I got back from India about three weeks ago. I was there for twelve days. I traveled to five cities. I met so many people. People from as young as eight months to people in their eighties. These are people with whom my paths have crossed at some point in my life. People I have not seen in twenty two years, twenty years, eight years, six years. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, most importantly I felt loved, every moment I was there. These are my people, they have all played a part in where I am today.
It is common knowledge that when an Indian born living outside India, goes back to where they reside, depression sets in for a few weeks. I had heard of this, but this is the first time I experienced it. I went into depression, the real stuff, where I don’t have an appetite, I am sad, but not really sure why, I don’t have the drive to do anything. All I want to do is lay somewhere and look at something mindlessly. I tried to wake up from this slumber, but I just couldn’t shake it off. During this time Grey’s Anatomy came to my rescue. 18 seasons on Netflix, that’s what you call a treat. I was glued. Three days of winter storm, at the end of it, by lower back started hurting, because I was on the couch for hours, escaping my depression.
This morning when I woke up, I decided that I will not watch another episode, until I empty out the suitcase I brought back from India. It has been lying in my living room, open, with undergarments, unused sanitary pads exposed. I simply did not bother. I walked by that suitcase everyday, many times a day, yet it was like this thing, that if I went close to, would burst some bubble and I would gasp for air. Today, as I was talking to my mental health clock (she keeps me in check, almost everyday), I picked up some hangars from my closet and started pulling out the dresses one by one. Each one had a memory. I remembered when I wore them, with whom I was, the happiness I felt. It was draining. I found the photographs, that I had taken out of an album I found in my father’s house. The ones that didn’t have any meaning, my friend held on to those, the rest I found, today. I got that old plastic bag with the heap of one, two rupee notes, that I found in my father’s steel almirah, of forty something years. That almirah is like a person who lived with us, since when I remember. I finally ransacked his secret compartment while looking for property documents. He never let us open that compartment, because his valuables were stored there, lenses, cameras, his salary. I found so many old lens filters and gave them away to his friend. A very long time ago, when he came back from one of his official trips, he’d brought me a purple glitter pencil, where you remove the used lead and push it back at the top of the pencil, so a new lead emerges out at the writing tip. He never gave it to me. I found that pencil and took it. I found old coins, 1 paise, 2 paise, 3 paise, collector’s stuff…
As I took them out one by one from the suitcase, I found the kolhapuri sandals, that my friend and I bought on Commercial street, bargaining, a skill neither she nor I like or know anything about. We went into those shops, looking for oxidized jewelry, I found those as well. One by one, they all came out. Lying around the suitcase in hangars, piles, organized by where they will go, in my closet. At the bottom was a red Tommy Hilfiger pouch I received as a gift eighteen years ago. When my kiddo was one, when life was simple, when everything was happy. I opened the pouch and found those old coins, the oxidized jewelry, the fancy stuff I took from here, but never wore, and among them scattered were the little red seeds I had packed in a tissue.
My besties and I went to a resort for a day. A day where it was just three of us in some tiny corner of the world, talking about everything and anything. As we walked on the grounds of that resort, we saw a little red seed on the ground. I got excited. My friend looked up and said it was a tree of the little red seeds. She and I picked the seeds, one by one, like little children. She gave me a handful which I tuck away in my pocket.
It wasn’t the clothes that I was pulling out of that suitcase, it was the memories. The friend and her family who opened her house and her arms to me, my father’s friends from even before I was born, who made me feel that he lives on in our thoughts, the eight month infant, who looked at me with her big round eyes, like she knew me from another life, the aunt, who couldn’t say a word, but in the end, took my hand and kissed it, my little buddy whom I taught ‘see you later alligator, in a while crocodile’, my friend who tears up every time she seems me or lets me go an epitome of what affection is, the family, the love, the happiness, the warmth. I was pulling out each one of this from the suitcase.
As I always say, depression is real, depression is hard. There is no way around it, but through it. As my therapist says, one foot in front of the other, baby steps. The light will seep in through the crevices. It always has, it always will.