Bangladesh Slideshow

23 May, 2007

The Heart Yearns

My husband first left home when he was just 17. He has lived in Dhaka for the past ten years - from his Uni days onwards. He has studied here, taken a job here, even gotten married here. For all intents and purposes then, this town is his home, you’d say. Wrong! Home is where the heart is, and Dhaka only houses his body of flesh and blood. This overcrowded impersonal city is a prison from which his soul yearns to be free. And whenever he gets a chance to visit his northern district home-town, his entire being radiates a joy unparalleled. I get a little envious of the devotion this place generates in him. And many-a-time have fought with him as to how ‘he loves his home-town more than he loves me.’

But I of all people should understand his yearning most – as I too have yearned in the past to leave the glitzy West behind and walk the dusty streets of Dhaka. Homesickness cannot be rationally compared or measured to worldly possessions, it is an illogical emotion that grips the heart and constricts your throat. So many nights, in the Central London flat I shared with two friends, or in the Riverside Drive apartment that had a great view of the Hudson River and Washington bridge, have I sat gripping the phone in my hands, listening to the voice of my parents, throat closed from emotion and tears streaming down my face. I had absolutely nothing to cry about – in material terms, that is. In London I was getting a great education on a full scholarship, in New York I had a good job. It was absolutely SILLY to yearn to be back in Dhaka – amidst the frequent load-sheddings, the pot-holed roads, the stand-still traffic, the relentless heat. Silly? It was CRAZY!

Call it silly. Call it crazy. The fact remains that no matter how far we move away, or how much better we live, the affinity with one’s hometown remains the strongest bond ever, transcending all other ties. Which is why thousands of expatriates spend millions of dollars in making their way back to their roots.

Dhaka is the place I grew up in, went to school, made the best ever friends, fell in love and had my heart broken, stood first in class (and amazed everyone – myself included), got a job, got married… cocooned all the while in the love and security provided by doting parents. Can anything, anyone, ever rival the feelings I have for Dhaka? And now that I am married and ‘settled’ - with a husband, dog and apartment, my kinship with the town is stronger than ever. Sure I miss some of the comforts of living in the West. Sure we Dhakaites have more than our fair share of problems. But I wouldn’t be as happy living anywhere else.

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