27/06/2016 6:25 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Notes On Unsettlement From A Washington Bedroom

Vector illustration showing both sides of a personality. File contains ai8, eps ai8, and a high res jpg.
sdart via Getty Images
Vector illustration showing both sides of a personality. File contains ai8, eps ai8, and a high res jpg.

Sunlight wedges through the edge of a closed curtain, drapes a slit of yellow on the corner of a white-linen bed, and tucks itself behind the adjoining table's crocheted cotton. It is a peaceful beauty, one I am unaccustomed to. Cushioning the fall of sound, cream-coloured carpet greets naked feet with a hush. It's a clean, pristine, dustless world. Welcome, to a bedroom in Washington.

This could be a room anywhere in America, the country I am visiting family in. To deny the comfort this beauty affords would be unfair. It's a place I called home for nearly half my life. If time was an indicator of belonging, that's more home than I've ever had. And yet it seems -- what's the word --protected, somehow. Extra hygienic. Extra pretty. Extra extra. It sounds like I am hating on cleanliness and order, but that's no cause for unsettlement.

My lens reeks of bias, expecting a film of dust, the more-than-occasional road rage, something that signals the presence of entropy. Instead the universe sends me hand sanitizer. There is a disconnect between the life I am living and the life I have lived; in negotiating both I can't let go of either. I miss the chaos of traffic sounds, I relish the silence these walls gift me. The anarchy of friends, the comfort of family. The music of Maheshwari's morning song as she fries poha, the sizzle of Mammi's fresh-off-the-griddle omelette. The satisfaction of a busy workday, the freedom to shape untouched time. There is beauty everywhere, even in dichotomies. But that's no cause for unsettlement.

The changes outside mirror the conflict within, a myopic vision glasses cannot unblur. This conflict always has and always will exist. I crave what I cannot have, rejecting what will soon be gone. I grow not to love, but to leave. I reach far, not to grab something, but to touch anything. A tiring exercise it is, to ask why. Why gratitude does not free the mind, but forces it to encounter privilege is a mystery. I am grateful, also guilty of this privilege I possess. It's a burden I cannot shed, an opportunity I do not use. There is beauty in dichotomies. Well, that's settled then.