01 January 1970

'Hiraeth' Or The Longing For A Past Self


'Hiraeth' Or The Longing For A Past Self

The author talks about a feeling of longing, nostalgia and homesickness. An irremediable ache for the bygone, or, an yearning for a place or people, a feeling of something amiss that is unfathomable.

Memories of another time
Memories of another time Getty Images


When you’re 13, You’re a concoction of confusion and joy! You worry for grades but a butterfly makes your heart flutter like the petals in the wind. You insanely worry over the changes in your body but the little drop of the first rain on your nose thrills you, and makes your heart skip a beat! You look at your older siblings and you want to be like them - independent and insouciant ! You’re muddle-headed and you want to crush the light years of gap between being an adolescent and an adult.
But sometimes, you miss your 5-year-old self - the days of splashing in puddles, going down the slides, making faces, catching the dragonflies, spotting the Milky Way in the sky, being happy for no reason and a lot more! Things have taken a paradigm shift. Now no one can see the crashing of a constellation of stars on your chest.
You often reach out, desperately, for something that’s constant, hopeful, abiding. You feel nobody understands you and you endure the ache, secretly.
Sometimes you’re 18, and you’re lost amongst the nebulas of worry! Which subjects to choose, whether you should follow your heart or give-in to what your parents want you to pursue. This college, that college! What if you do not get through a good college ? You look outside your window and you envy the birds flying high into the unclaimed horizon. You are lost! You want a lot from life but you do not know what do you exactly want! Sometimes you hold your breath to comprehend existence! You often think of all those
you couldn't reciprocate your love to-
you think about people you learned to let go. You acknowledge the parts and pieces of yourself that you lost along with them. You untether yourself from the septic sludge and take a vow to make your parents proud of you, you count your blessings, you take deep breaths of the emancipated air and reaffirm your belief in God and in yourself! And you tighten your seat belt!
Sometimes you are 23, you think of the time you were 16 and how studies were a beautiful part of life for now you are working your ass off in front of the screen. Deadlines to meet, presentations to prepare. Long day at work and sleepless nights with books you have to study, for you want that specialisation to get that edge ! You feel you loathe what most are amused by! Night looms in, you find your corner in the room called life and you think about your first love , the naivety, the deluge of tears and the void when he/she left you . You take an oath never to fall in love again. But Rumi reminds you that love is what holds the world together. It’s what keeps us sane!
You’re stuck in a deluge of the constant notion of wanting to fit in and not be forgotten and you learn too late that emotional dependency can be fatal. You often miss being you! You often look for yourself within yourself. But it seems like a magic maze where everything is distorted! You’ve turned out to be a misanthrope, yet what you miss out the most is talking to someone at the end of the day.
Sometimes you’re 26, happy and lonely, both at the same time. Happy - for you have a stable career, lonely - for all your friends are either hitched or engaged. Now weekends are you with yourself since others are busy in their personal lives. You wake up late and turn on the playlist from the 90’s and reminisce your childhood, schooldays, first love, first break up, the aunty next door who loved you immensely and succumbed to a disease, your Granny who was your Achilles heel and you thought life without her was not possible, now she is breathing in another realm, your friend who burnt herself last year for she thought her life was redundant. You think of the tailor who stitched your frocks with printed floral fabrics your granny bought until his hands moved no more, you remember the glass pickle jars kept on the veranda on a summer afternoon and how you stole pickles along with your siblings, you remember these and much more...it’s funny how enormously things have changed!
Sometimes you’re 37, you drive a posh car to drop your children to the school, you feel claustrophobic in AC rooms but you have no choice, you’re always juggling between job, chores and children. The rat race is never-ending and so is your resilience . Always rushing from somewhere to somewhere as if your limbs are programmed to be on the move at all times. But no matter how fast you run , the world outruns you, spinning out of control, making you dizzy!
You have become a culture that glorifies busy. You crave to create Stillness in your life and reclaiming your time. You’re reminded of Darcy Luoma- “ are you living a thoughtfully fit life”?
There are times you want to untether from everything and go someplace , away from the maddening crowd, away from the permutations and combinations , away from the everyday need to be something! Away from the burden of love and loss, glee and gloom, euphoric bubbles and rights and wrongs! The craze for money and fame does not seduce you, anymore. Your heart seems to care less for things you once held as relevant. You have everything and nothing! You fight it out every single day. Almost every day you grieve moments. You grieve what was and what could be. You grieve your old self and what you could have said, not said, done, felt, explored, achieved. You rebuke yourself and them and fate and God. And then,
perhaps then , you miss being 10!
But you go on rolling through life’s roulette dreaming about the old metre- gauge trains slicing through the prairies while quietly awaiting the lilies to bloom in your tiny garden! Suddenly the air turns a little purer!
**HIRAETH – A feeling of longing, nostalgia and homesickness. An irremediable ache for the bygone, or, an yearning for a place or people, a feeling of something amiss that is unfathomable.
Mahua Sen is a multiple award-winning
(The Poet, author and Editor is based out of Hyderabad. She works for Bull’s Eye Outsourcing, as the Regional Director, South)