The list is endless, but I will try to list a few every now and then.
Old doesn’t seem gold anymore. Your old clothes that mommy had so nicely preserved for you, neatly washed and starched, fit you no more. There are dozens of expensive clothes you wore years ago and could not take along with you to the US due to weight restrictions that just refuse to contain you with all your substance. Your ex-wardrobe (as I call it) that you took so much pride in becomes a living mockery for you. Those colorful bandhni print clothes you wore, those skimpy tops you hid in between decent Indian clothes and wore them only after dad left for office, those hip hugging skirts that accentuated your curves have a lot more to hug these days. You try to hold on to the clothes (in vain) resolving that someday you’ll make yourself fit into them. But soon you realize that’s not happening and you have only eaten more and put on more weight out of frustration. Imagine how depressing it was donating an entire wardrobe of carefully chosen and loved clothes to others just because you don’t fit into them anymore.
The other self-mocking situation arises when you see your old pictures around you. Your mother, out of love or whatever she felt while she missed you, has hung dozens of your pics on the walls, by the bed frames, and in every conceivable corner of the house. The family albums are full of your pictures. You sift through them and realize you no longer look the same you once used to. Yes those were the days when you had less money and almost zilch sense of style or makeup, but you were thin and young and vivacious and had more voluminous hair crowning your head. You looked happy and zealous, full of energy and vitality. The hairline has receded since, the waistline has exceeded, and other lines have appeared on your face. You realize with shock that you have grown older and out of shape. I don’t say this happens to everyone, but this has been my story so far. I look at all the old pics with fondness and nostalgia, even the ones less than 5 years old when I was still in college, and realize how much I have changed for the worse. Of course the realization hits you harder when you bump into old pals while walking on the streets. They would surely make it a point to remind you, though not in as many words, how old and fat and unkempt and haggard you look since they last saw you.
Ever since I’ve been back to Kolkata, I’ve started to realize all the more how I have changed more than things have changed around me. I never thought dealing with the notion of getting older would be so hard when you visit home after so many years.
To be continued …