Unlock Diaries: How Homecoming Feels After Months

There's a thing about homecoming. No matter how detached you pretend to be for your months of absence, the bare thought of returning to your own space, the comfort of your bed, the familiar smell of your bookshelf, the satisfaction of gobbling up 'maa k haath ka khaana', strike an immediate chord that hums its way right through the deepest corners of your heart.

It's been over a week now that I traveled from Delhi - my 'karmabhoomi' - to my hometown Kolkata. Our last meeting was towards the end of 2019.

It's a brand new experience this time. With the global pandemic throwing our lives into an unending crisis, I developed a strong urge to being with my family. The fact that this visit is perhaps for an indefinite period with no return ticket, makes matters more interesting, for I have never stayed home for more than a fortnight after moving out of the city in 2016.

Kolkata has never been this alien to me. Like others, I am still getting accustomed to the city's new normal. The excitement of getting back to my very own city is kind of subdued. Thanks to the pandemic.

Nevertheless, there are certain aspects that keep reminding me I am home. The sheer aroma of a very familiar home-cooked gravy, the window view of construction workers on duty at a distance, the Azan from a nearby mosque - make me nostalgic. In a flash, my childhood time travels to the present, all in front of my eyes and I feel home.

As I try to befriend 'work from home' with no hope of getting back to the office anytime soon, I keep going blank. I miss those streets leading to my Barakhamba office. Those vendors on the pavement and the metro ride back home. My weekend getaways and more.

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The thick white pillars at Connaught Place standstill with innumerable memories. The narrow lanes of Old Delhi are empty. The busy-bee shops at Chandni Chowk has no or very few customers. The gates of Jama Masjid might have been made wide open, but it craves for footfalls. Khan Market is no longer occupied. No kawali, kebabs, and biriyani - Nizamuddin has lost its charm. Majnu ka Tilla has stopped attracting food lovers. The Delhi University campus lies vacant.

Delhi has always been kind to me barring my post-grad days. Back then, I was living in a three-sharing non-AC PG with little or no money to spend on entertainment. Although I feel glad to be with my family after long, the country's capital keeps sending its timely reminders. A Bong girl has developed some 'dilliwala' symptoms, it seems.

Today, as I sit in a room dedicated to my home-quarantine days, life makes more sense. From two meals a day, I have upgraded to as many as five with a fruit platter for elevenses and an evening snack at 7. With my family always at my service, I am spending a fairly peaceful time. I feel content.

Armed with a mask, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant spray, I plan to step out soon to keep a check on my city - my very old Calcutta. The city with a soul has never grown old. It perhaps runs through the veins of every Calcuttan.

To me, Calcutta will keep being as pure and sacred as it used to be. It's the place where I found my first love. I am familiar with the nooks and corners of the streets and lanes.

Over the period of the last three to four months, we have seen and been through a lot.
Life has changed for all of us. For some, it's still in a better state while for others, it has come down to a battle for survival.