Novel: On My Way Home
Fictional writing
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
NRIs- Non Resident Indians- a rather coveted status in India because it means a comfortable life, a better bank balance, and an escape from the grind of life in India, and into an unknown but promising future. Uma and Neel are not only NRIs, they are Gulf NRIs. So close to home, and yet far enough from it, everyone envies them and their ‘perfect life’ which they think is gold-studded! Their life does seem perfect, at least from a distance, just like everyone else’s does. When they had arrived in Dubai with just two suitcases, a lot of dreams, and a sense of adventure, they had no idea that one day they would use the word ‘home’ interchangeably for both the countries- ‘back home’ when talking about India, and ‘I want to go home’ when in India! They had not anticipated that in spite of their bi-annual visits and comings and goings of relatives and friends from India, they will become guests, outsiders in their own home-country; and guests, outsiders, residents-on-a-renewable-every-three (now two)-years-visa in Dubai- in spite of spending an entire lifetime here. They just went with the flow, not minding the impermanence of their Dubai life but hoping nevertheless that one day the residency laws will also change to allow them to spend their entire life here. Life went on….for twenty years. And it would have gone on for another ten years if they did not have to witness a similar perfect life in Dubai being torn to pieces by fate, and laws, in front of their own eyes, so close to their home and heart that they had no choice but to wake up. The consequences of not doing anything about their long-term residential status seemed too drastic to ignore anymore. Hence, Uma begins her quest to find a permanent home for her family- a ‘permanent’ home from where they can’t be asked to go away, where their children and grandchildren can come without having to first apply for a visa, where they can grow old in familiar surroundings, and amidst their loved ones, and where they can be a part of their extended family’s life once again. On My Way Home is Uma’s journey, her re-discovery of ‘home’. Inspired by reality, it’s also the story of thousands of people who leave their homes in search of a better life, and irrespective of their success or failure, they lose touch with their original homes, and realities of their home-lands. They like the privilege of having of having two homes instead of just one, of being able to escape, of choices…but if and when they have to go back, it is an extremely difficult transition. For Uma, the initial thought of going back home is tempting, enticing, and almost surreal. Nostalgia, longing, day-dreams- is what she starts her journey with. But everything is not what it seems to be. Soon she begins to feel that they’ve become one of those NRIs whose mind is still stuck in the year they left India while the real India has moved on; that they’ve been away for too long to decipher the changed ways of life in India. She wonders if they really will be able to adjust, renew ties with their loved ones, and find real happiness and real home; because already she wants to escape once again to their impermanent but seemingly happier life in Dubai. Oscillating between conflicting feelings, Uma is surprised, sometimes shocked at how different life in reality is…everyone’s life, and how little she knows of it. She feels heartbroken, and overwhelmed. She constantly compares her two lives, not wanting to leave any of them permanently. It is not only the harsh realities of the everyday Indian life that stare her in the face, but there is also enough in her past to remind her what it is to feel alienated and displaced in one’s own home-country. Where is home really then? Everything seems to lead her back to Dubai, and her journey seems like a futile effort. But then no one can really predict the unexpected twists of life, not even if you come from the home-land of Astrology! Where will her journey culminate?
Happiness Meter