As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that more and more often, I am very, very homesick.
Maybe it’s the guilt of being in such close proximity to my culture and never learning about it, for complaining so much as a child rather than enjoying my time whenever I'd visit. Maybe I just miss my family, having people obligated to at least try to get along with me. Maybe I feel left out as my cousin’s children grow older without knowing my face. Maybe I feel stupid for the way my tongue seems to break whenever I speak my own language, the weakness in the way I insert English words into mumbled sentences, the times I wish I would have opened my mouth more to learn how to correct my mistakes.
It is probably all of those things, and maybe more, but I am almost starting to miss the sight of crows and the sound of honking car horns and the traffic that makes walking seem like the most comfortable method of transportation. These rather ugly little things–should I be afraid to admit it?–remind me of home, of the streets of the city of my birth, of the place where I have never really lived.
Though, of course, reminders also lie in the pleasant things: in the smell of my clothes, packed in suitcases and embroidered and sequined, and in the books on my parents’ shelves, covered in my language’s beautiful script. I remember the colors and the sounds and the liveliness of the city, the beautifully decorated rickshaws and the even more beautiful people. I am reminded by my own skin and my own tongue of the place I love most, the place I am longing for constantly.
I miss the greenery and the buildings, my family and the people I’ve never met but who look like me, the roads so full of people and so unlike the quieter streets of the city where I actually live, the sight of saris and salwar kameez and lungis everywhere I turn to see. I miss the street food that has never failed to upset my body (it’s delicious enough to forgive), the bustling markets where everyone bargains in slowly rising voices (even at stores marked “fixed price”), the smell and taste of spices and sweets and never a bland thing. I miss the fruits, the sweetest, best tasting mangoes in the world and the family gathering to eat jackfruit, the country’s national fruit. I miss lychee and guavas and starfruit, I miss kalojam and pomegranates, I miss eating everything with salt and red chili powder.
I might not miss the heat and humidity, the constant load shedding, the open sewers, the littered streets. But home is where the heart is, and sometimes I feel like I left mine in Dhaka.