Mumbai, Meri Jaan
Exhausted by a 25 hours car journey within the last 40 hours has gotten me all riled up; inspired even to talk about my city. This may be the adrenaline talking or the sheer deliriousness that I’m facing, but Mumbai is the most unforgiving city I’ve ever visited in my very short life. And yet, it challenges you every twist, every turn.
I’m inclined to believe that Mumbai, contrary to where I live has a soul, a moral righteousness and rationale that is governed by emotions and adventures. I can tell you all the big stuff, how the adventures enriched me as a person and appalled me when they didn’t seem to come easy. But how do I tell you the smaller, intimate moments and memories of family, if not with words.
As I sit in the known corners of my childhood, the twinge of sadness hits close to home; the stability here is uncanny, everything in its place for the last 20 years; the trophies of my cousins’ impeccable studiousness, or the wind-chimes that ring and remind me of a memory from age 6, the conversations that turned from how do we convince our parents to let us have ice cream to let’s have a drink, and from the sheer nostalgia of it all, I fall back together.
I’ve always considered Mumbai as my past, a book I no longer read, but one that lingers as a collectible, not a cult. This time around, I picked up the book again and wrote a few pages myself. I explored its spirit, I rendezvoused with its soul and found myself falling in love more and more. You see beyond the crazy traffic, the painstaking moments of hardship and perhaps a lower quality of life, what Mumbai has is a distinct sense of belonging amidst outcasts, a ray of sunshine in the dark and the strength to stand up for itself against all odds.
Now that I’m back in Dubai, the emptiness prevails, reminding me how much more of a home Mumbai is. With food that is reminiscent of all that was good growing up and a treasure trove of family that gives and gives and gives; a home amidst all the hustle and bustle, that should realistically give me anxiety beyond measure, is the only thing that calms me down. Ironic, isn’t it? A place that should keep me on my toes with its overwhelming population and sometimes extreme beliefs and faiths, still has a place in its heart to accommodate my needs, my ideologies and above all, me.
I guess what they say may be true; we always seek something we can’t have and the everlasting pinch of a misplaced heart and its desires, I did find some peace in Mumbai. I found reasons to live and learn, hardships I seeked out just to grow and hurt that only made me stronger. And for once, even in the shortest span of time, it was filled with moments of no regrets.