It was a cool and pleasant morning. I sat in my mother’s kitchen with a cup of hot chai, one she had forced upon me as she has always done. I never needed any help from caffeine growing up either and we used to argue about this incessantly. She could never abide by my no-tea-no-coffee habit. “How on earth will you find the resolve you need to galvanize into action for your day?” It was one of so many things my mother didn’t understand about her middle child. I put up a feeble protest, but my heart wasn’t in it. This time, more than any other, I was just so gosh darn happy to be home.
Home. Never thought there would be a day two distinct places would define that word for me. Our lovely apartment in San Francisco is home to me, but so is this charming old flat in Bombay, with its cool mosaic tiled floor and ventilated windows. My whole life was here before the age of twenty-five. I tried to pack as much of it into three suitcases when I moved halfway across the world. I thought I was also taking along a lifetime of memories, but then I went and left the keys to so many of them back here. Each time I’m back in this city that I grew up in, I find myself rediscovering it with all the excitement of that child I left here somewhere – reliving experiences that unlock tons of memories.
I’ve been more fortunate than most. Not only did I grow up in just the one place, it also happens to be the same place my dad grew up. So some of my childhood experiences overlap his. There was this jack-fruit tree in our front yard. Large and lofty, I spent many of my growing years playing hide-and-seek around it, just as he had. Carving my initials with an arrow under where my dad had carved his when he was eight was one of my proudest moments. We both loved that tree. Our common regret was that the tree was barren and had no fruit.
…until it magically did.