There’s a difference between being homesick and being home, sick.
It is when you’re sick that you really crave to be home. To be in the familiarity of your own dingy bed, the bookshelf that collects more dust every day no matter how much you clean it, the messy cupboard and the desk with blotches of paint and glue that you no longer bother to scrape off. I used to hate these walls in the beginning although it was my idea to paint them teal.
I hated the stork-billed kingfisher that settled on the branch of the mango tree nearest to my window and bellowed at six every morning. I hated the cobwebs that reappeared the day right after dusting. The insanely cold and dry gust that blows in during winters. The block of paint and cement that fell off when I tried to fix a nail on the wall- now covered by plaster- bothered my inner Monica so much. All of this until I’m miles away, sick and tired, sneezing until my nose bleeds.
When you’re home with a fever or when you squirm with a hot water bag on your tummy, there’s a warmth even the coldest shade of teal can provide. There is a comfort that oozes in as sunlight during golden hour, as the quiet murk that lulls you to sleep at night, as the squirrel that trots over to your window ledge to sneak a peek at what new hobby the resident has discovered this week and the barn owl whose hoots and screeches excite you and send shivers down your spine at the same time.
Even the cupboard door that creaks and lets out ungodly noises and the white patch of plaster on the wall become consolation. Those afternoons you shifted your chair to the window, kicked your feet up the bed, and read intently, or those cloudy evenings when you laid down, head propped on a stack of pillows at the foot of the bed, watching the tiny patch of the sky visible through treetops and listening to the crack of thunder seem like another lifetime now.
Now you’ve found another home– four walls in another city shared with your roommate who brings you ginger and cardamom tea while you cough the life out of yourself- only for her to fall sick even before you’re fully recovered. A place where you try in vain to speak the people’s language there.
Where you now crash after a long and tiring day of classes. Where you now sit with overwhelming feelings, patiently waiting for them to pass. Where no kingfishers screech, no owls hoot, only the ruckus from the road under construction racks your nerves. Where you now lay among crumpled sheets, in the dark, wide awake, thinking… about how you made this place, this city a refuge- no matter how temporary- a refuge you’d rather come back to when the going gets hard.
And how many such new homes, new refuges you’ll make, for you to stop a moment, breathe and lay down your heavy head and heart to heal.