Back after a long hiatus. There is always something very special about one's hometown is'nt it? A place which holds very special memories for you, a place where you leave behind some very special people. A place where more the things change, the more they remain the same.
My earliest memories are of standing on the foot board of my father's trusted green Chetak scooter and driving along D.B.Road to go to my grandmother's house. A rambling old compound which had two big houses, a well an unused shed which held many 'treasures' for us and lots of space all around. Hall was referred to as 'koodam' and the dining place was referred to as 'chinna koodam'.
The house itself was filled with people. People from all generations and from all different branches of the family. People with many different quirks and foibles with my grandmother indulging them all and holding the fort. A house which was home to any distant relative who happened to be passing through. A house that saw a lot of marriages, births and deaths. A house that held us all together even though we lived separately.
Later, as I grew older and appa got transferred all over the country, Coimbatore was still home. The epicenter. The place we rushed back to during every vacation. A town which grew into a big city but retained all its familiarity for my father. And the old house was still overflowing with people. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grand aunts and grand uncles, random relatives.
Appa was passionately in love with Cbe and remained that way right till the end. When appa took the first opportunity to come back to Cbe, both parents were relieved and happy. I was a pre-teen and started building my own bonds with the city. My parents settled and put down roots. Built a house. Made friends within the community. And by this time, the family exodus had begun and people had started moving out one by one till, at last, appa remained the last link to Cbe for the entire family.
I went back to Coimbatore after a long time this week. I expected to feel pain and a sense of emptiness. A feeling of not belonging anymore. A feeling of having moved on. I did feel pain. From the moment I stepped off the train, there were overwhelmingly painful memories of appa all around. But there was also the feeling of warmth. Of having stepped into a comfortable, cozy spot after a long, tiring journey. Of finally having come home.
Coimbatore, I guess, will always be home. A place where people refer to my 2 month old infant daughter respectfully as 'vaanga' because it is the norm of the land. A place where the water is so sweet, people fill bottles of it to take home when they leave. A place where my son gets to carry and play with goats and puppies on the road. Where if I just come out in the morning, people will make it a point to stop by and say a kind word or two. A place filled with memories. My old school. My old college. The place where I met my husband. A beautiful place still left with good, innocent folk.
The heart yearns to leave behind this big city madness and go back into the warm, familiar lap of my city. My city. But will I ever dare to make the decision to opt out of the rat race? Even if I dont, and I grow old in this place, in my heart, I guess Coimbatore will always remain home.