Scents fill the air as I enter the market. My five senses are overpowered all at once, fine silk gently brushing my fingers, the salty, fishy air wafting gently to me, accompanied by the marketmen and (of course) women’s cries and seagull shrieks over some morsel. I am offered a bright orange by a friendly market holder. My fingers pry away the skin and I grin to the joyous juicy taste it gives my taste buds. There is nothing in the world that can surpass this feeling I have now, strolling through the gravelled market paths, the gravel crunching with every step I take. This feeling of being home, being safe, being somewhere where there is so much communication happening between humans all at once. Men and women spent a great deal of their afternoons here, bartering or haggling loudly for food, clothes and spices. When I was a child, I was convinced that the simple act of aquiring everyday goods was an art which was maintained by the large number of people that practiced it themselves. That was before I moved.
At the age of twenty, I left the country I had spent my childhood to travel to one of the greatest countries of business; America. There, my views on selling and buying goods changed drastically when I moved into an apartment in New Orleans to work in the hotel business. Never in my young age could I have encompassed the workload and totality of the statistics that came with the job. In the first few days I came home to my tiny skyscraper apartment, too exhausted to do anything but sleep. However, many people I worked with in the business, including my boss, showed understanding and support to my difficult transition between the two largely differing cultures. I made many new friends in that skyscraper and slowly adjusted to my new way of life. I was still young and could be flexible, but some older Indians, who were too inegrated in Indian society, resented my choice of career.
My father, for instance, first grew into fits of anger when he’d heard that I, his only son, wanted to study for hotel business and leave behind India for this alleged “emotionless facade of people who were only interested in statistics” (his words, not mine). To be honest, I regretted my decision at first, fearing what he said to be true. Then I learned about the fine art in the job, the delicate balance in the statistics and studying the various patterns over the years. I must have had a gift for it, for I graduated with near perfect grades and soon got a high-ranking job offer at New Orleans which I accepted. My father, though, already distraught about what would happen to the farm we owned if I left, reluctantly agreed to let me go, after my mother was finally able to convince him.
Life went on for me, and life went on for them. Fortunately, I maintained a connection with by parents by mail (we didn’t have any internet on the farm). This went on for a few years, until my father left us. The doctors said it was a heart attack caused from stress and work. I flew over immediately, and payed for a grand funeral which befitted the memory of my father. A lot of doubts started nagging at me while in India and I started wondering if my change of career from the old family business had been a good choice. My mother helped fuel those doubts, seeing that only she was left to take care of the farm and urging me to marry and have children in India, to continue the family trade. For a while I gave in, finding an amazing girl named Mira Raj and for a while I was fully content. Then, disaster struck.
I received an e-mail from my boss (yes, I convinced my mother to install a Wifi adapter in the main farmhouse), writing that he would fire me if I did not return to New Orleans (as I’d already stretched my stay in India). He also wrote that I would need to answer in the next three days. The dilemma I found myself was disasterous. I had to choose between my dream job and my old life in India. To this day, I regret the choice I took on that dreamy Spring day. I chose to return to America. When my fiancée and mother heard of this choice, I was first met with tears and pleas to stay. When they saw how resolute I was to my decision, however, both we spent our days filled with arguments, me against my mother and fiancée, my fiancée and mother against me. Our marriage was cancelled when Mira refused to marry in America, saying words like my father would have used. It pains me now to say that I broke up with her before leaving, after her saying of those words.
When I returned to my life in America, things readjusted for me again, although I never received a letter or e-mail from India again. Another few years passed and I was in my mid-forties when my mother passed away. She died of similar reasons that my father had died of, and I flew over once more to arrange a funeral and finally sell the family farm. I was met with a problem with selling the family farm, though, when I found that Mira and her new husband and children had been granted permission to carry on the family tradition by my mother. She shouted at me first for coming back, saying I’d betrayed my own mother but when I told her that I was here to grieve for her, she fell into a stubborn silence and refused to talk to me. It was ironic to see, though, how I felt I had been betrayed as well when my mother gave away the farm to someone else without asking me beforehand.
I returned to America after I payed my respects at the funeral strangely changed. I felt empty inside. I was scared at that new sensation and I resolved to put more time into work, and less time into socialising with friends. As my position in the hotel business rose, my number of friends diminished. I soon became the boss of my own multi-million worth hotel business, without any friends to speak of. Fearing loneliness, however, I downloaded several social media programs and soon gained hundreds of friends due to my reputation. Satisfied, I carried on working harder than ever. When I finally went into pension at the age of sixty or so and gave up my social media accounts and business to another promising graduate, I realized the error I had made. It was already too late by then, and the truth hit me like an express train. I had given up family and society for work and success, leaving me empty again. But this was a different kind of emptiness. I started seeing psychologists for my depression and none could solve my problem, perhaps because they were not qualified enough? I don’t know. Anyway, I finally found a good psychologist and he gave me the obvious advice, I thank him for it to this day. He told me that my depression could be caused by homesickness and helped me find a flight to India (he was also very kind throughout our sessions).
Once I arrived, seeing the sights I had seen as a little boy, my depression started growing less and less by each passing day. When I was content again, even joyous, I decided to transfer the majority of my pension money to my benefactor, that helpful psychologist (named Doctor Gerald, by the way) and only the minimum of it I kept for myself. That would be the last business related transaction I made in my life. I spent another few happy years in India, rediscovering the country, until I met a young boy called Ravi Raj and asked him who his mother was. He answered; Mira Raj. My heart missed a beat when he said that she died just a few years ago (hadn’t I heard of it?). I mentally kicked myself for forgetting to check if my past fiancée was still in India but didn’t stoop down to depression anymore. I was learning. Still learning in my old age. One never stops learning, it seems.
Now that I am old and wise, I can use more wisdom to dissect and analyse the past. I have come to the conclusion that the unwillingness between both of the cultures to mingle may have led the course of events in the past. I am not saying that I have not also contributed to the loss. On the contrary, I think that I have been the focus of the loss and that my bad decisions have led my destiny. But in the end, it is all about how you were taught when you were young that really changes the way you see the world.