I know some people who have always lived in the same city and even in the same area of the city. They seem quite contented to be rooted to one place. They have no longing for strange or distant places, no craving for the unknown or desire for the unseen, the inexperienced.
It is generally fear of the unknown that leads them to choose the familiar over the new, even when offered the choice. But it is impossible to get them to admit to this, and their general response is why risk the inconvenience and unhappiness of a strange city when they are comfortable in familiar surroundings. The operative word here is “risk”. It is a fear that what is strange will lead to unhappiness and that the loss of the familiar is inconsistent with greater joy in unfamiliar surroundings.
Then there are some people who like the idea of moving to different cities. I am one of those whom distant climes always beckon temptingly. In my youth I rejected a suitable proposal for the only reason that marriage would have taken me only a few streets away and not to the far off places that I was dreaming of. After marriage when R. was given transfer orders to a north Indian city and asked me if he should appeal to be retained in Madras, my first reaction was “Let’s go”. It was very exciting to pack up and go to a place which had only a weekly train from Madras that took two nights through lawless regions and several states to get us there – a city, a town really, that had extreme weather in summer and winter. Phones didn’t work, electricity was unpredictable, water was very scarce, and we had to live on turai in summer, no other vegetables being available. But the city had a quaint charm and we grew to love it.
After three years there, we moved again, to live in one city for the next thirty years, almost. My wanderlust was slaked by moving house eight times during this period and by traveling to many towns and cities all over the country and sometimes out of it.
Now it is time to move again. Is it destiny or is it the desire to face the challenge of beginning a new life? To go where we have never gone before?
Leaving the past behind is not easy as I saw when my mother had to leave the house she had lived in for fifty years. She at least had to move less than a mile away. But when we go, there will be no looking back. Only in our memories which can ambush us with poignancy and make us hanker for a past that can never be ours again.