Prisoner is the Society! (Tale of Two Relocations – Part 3)
“Strange are the ways of this weird country!
The individual is free – but prisoner is the society!”
(Vasant Bapat, Poet, on America)
Ensconced in this secure, affluent and civilized American society, unknowingly, there grew a certain unsettling feeling within me. A feeling immortalized by an oft quoted Marathi poem which goes – “though pleasing, it makes me wistful and sad.” This was at two levels. It was a kind of mid-life crisis. One begins to ask oneself, “What do I really want to do? What do I want to achieve?” On another level, I was seized by a longing to go back to my roots and spend the rest of my life there. I felt I would be happier in the Indian environment, in the Indian social and cultural milieu. I also had a desire to somehow associate with social work in India. I felt I must connect with the grass root movements in India in some shape or form.
At the same time, I experienced a disquieting monotony in our life in America. Often, I felt we were hopping from one island to the other. Home, work place, friends’ homes, weekend trips, cultural activities, children’s soccer match – that was the pattern day in day out. These islands seemed to float in the vast, strange space that was America. I often remembered the words of Marathi poet Vasant Bapat. He wrote these in 1982.
Travel where you may, visit any hotel or motel ,
Same form, same colors, same taste, same smell;
Strange are the ways of this weird country,
The individual is free – but prisoner is the society!
I was not alone – my wife too shared this feeling. And like a reflex action, the process of our journey back to India got set in motion one day. A year and a half went by from the moment of decision to the time we actually relocated to Pune. I had lived Mumbai before going to America. But we decided to settle in Pune. We visited a few schools first and secured admission in one a few months ahead of our final move. I decided to look for a job after landing in India. However, I did find one before leaving the USA.
“Loss of Innocence” (Part 4)
“Born Again Citizen!” (Part 5). To be published.