by Swati Moheet Agrawal

When I am alone I ache to be with people, and when I am with people I want to be alone. Gazing at the sea makes me miss people; when I’m surrounded by people I miss the sea. Yesterday my cousins Tina and Tavia were over; somehow, I yearned to retire to my room, not because Tina is too modest and Tavia is a rattle because I ain’t sure who I am. I tried to rekindle my relationship with Fiza and Fatima, my childhood friends, but it brought on a great deal of weariness, and I was seized by a violent desire to return home. I hounded my husband for a trip to Brussels. Two days later I found myself pining for home. How much better is my cozy room strewn with scraps of paper, dog-eared books, the air tinged with salt from the sea, and my vintage coffee mug. It is so much better to sit by myself, nibbling on the tip of my pencil, burrowing in my manuscript. I write my way out – it’s a doorway back into life.

No, I haven’t erected barriers around myself. More often than not, people disappoint me –  they say one thing when they mean another, and conversations invariably revolve around the fabulous lives they are living. As a matter of fact, people living their best lives won’t feel the need to tell you that they are! I’d rather know a handful of people intimately than a thousand superficially.

At any rate, no matter where I am, a part of me is always in exile. And yet, I wish to sit herded together with all the people I cherish under towering elm trees, only to be possessed by an impulse to get home before I’m consumed with an irresistible desire to push out in the heterogeneous crowd again.

About the Author:

Swati Moheet Agrawal’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit, Five Minute Lit, The Alipore Post and Muse India among other places. On Twitter @ MoheetSwati.

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