I think of this question and one word comes to mind: home. A visual: the yellow brick road, red heels, a gust of wind and then… nothing but the searing North Sea, rain and currents all the way to Norway. But then I regain my resolve and think further afar.
For one living abroad there is nothing so tempting about the idea of going home. Oh little windswept farm, where art thou? I imagine myself back there, somehow back in my teenage bedroom with the walls unchanged, the Oscar Wilde quote on the ceiling, the candles on the dresser. I imagine looking out over those flood-plain fields and remembering all the places I wanted to go: India, Africa, Nepal, the rain forests of Brazil, the remote Galapagos islands. All those years spent dreaming of the faraway lands, the stories I would write.
And now I am here, dreaming of being home dreaming of strange continents, fervent cultures, and strange, jarring sounds. Imagining the dream of all five senses in overload. If I had to pick one of those destinations for my “one place” it would probably be India. My heart always cries out for Africa, as my mother was born there and my Grandma was a citizen of Kenya until very recently. I have never visited “true” Africa, but I long to, although part of me fears what I might find if I do. What I might feel – the guilt, the agony, the crippling sense of inadequacy when I think of how little I’ve done with my privileged birth.
So India it is. India – a strange, mystical land. My Grandmother was born in Kenya but raised in the Seychelles, where she describes the population as half African, half Indian. With her dark golden skin tones, petite frame, and long, thick hair my Grandmother is most often taken for Indian, rather than Kenyan, and I remember her pride when I dressed in a sari for a school project. I think, from that moment, when I closed my eyes I always imagined myself as a little bit Indian – running over the lush hills, exploring the vibrant markets, speaking rapidly in the diverse, ever-changing dialects.
If I were able to go anywhere on this earth I think India would be my first calling. Somehow I think it would give me a sense of peace, to transport me back to a point in time before my birth when the world was a more diverse place, a more interesting and exciting place. I imagine the adventures I might have, the things I might learn about myself.
I have every expectation that I will visit India in my life – hopefully soon – and if I don’t I know that the regret will be stamped on my heart forever.