Every little thing makes me nostalgic.

For the rest of the world, I am living abroad; living in a dream country but my heart tells me a different story. I yearn for affection beyond the fake smile and crisp handshakes. I crave to feel warmth in voices and hear words like “Khaana kha ke jaana" which translates to please join us for a meal before you leave. These Hindi words are not merely a sign of hospitality but also indicate acceptance, friendship, the beginning of building lasting bonds when you visit someone's house. These emotions are hard to describe but easy to experience for almost every newbie immigrant.

Having moved to the US more than three years ago, it's been hard staying away from loved ones and fighting internal battles to fit into this new world of mine. I love living in uptown Charlotte because everything is super convenient for me and my family. But the downside is there are no Indian neighbors. My neighbors are mostly young people working in one of the banks / offices uptown. They usually do not have anything to say to me except the polite good mornings and “have a good day." It is completely opposite to the close knit community that I was used to living in, back in India. I shared nothing in common with these people and I knew that I would never have the same comfort levels that I used to enjoy with my Indian neighbors. My mind was constantly aware that there are some unseen boundaries which I can never cross.

It is no surprise that my visa status added many layers to this quilt of emotions that I was trying to sew together. I'm on a dependent visa, which adds to the wrinkles in my quilt. The list of restrictions on the “don't do list" seemed endless. I can neither work nor study, a condition familiar to many of the spouses living here on “Dependent visa." I ironed out the wrinkles by jumping into all the volunteering opportunities that came my way. But despite all this, there was still a part of my quilt that I was unable to piece together. My quilt was missing the layer that held all the layers together; the comfort of being with people with whom you can just be yourself.

I was not entirely isolated, but something was missing. Something vital. There was a vacuum in my world. And I did not know how to fill this up. There was a young Indian couple living in my apartment complex. I became friends with them. But little did I know that I was in for something special.

The emptiness in my world slowly began to fade away when my Indian friend's parents visited them. With the seeds of love and affection that they sowed, a new relationship was born, a relationship that changed my world for the better in many ways than one. It was delightful to meet and talk to Uncle & Aunty. From the moment I met them, I felt like I was home, at least this was the closest I could get.

I felt a geniality in their voice, a thing that I had not felt in a long time. Simple gestures of inviting me for a cup of tea, sending me homemade delicacies, sharing recipes and enjoying short walks around the neighborhood helped us form a new bond. It felt like stringing bright, colorful beads along a string, creating a new pattern in life. Our bond grew stronger as their affectionate ways not just comforted my longing for meeting people from my home, but quickly filled up the vacuum, and rejuvenated me like I had just come back from a week-long spa! I was beyond being grateful.

Life has strange ways of showing us how to value what we have. At this point in time, I not only valued Uncle & Aunty but I treasured each moment that I spent with them. Regular good mornings had a light shining through it, making my day brighter.

Their welcoming smiles had the power to make all my worries vanish. Their concerns about how I was doing in this home away from home were so precious to me that they warmed my heart in a way that nothing else could.

They brought along with them not just a part of India and the feeling of being my family, but most importantly a huge chunk of positivity through their personalities. I could feel a mother's love in Aunty's specially cooked meals. I could feel a father's concern when Uncle asked me how my day was coming along, even though it was just a mundane question. A connection was instantly made, a connection that I was pining for. We both cherished the connection that had so effortlessly sprung to life.

I was pleasantly cocooned by their fondness for me. In no time, it felt like we all belonged together, maybe because that's what I was looking for. Belonging. Acceptance. Endearment. And I wanted all of this without trying too hard, in a country which I was struggling to call home.

Some people come and go, but when the right people walk into your life, they help you make memories that you hold close to your heart forever. I am thankful for this lovely bond that I forged with Uncle & Aunty. Their words and gestures strengthened me in a time when I most needed it. They gifted me a whole new level of emotional sustenance that has helped me build a fresh relationship with the place that I now call home.

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Writing is Surabhi's first love and you can find most of her published works at surabhiwritersmind.blogspot.com
Email: writersmind.surabhi@gmail.com