Yesterday was Australia Day as well as India’s Republic Day and I happened to hear Australian national songs on TV, one of them “I still call Australia home…” is very sentimental in its tune and nostalgic in its lyrics.
“I’ve been to cities that never close down
From New York to Rio and old London town
But no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home”
Thus, any native Australians who are born and brought up in Australia but move to another part of the world, they ‘still call Australia home’.
Which raises a question in my mind as I respond to the The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Free Association.”
Which place should a non-resident Indian like me I call home?
‘India is my native country’, this statement I have used too often without thinking but today google-searched its meaning and found that ‘native’ means natural, inborn, intrinsic and deep-down. Basically, everything that is real. So should I say, India is my home?
But I live in Australia so this too is ‘home’, albeit the practical real one – where I have my ‘house’ as well. But that way I have many houses in India too where I hardly get to reside and that’s why I am a non-resident Indian.
It hurts me as I recollect that when growing up in India, I used to be sarcastic towards my fellow Indians who opted to go abroad and settle in a foreign land. How can they even think of leaving India and settling elsewhere? Didn’t make sense to me. Hence, a patriot like me should have never left India as I am not in favor of divided loyalties. India was my motherland and we can’t have two mothers, I used to debate with my foreign-crazy female friends who desperately wanted to settle in Canada or U.S.
But a couple of years later when we as a family impulsively ended up taking that very action which I always criticized in others, then there was no way out but to go with the flow. Soon the magnanimous-hearted Australia gave us shelter, jobs, house, opportunities, and in all the years to follow gave us an abundant life. Whether I wanted to migrate or not is a different thing, whether I wanted to live in Australia for this long or not is a different issue. But I actually did and that makes Australia my home.
And yet, home is where the heart is. This heart keeps going back to India often, now please don’t ask me how many times a day. All this may sound like cheating and bigotry as I live in wonderful Australia. But India is in my blood, my inner soul and I can’t change this fact, can I? Should I?? That is a dilemma of being a migrant. We, the people with divided loyalties.
All in all, if I have two homes now, that again means India too is my home of which I have soft memories of childhood, parents and siblings, remembrance of various houses I lived in, just as there are memories of settling down in Australia, the initial struggle and memories of various Australian homes and overall Australian cities, the Australian land.
I’m talking about land of these countries and land is soil. That will make me move on to the next ‘soil’ part of the daily prompt. Once again I find myself talking about India, the Indian soil and its land mass, which is the actual geographical land of India that occupies a vast portion of our planet earth. It used to occupy much more than that in its long history, but lands get transferred when a new country is formed out of the big old country…quite like a new home, a new family is formed out of the big joint family home when people in the same family move out of the family house. All this proves that man-made land boundaries, that enclose our countries, are changeable and do not mean as much as we think they do.
Coming back to Indian land, the subcontinent struggled or suffered so much in history that reading about it or actually visiting the self-speaking historical places gives shudders, though not as much as reading about holocaust or Auschwitz does, whose 70th Anniversary falls today, that is on the 27th of January as I write this article. Basically, the inclusive and gentle Indian culture embraced every foreigner, irrespective of their religion or race, only to be duped by these invaders in its own land.
People who have gone through struggle and bad times, esp. at the hands of others, can relate to the pain India went through. But time and again, India not only survived the worst but moved on with head held high. I feel, it is due to the strength and resilience developed by such struggles, that it is now forever marching towards bringing back its lost glory, greater heights and vast achievements.
Besides the land size, the second aspect of this Indian land is that it is truly beautiful, its gigantic mountain ranges are one of the highest on earth, its mighty rivers always swelled with lush waters. One single country has been blessed so abundantly by God almighty that Indians living in India need to see their own country entirely before they venture out towards foreign lands.
And of course this beautiful Indian land is very multicultural with its wide variety of cuisines, languages, festivals and religions. Yesterday only, after seeing India’s 66th Republic Day parade, I had salty water in my eyes (as usual). But with years of experience I know that this sombre ‘migrant’ mood stays for a day and then there is the beautiful reality of Australia which is very much my ‘home’ too.
I may or may not be able to go back to India forever, but God bless India – my ancestral land, my birth place, my first homeland. Possibly, at some stage it may become real homeland again if I go and reside there forever, but till then my feet will remain on two lands. And I thank God that “lands are not boats”. Now this is a quote I created just now.
But nothing wrong with the Australian land too. Like my India, my Australia too has a wonderful glorious land mass like no other. I need to write more about beautiful Australia in a separate article. My both countries are vast and big, and awesome.
Now, moving on to the third part of the prompt, the ‘rain’. I simply love rain in all shapes, forms and moods. If you have heard of Indian Monsoons or have experienced them in real, you would know what they are. Of course, monsoons are not the same all over India but I can only relate to my experience during almost three decades of growing up in India. Sheer beauty…but a bit of mess too. After hot and humid summer weather, the much-awaited monsoons come as a relief…and it’s like “Ahhhhh!! Here they are. At laaast!!!”. We embrace them full-heartedly.
For one and all, monsoons are a cause of merry-making and dancing in the rain. For festive Indians, who make a full-fledged festival out of every occasion big or small, rainy season too has many colorful festivals, each with its own dance, own food and fancy clothes.
My adopted mother (land) Sydney too has rains like no other but they are different from Indian rains. Indian monsoons were/are a balm to my senses. They caress the heart as we inhale the fragrance of wet soil and deliberately or accidentally soak in water that cools the perspiring body. But often this slow and dull incessant rainfall during monsoon season can act like a numbing rhythm that slows everything down. This is when continual rains become boring and cumbersome, a hindrance rather than an inspiration, not even for poets and musicians.
Compare this to Australian rains, whose near regular feature is that they come with sudden dark raging noisy clouds and lightning, scary and awe-inspiring wild thunderstorms. Such rains have a waking effect, as if they create an urgency and tell us to move on and live life to its fullest. That’s the very Australian spirit. Once they have vented out their energy full-force, the thundering clouds become quieter and the downpour slowly becomes more mellowed. At this stage, Indian monsoons and Aussie rains become the same. No difference.
Yes, no difference really. No difference in various nations or their lands, our various homes and various rains. The whole world is our home, the whole of mother earth is our shelter. All lands are good, and what about rain? Rain is rain after all…same the whole world over. Not my rain or your rain. Mother nature is beautiful wherever we live.
Yesterday, my emotions were wayward and confused as it was a special day for India as well as Australia. But now I have had a healthy rant by writing it all. If Sigmund Freud is reading my article from above, he will be happy to see my inner feelings pour out and his psycho-analytic therapy of “Free Association.” working right here at Word Press, and that too in the hands of some ‘Happiness Engineer’ acting as a doctor/psychologist for a day by throwing three simple words at us unsuspecting prompt-addicts.
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