Poetry

No place I belong to

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There is no place I belong to
No roots I call my own
No strings pulling me forward or backward
Just onward
My feet they feel the cool earth
but never settle
No place I belong to
no roots I call my own
I ache for street corners
that are unfamiliar
And conversations in a mother tongue
That refuses to accept me as hers

I remember more than one scent of home
The wind triggers different memories of homelessness
I yearn for someplace I have no idea of
Not that I know even exists
except in my mind
No place I belong to
No roots to call my own

For ‘third culture’ kids like me, I’d like to think that I have more than one childhood, reflective of the different places I grew up in or the different cultures I associate with as being part of the growing up process. In essence, the multiple identities I hold are not only reflective of the salient features of nationality, religion, gender or ethnicity, but rather of who I was in the memories of the places that help shaped my being.

I was born in Sri Lanka to a minority Malay Muslim family, brought up in Nepal in a multi-religious, lingual, ethnic environment, moved from place to place, primarily within South Asia for a few years at a time. I speak a few languages, but I don’t speak my mother tongue. Not that I haven’t tried, just that my tongue doesn’t seem to accept it as its own, or that mother tongues don’t come easy to those who leave its fold too early.

There is thus no place I belong to. No one place on Earth feels like a place I want to ‘settle’ in, no home has ever felt permanent. Everything has always been in transition, for the ‘time being’, in flux and flow. I am constantly missing someplace, some taste, some smell, someone. In the middle of the day, I sometimes miss a new city I have never even been to. As I grow older, the struggle to be rooted and set up base versus the yearning to leave, to be someplace else, rages within me constantly. But this struggle is who I am, its one I am meant to carry. It has always taken me to the place I need to be at that time of my life.

The one space that I know I can claim is the space that writing offers me, and one that photography sometimes graciously endows. Be it in writing poetry, a little random gibberish in yet another notebook, or that extraordinary sunset that I just to happen to witness and capture, I sometimes find myself in a moment of absolute belonging. For a split second, I am planted, rooted, exactly where I need to be.

I am therefore grateful for the expansion of this space and in sharing it with those who may occasionally wander in to it.

Bismilliah and we begin.

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