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September 2017, vol 13 no 3

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Vijay Joshi

The Theseus paradox

As an immigrant, I always struggled between two identities – the newly acquired one and the one left behind. Uprooted and unable to plant new roots, I tried to connect to the new world while not quite disconnecting from the old world. Derailed and sidetracked, I was in perpetual transit. Constantly trying to go somewhere, I failed to get anywhere. The more I strive to be stationary, the more I become mobile.

remnants of
distant shores

After many years, I visited my hometown in India. I was looking forward to reviving and untangling the fond memories tucked away and buried in the layers of time. I found instead – fancy boutiques, cyber cafés, fast-food joints, western fashions, skyscrapers, nightclubs, and sprawling malls – a faceless town without a soul. It had no resemblance to the town of my youth. The old town had been entirely wiped out by the tsunami of change. The native culture was completely swallowed by the foreign culture. The only thing old about the town was its name. In the early hours of the morning, as I boarded the return flight, it dawned on me that all these years, I had been harboring an illusion. Upon my return, I realized that although a collective root-searching by millions of immigrants will always continue, for me, the sojourn was finally over.

Today, as I watch a Bollywood movie and hear the soft mysterious beats of tabla being played in the background, I know that my home will always be in my adopted country, in a subliminal sense, old memories – although feeble and fading – will be mine to cherish. Yes, that’s it, my old country, within me – mine always.

refusing to fall a wilted rose