WHEREVER THE WIND TAKES ME! | Trishila Chatterjee
“Where are you off to this time?” The voice asked over the phone. She replied with a lingering smile on her face, “Wherever the wind takes me!”
This was not a very uncommon question in Trina’s life. In fact this was one of the most consistent questions her colleagues and friends have had for her for years together now, all her life actually. She is now talking to a friend over the phone. As she was saying those words, her mind drifted away slowly.
Trina was a simple silly happy go lucky girl who has seen a lot in life. By a lot I mean, a lot of cultures mainly among other things. Yeah, she has been to many places. Surprisingly, she does not yet own a passport yet she has been in a continuous cycle of migration all her life. This is her story.
Moving around from state to state, she was not just a traveler. She lived each part of her life in a different city which in turn gave her this diverse and versatile personality. Sometimes for her father’s job, sometimes for studies and sometimes for her own job, Trina has experienced all different phases in new places amongst new friends.
Though she considers herself to hail from a small town in Odisha, Trina was originally born in a small town in West Bengal, India. But her childhood memories hardly capture any part of West Bengal. Due to her Dad’s job, most of her childhood, was spent in Odisha amongst people whose mother tongue was not same as hers. Has she faced problem? Of course! But this is India and we are all Indians, right? Yes, still migrants like Trina face the challenge from the so called “natives”. It’s a common thing. So before she could learn and mature in her mother tongue, she had to revel in her friends’ language to be socially accepted. She has great friends, no doubt, friends who were too innocent and ignorant to see the difference of culture that they had with her. And gradually she had become one among them. So ya, there were not much scars in her childhood. She mostly remembers the happy moments only. The time she spent at school with her friends and teachers is a precious memory in her mind. The time spent at home with her parents was even more golden to her. Trina has a great family. Her parents always supported her and helped her. They somehow understood the difficulty of raising a Bong kid outside of Bengal. But they never left any stone unturned to make her feel connected to her roots. Even after staying out of Bengal for almost all her life, Trina’s playlist has all genres of Bengali songs and Rabindrasangeet. She understands the depth of her culture and her connection to it. Without doubt like any other Bong kid, her favorite time of the year in Durga Puja, and favorite evening snack is phuchka or singhara and begun bhaja. Trina never got schooled on Bengali but her favorite series has Feluda and Byomkesh in it. Oh, and she writes well in Bengali as well. She was homeschooled by her Mom about Bengali language and literature.
Trina is also in love with Odishi form of classical dance, since she was trained in it. She was one of the most active participants of annual Functions in her school. She remembers the Sambalpuri dance performance the most amongst all others, mostly because she enjoyed it the most and also because she was one of the lead dancers in that program. Now, when she thinks of those days, she always finds smile lighting up at the corner of the lips. It was fun, whose school days are not! All those simple moments, crushes on teachers, crushes fellow classmates, those growing years, that innocence, those are the good old days.
After school, for her graduation, for a brief time she was in, what you call, her own city, Kolkata. But surprise, surprise! In her college everybody treated her like migrant, a foreigner, somebody who did not belong with them. So, after 15years when Trina finally gets a chance to return to her homeland, it no longer accepts her as one of its own. She feels isolated and alienated, just as she used to feel in the first year of her school in Odisha. The only difference was 15years prior all were kids and being alienated lasted till before the recess break for about half a month may be, and now in college you have teens with raging hormones and all heightened senses. But soon she made friends, a few from the very beginning. And life moved on. Trina sometimes stumbled, sometimes waltzed and sometimes tangoed her way through college. When she was out of college, she was not naïve at least. She knew all possible slangs in Bengali but was too shy to even think of them. Again promises to be in touch were made and she moved on with a selected set of idiots who were her closest friends. Though Trina was treated like an outsider on the first few days of college, she had left quite a mark. She came to know about it in her later visits to college as Alumni, of course. On the last day of her college one of her friends asked her, “So, what’s your next plan- doing masters? Which college” to which Trina had replied innocently, “Let’s see, wherever the wind takes me!”
And literally the wind blew her way south and she ended up in Bangalore – the place which affected her life the most. Trina completed her masters from Bangalore and somehow, among all odds and to the disgust of some people landed a job in a field she had no idea about and which had minimum to do with her masters in a hugely reputed company. During her masters, Trina faced the real adverse of regional differences to an extent where she had lost hope in her way of life. She was beginning to wonder whether staying in one’s own native place is the healthiest thing to do. But again, Bangalore, being Bangalore, had opened its arms to her when she joined her job and proved her wrong. And she was lucky enough have made great friends who were fellow sufferers at times or not, but they stood by her always. Her stay in Bangalore taught her to rise above all these trivial differences and to love a person for what he/she actually is – a person, a live human being, not a language or a label or a political/cultural agenda. She understood that beneath all the difference every person she meets is in some way or other just like her, living their lives with a balance of happiness and problems. Everyone has his/her own struggles and the language bars do not define friendships or love.
After spending about half a decade in Bangalore, it was time for to move on again. With tons of memories, loads of crazy friends (who would do anything for her) and with semi heavy and semi excited heart, Trina landed up in the City of Dreams, Mumbai, one fine afternoon, where she was greeted by one of her school friends (all the way from Odisha! Kidding he was also working there that time). After Bangalore, Mumbai is a cake walk for Trina. There was hardly any language barrier and most people are migrants in this city of charms. But yeah, some questions hardly leave you ever, here also, she was asked, “Why Mumbai? It is so far from your hometown!” But this time she did not mind. She was used to this initial hindrance. She just smiled and said, “I am sure you will make me feel at home here”. The interrogator could only smile and agree to her on this.
It has been two years in Mumbai now; Trina’s stars might be getting restless again. This lifestyle that she has led by fate has turned into a believer and explorer, has opened her mind and left no space for fear or speculation. She discovered a bit more of herself every time and somehow enriched herself every time. Trina found from her experiences that it’s a very small world actually. Trina never knew migration could be such a good thing also. When she sees the birds flying away to their homes during dusk every day, she wonders how similar her life has been with those ducks that migrate every season and may never nest in the same place twice.
Her life has been very interesting. Given the fact that she is multilingual, Trina’s friend list is as varied as a rainbow and she can reach out to people easily and vice versa. Every place she stayed at has taught her something special. She bears the nature and character of each town and city in her soul. At a very young age, she has seen almost everything- happiness, sadness, pain, love, hatred, betrayal, achievements, joy, success, failures, struggle, courage, and extreme adrenaline rush and many highs and lows. She sometimes wonders, if she would not have this life of hopping around from place to place, would her life be so exciting? She knew in reality people like her never truly belong to any one place forever, they just hold on to their roots in their heart and soul. They are like the sea weeds, roots embedded in the sea floor, but sway along always with the passing currents and waves. She truly believes in the quote, “The world’s my oyster”.
Suddenly a phone voice broke into her chain of thoughts “Hello? You there?” “Huh? Yeah! I am here. What were you saying?” “I was asking what is next in your book. Moving again right? Which city do you want to explore next?” Trina remembered something and smiled that crooked smile again and said, “Like I always say, wherever the wind takes me!” J J