Everyone says it can happen quite frequently in the first couple of months that you live away from home. It’s almost a rite of passage when you move away. I guess, even more so when you leave the country. The better part of the past two years of my life have been spent in the UK. It’s been a marvelous experience but I haven’t really missed home. Apart from an initial bout of homesickness when I first moved here in 2013, I haven’t had this incomprehensible surge of irrationality that eviscerates all logical thought. Sure, I’ve missed home and my family and friends. But I haven’t wanted to just drop everything and run home. And now, when I’ve had this persistent feeling for two days…I don’t really know how to deal with it.
Nothing’s changed. And yet, I feel completely different.
I know that a huge part of this yearning is because I’m missing out on my annual feast of literature. Every January, as a new year present and a pre-birthday celebration, my city transforms from a historical and tourist destination to a destination for art, culture, language and most crucially…literature. For five days, people with a deep-seated love for language come together under one massively overpopulated roof and celebrate everything it can possibly convey. Within the stuffily overcrowded halls, we huddle together and converse on every aspect of languages. Literature, fiction, journalism, poetry, forklore and social commentary – we have it all. It’s like we take a hiatus from our preoccupation with existence and focus on living.
My yearning for the festival isn’t blinding me to the social drama that plays out simultaneously. Nor am I forgetting the bitching, author tantrums, political drama and the constant one-upping of the program coordinators. Even with the incessant commercialization of the festival and its transformation into a page 3 carnival, the Jaipur Literature Festival is essentially a celebration of knowledge and culture. It really did feed my soul and provide me sustenance. Not being able to attend it isn’t as excruciating as not being able to spare a few hours to catch up on what’s been discussed. Perhaps I’d be less wistful if I could take a moment and just listen to the speakers. Perhaps I could even be happy with the content and ignore the joy of experiencing the event.
I guess it doesn’t say anything appreciable about me when I feel more yearning towards a literature festival than the possibility of spending time with my family. But that is a demon for another day. Today, I have to contend with this ache.
And I don’t know how to do that.