Whenever emptiness fills you, for no reason that you can put a finger upon, it results in suffocation. At least that’s my case. Being suffocated with emptiness is almost a paradox, but for the one who suffers from this malady, it’s often like being clinically depressed.
I have been in Kerala for the past week or so. Since my phone has nearly given up the ghost, there are few callers to disturb me. Over all, so far it has been a welcome break. I have spent quality time with my mother, catching up on good old Malayalam television channels, and almost subconsciously inhaling the festive spirit of Onam. I do not celebrate Onam any more since I lost my father on Onam four years ago.
The weather in Kerala has been unusually cool this year, considering it is the last week of August. Usually the monsoon clears up by Onam, and the weather is warmer. This year, however, the rain gods have played truant, and the delayed showers have kept mercury levels low for most of the week.
My home in Kochi where our family moved in 1990 is special not just for nostalgic reasons, but also because you can feel completely disconnected with rest of the world when you are inside the house despite it being in the center of the bustling city.
My mother has over the past few years, developed into a very competent gardener. She keeps a dainty little garden that includes a small fish pool.
While the entire universe seems to be working towards relaxing me, I have been sensing some silent, yet abnormal internal turbulence that’s constantly building a vacuüm.
Whenever I am unhappy, disturbed, or sense any negative emotion, I try an exercise that my mother taught me many decades back. I try figuring out the reason for the negativity and focus on it, and that almost always gets me back on track.
However the emptiness I have experienced over the past ten days or so is inexplicable. Any attempt to seek the reason has been futile, and it has started bothering me. I am not feeling sad. In fact, I was catching upon several simple joys associated with my home.
But I suddenly felt an urge to take a time machine, go back into the good old eighties and early nineties, when Kochi was much smaller, and when in many ways it was a city I owned. Those were the days when you knew every street of the city. I had cycled through practically all the navigable roads. I had explored the darkest alleys of the city’s underbelly without feeling a bit afraid.
Today I am scared to drive a car through the city traffic. I did some amount of walking mostly alone or sometimes with my old classmate Sreekanth Das. And every time I started missing some of those old land marks, I felt something dying inside me.
I hate being nostalgic. But I realized that somewhere the reason for my irritable need for some soul-searching was the city which I have lost over time.
I miss the good old Kochi, the smiles of a generation that has died over time, and the laughter of the generation that I grew up with. I miss the grounds, the parks, the libraries, and the cricket clubs.
I badly miss people who once meant a lot to me, but have moved away with time. People whom I have lost for no fault of theirs.
Above all, I miss being me.