On looking over your shoulders
*Warning: A lot of sappy and lengthy self-reflections ahead *
There is an old superstition in Bangladesh(and other places maybe), faithfully propagated by my mother of course, that says that if people are stepping outside the threshold of the house, you are to never call out to them from inside the house. If they look over their shoulders to answer the call, something bad will happen- to them .
Like all superstitions, it's never been proven and is pretty silly when you really think about it- eg. What happens if the person is about to get run over or fall into the sewer (or manholes, as they are called in Bangladesh and with good reason too since the covers are usually stolen) just as he steps outside the door?!!
Yes its silly.
And yes I follow it.
I've been conditioned to over the years!
These days I wonder about the deeper meaning of this superstition.
The idea, it seems, is that- you are to let people, who want to leave, go.
No matter what they are leaving behind-
Okay, so its about not holding people back in their journey.
But what about the person doing the leaving? Do they have to fulfill some part of this superstition?
What if no one is calling, but you feel like someone is calling out to you and you DO look over your shoulder to check.
Is it bad then too?
Readers be assured that I'm not pulling 'A Beautiful Mind' here.
But if you are someone who always got dragged around from place to place, country to country all your life (To my count, I've been to 9 different schools in three different countries with three different language systems, before I finally went to University), you cannot help but take the thresholds you are crossing seriously. Even when the choice isn't yours, you still have to wonder if the place outside the threshold of, what until that point had been home, is going to be good or if its the right direction at all. Most importantly- having crossed it, can you ever go back? And if someone wants you to go back, should you?
(gawd I'm dropping commas like autumn leaves there)
Anyway, Bangladesh has always been a weird threshold for me.
I was born there but I didn't grow up there, not entirely.
I've been going back and forth over that threshold a number of times though and not only as a passing visitor.
At one time in my life, I had considered it my home, even though I wasn't living in Bangladesh. And then, when I did live there as if it was a permanent home, I couldn't wait to get out.
Maybe that explains the term- 'Motherland'.
You love them, but can't wait to get out of their reach. Once out, you feel like you'll never be more at peace unless you are back under their loving touch even if for an instant.
The cycle repeats.
You can get mad at them for not understanding you, for being old fashioned and decide to never return; but at the slightest thought of danger/illness befalling them you'll fall apart.
'Motherland' is not the same as 'Homeland', though.
At least not to me.
Kuwait was like the 'car-ride-home'. There was no loyalty there.
Toronto, on the other hand, to me is 'Home' and always will be.
I stopped being a child here and I'm still growing here. I understand it, it understands me. We work together and I feel a sense of ownership towards it. I'll forever remember the first snowflake I tasted or my first view of the city from the Island.
But nothing in the element of Toronto binds me irrationally to itself.
I don't and won't pine for its breeze, its tree shades, its sounds or grow an ache in the heart at the memory of running barefoot on its earth or even remember an entire lazy afternoon of listening to plays on radio in an instant of sunlight peeking through the leaves.
I'll only do that with Bangladesh and it won't even matter if I'm in the north pole.
Which brings me to my prolonged hesitancy in going to Bangladesh for a visit.
Its been 9 years, 2 months and 24 days since I've been there.
Surely I could have afforded it a long time ago - I went all the way to NZ for gawd's sake.
I could have and still can take the time to do so.
I'm not governed by my parents plans now either so I decide when/if I go.
Still I hesitate.
I tell everyone, including myself that its because I'm concerned that I'll get pressured into marrying some dweeb by my extended family.
But its more than that.
I'm afraid that I'll fall in love with my extended family again because I know first hand how truly wonderful they are .
I'm also afraid of explaining how little I've done to improve anything there and at the same time hating all the changes that is sure to have happened.
Mostly I'm afraid of realizing how rose-colored my memory of my 'motherland' truly is.
Its simply a threshold that's far bigger than it looks and is only growing in height.
Hopefull I'll have the courage to cross it one day.
Can't be scarier than black water rafting.