I walk through the old neighbourhood. Not much has changed. Not that every story requires change to be interesting. I walk through crowded market streets, shops new and old, people constantly jamming up the traffic, students walking about, ice cream cones in their hands and hope in their hearts, talking about dreams or just laughing. What a sound! The cars stop abruptly, blocking everyone else on the street, scooters are parked here and there, and carts take up half the road. Amidst the cacophony of haggling and arguments, I reach my home. The dilapidated road welcomes me.
They say the road will be paved again soon. They say it every year. This is the first time they’ve started working on it, to the surprise of everyone. Perhaps, the city, the neighbourhood, are changing after all. This digging of holes all over town has brought a lot of dust and diversion. People hope, as people always do, that it is all for the best. Yet, you can see the frustration, the scorn when they come across a street with a barricade or a hole in it. The other day, I took the long way through the alley into the field the other children used to play cricket on, the one I was not allowed to go to except to walk our dog. The people decided it was a parking one day, and very neatly, they started lining their cars up. No one can argue with tacit, unanimous decisions. I cut my way through the array of cars. I missed my dog walking ahead of me on the wild grass. There is no grass any more. There’s just dust. I look at all this every day, of course. My parents live here. There is little reason to visit otherwise.
But when I walk through those markets, I sometimes see why my father liked this—this absolute mess, this boiling pot of chaos. On some days, I understand why he never left this town. Apart from the need to see it all in life, which is a fool’s errand anyway, one can build a life anywhere they want to, and why not a place you know like the back of your hand?
I am now deeply in love with this town, I think as I knock on the door, and in perfect routine, we talk about our days and have tea and dinner together. There is nothing else I want from my life.
It is here—this is happiness.