The past 3 weeks in India has affected me in many ways.
1. Very little access to Internet! – I have a dongle which depending on its temperament of that day will choose to work for 30mins or not at all. But being disconnected has allowed me to read more (close to 8 books in 1 week!) and spend more time with the people around me. When I am speaking to them, I am in the moment, not being distracted by notifications or chats with others not in front of me.
2. I spend more time with my grandmother and it makes me sad when I realise I might not have enough time with her. Her skin is more fragile, her bones ache, her veins pop in her legs and she can’t travel long distances. She sometimes forget that she asked the same question over and over again, and each time I answer it, I break a little because I am afraid one day she might ask me “who are you?” Times like this I wish I had grown up here in India with the family instead of Singapore. How many of her hugs, smiles, and kisses have I given up? I try to memorise the way her eyes crinkle when she smiles, her smell after she showers, and the way she will spend time in front of the mirror getting ready before she goes out. Because I know how memories fade over time. I no longer can recall the exact sound of my brother, or his smell, or the way his weight would rest in my arms since I lost him 10 years ago. I do my best to tell her how much I love her every second I get, and sometimes I launch sneak kiss attacks on her where I would just hug her from the back and kiss her cheeks a million times until she shoves me off. But she always comes back to kiss me too and it is enough.
3. Celebrated Onam in India for the first time after 21 years since I left for Singapore. I cried on the last day as I saw all my family members gathered together. Onam is not just about the food. It is really about family. When you see about 5 generations in one room together, you realise how much you are part of history. How intertwined we are with one another. Somehow we are all together in this point in time, and generations and generations of ancestors link us together so that we exist in this dimension. Onam is when family gets together, and we share stories of the past, and hopes for the future. When relationships are strengthened and new ones forged with the latest additions to the family. It is a week filled with laughter and tears. Tears because family stands together when one of us is down, and can no longer stand on his own feet because he needed it to be amputated. Tears because you realise how lucky you are to have a family that is so close knit, 5 generations can hang out together in the same place and you want to be there.
4. The moment you realise that Love transcends everything.