This blog gets more introspective (ridiculously self indulgent?) with every new post,and more personal than I had ever planned on letting it be.
And still,the old cliches,how much the personal is really shaped by the not-so-personal:the social,the economic,the political-at the risk of sounding like a throwback to class 11’s social science courses.
When I think of those “externals” shaping me, I can’t help resorting to the cliche of this city-the remnants of a fractured, not-so-old culture still bubbling in the cauldron.
I am always dreaming of leaving this city. I love this city.But to belong to this city the way I do-to be girl,to be then,woman,to be hopelessly middle-class here means to be largely excluded from this city and all the chaotic glory it has to offer. That is the paradox of my love affair with my hometown-I love it,I wish to inhabit it for good,more of it than just this cramped apartment and a sprawling,yet not big enough campus.And the violence,the misogyny,the patriarchal codes of conduct keeping me from doing so are just as much part of this city as anything else.
I want to take metros and buses and trams to explore every corner of this city-dig my nose into every shadow of glory past, peep into every glimmer of hope future. Capture all the ugly,all the beauty,all the shame,all the majesty.And maybe someday I can,I will-the only condition then being to detach myself from what fiercely anchors me to the city now,know this city as a hometown.The tourist knows the city extensively perhaps, the resident is claustrophobic with intensive knowledge- in knowing too much of the bits to which she is confined.I want both-not the claustrophobia,of course,but to know as much as I can and yet the unfiltered realities,all those details you miss by not really belonging,by only ever looking for a way out even in your time here.Am I in love with the city for what it is or for the possibilities of what was,what could have been,what might be?All the was-es and the could have-s,the eternal romanticism they say ruined Bengalis for good.
To love and to need to leave,if only to come back,to only ever really belong by not belonging.Among all the paradoxes this city is teaming with,this particular one seems to have seeped right into my soul.