It seems, I never really left you on the 1st of February 2010. My heart was still in the smell of the swirling sea- the waves that splash across Marine Drive-when it rains. My heart was still in the blue cheese bagels by the sea, the sev puri man by the building gate, the school by the beach. Yes, I can remember everything clearly still- the sand in our shoes after march past practice on the beach. The smell of mid-morning milk in the school basement. The dhansak-rice from the school canteen, that I will never find again. The warm chocolate croissants at 4pm, the sweaty bus ride after. I can remember the rain as it fell- the day of my first job interview. I can remember the December I tried to say good bye to all things Bombay meant to me- Prithvi Cafe and hot Sulemani tea, a small garden in Oshiwara, a greenhouse in Goregaon East, the room with big windows overlooking a rare patch of green.
And, still when I checked into Gurgaon- an intimidating guest house on a barren street- I knew it wasn’t Goodbye. There was always an air-ticket- ten days of swimming, and coffee shops, and a bustling Lokhandwala street. And, there was always a one way ticket home. For although, you know, deep down, life’s changing- you hope it remains the same.
But now, here I am- at the brink of something beautiful, and fearful and overwhelming- and I am sobbing. For, I no longer know when I will return. When I will wake up to the smell of Bombay again- the sound of a rumbling train- the wails of a busy street. I no longer know when I will walk leisurely the Belmont compound, pick my cycle from the Garage, walk down to the local tailor, spend a day at the beauty parlour, rent a DVD from the corner store. I no longer know when I will belong in Bombay again.
Nothing’s changed. And, yet everything has. My heart it belongs in Bombay still- but life-it’s snatching me away…
I no longer know…but Bombay, this still isn’t Goodbye.