You are moving back? Are you going back home?
I am not. But that isn’t completely true.
I don’t know how to give an honest answer to these questions.
The place I am moving to is not one I am familiar with any more. It is not home either.
Every time I go ‘back’, it’s a little bit more unfamiliar, a little bit more indecipherable. I seem to fit in a little bit less less with every landing. A little bit more acclimatised with every take-off.
Yet, there’s no conflict in my mind or heart about moving to India after 17 years of living in Qatar. It seems the right thing to do, to expose my daughters, especially the teen, to another way of living. Pleasures and challenges that would be very different from what Qatar offered us.
Doesn’t that make India home? Then why doesn’t it seem so?
I am frequently asked if Qatar is home after 17 years.
Not in the least (this is one reason why). It’s a place I am comfortable in and find myself defending fiercely against ill-informed assumptions. It is not home either. And I don’t think Qatar wants to be the home for it hundreds of thousands of foreign residents. At best it wants to be a comfortable transit house. At worst…
So then, home?
It is where my children are. And where I have access to MY people. Sometimes it is a messaging app. Home is in that rip-roaring laugh of a friend. A hug so tight it squeezes out all the melancholic thoughts. It’s watching my 7-year-old caress my 76-year-old mum’s wrinkled neck. Home is often in three simple words over an international call: “Are you alright?” Home is in all those moments, in all those memories. It is not a physical space.
Just because I don’t feel at home in any one place, doesn’t mean I feel estranged.
I started writing this post at an airport terminal… The closest to feeling a sense of belonging, I’ve now realised, is in spaces such as this. Departure terminals. Be it at airports or rail stations or bus stops.
When you know you’ve left, but have not arrived yet. In that suspended physical space of myriad possibilities I feel truly at home.
PS: Check out my instagram account @vanishforever for some #LongKissGoodBye posts on Qatar. This is not my good bye post, that will come in due time.
1. Where are you moving to?
2. When are you moving?
End April, early May
3. Why are you moving now?
Because O is going into high school, and if not now, then when?
4. That means you are going away for good?
(This question always throws me off a bit) I will still be in and out of Qatar for a few months longer, as the man continues here for a bit and I still have ongoing projects/work here.
5. Will I miss Qatar?
As much as Qatar would miss me.