Life in a suitcase

I have been living away from home ever since I can remember. Obviously, I was sent off to a boarding school. Unlike all other girls who used to cry and was not able to adjust in hostel, I loved every bit of it. Sometimes, I felt really low and all I needed was my mother’s lap or my brother’s hug.

I moved out after graduating from high school and being away for past 7- 8 years hasn’t been easy. Staying in a boarding school was much easier than choosing to settle down in a different country. Why I am writing about it today then? Recently, a friend of mine who moved away from his hometown for good called me up and asked me “Do you miss home?” “How do you manage it?” I was speechless for a minute and continued “You made a decision; you wanted this so you took the opportunity. All I can say is I have become a little responsible my perspectives have changed.”

Does that mean I don’t miss home? Oh, if you know me well, all one has do is mention Kathmandu or Nepal or WaiWai and of course momo and I second guess my choice to move away, and I do feel lonely at times. But all I have learnt in all these years is that your family stays with you. They may not be physically close to you, but they follow you wherever you go. And, friends can be family, too.

But then you have no choice but to become independent, and you finally learn what “family” really means. You use your vacation time to visit home instead of travel, and you learn to appreciate the little things.

I have stayed in two different countries in last 7 years and I absolutely love where I am right now. Moving on to why I wrote this in the first place is because living far away from family is hard. My elder brother moved out when I was still in high school. So we both have been on our own long enough that we both have adjusted to the fact that we won’t see my each other often, family and childhood friends around the holidays or even on a regular basis.

You receive news from home – birthdays you missed, people who left without you getting the chance to say goodbye one last time, celebrations you won’t be able to attend and Skype/Viber has been your best friend. On the other hand, in your new home life goes by at top speed.

Recently, I moved to Mumbai and I am obviously smitten about living in here. I know not everyone gets it, but living in – truly – the largest city in the India is so exciting. It’s nice to take a step outside of the hustle by renting an apartment, but it’s just as nice to know that the big city is always there waiting for you.

I look back and I know that squeezing my life into a suitcase and leaving my native Kathmandu was the best decision that I could have possibly made. Because when you move away, when you turn your life into a journey filled with uncertainty, you grow up in unexpected ways.

You face new challenges, you get to know parts of you that you didn’t know existed, and you are amazed at yourself and at the world. You learn, you broaden your horizons. You unlearn, and after coming down and embracing a few lessons, you start growing in humility. You evolve. You feel homesick… and you shape memories that will stay with you forever. I’m sure that most of you who have lived away from home can relate with what I am saying.

That’s why, when you get a few days off and fly back home, it strikes you how little everything has changed. Your life’s been changing at a non-stop pace but, at home, life’s the same as ever. Everyone keeps struggling with their daily chores, and it suddenly strikes you: life won’t stop for you.

Lots of people will tell you how brave you are – they too would move abroad if they weren’t so scared. And you, even though you’ve been scared too, from the moment you decide to jump, you’re no longer cowards nor courageous – whatever comes your way, you deal with it your way.

Living abroad is a trip that will profoundly change your life and who you are. It will shake up your roots, your certainties and your fears. Maybe you won’t realise it, or even believe it, before you do it. But after some time, one day you’ll see it crystal clear. You’ve evolved, you’ve got scars, and you’ve lived. You’ve changed.

From the moment you squeeze your life into a suitcase (or, if you’re lucky with your airline, two), whatever you thought ‘home’ was doesn’t exist anymore. Almost anything you can touch can be replaced – wherever you travel, you’ll end up stockpiling new clothes, new books, new mugs. But there will come a day when you’ll suddenly feel at home in your new city. Most of the people I know have moved out from their home for the first time and are really scared if they can make it on their own; I just want to say “You’ll be fine. Just trust yourself”

Over the years, I have realised that home is that random stuff in your new flat, those things you’ll get rid of in the blink of an eye when the time to leave comes. Home is all those memories, all those long-distance calls with your family and friends, a bunch of pictures. Home is where the heart is.

 

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