Friday, December 1, 2006

I wanna go home, Mommy.

Every now and then, between the house-hunting, furniture-shopping, relative-visiting, Naya will get into a funk and say such a thing. I assure her that we're on our way, referring to the guest house we have been putting up in for the last week.
But the true answer is a little more complex and I think my baby knows that. She knows something is up and whereas Nitin and I have words and lists and a million to-dos, her pain is purer and confusing. Two days ago, she told me she wanted to go to story hour. On the days Nitin takes her to the park, she talks about it the whole day long and gleefully laughs and screams as she recounts the slide the ladder the swings jula jula. At least that much is familiar across borders.
We've been thinking about homes in the tangible sense quite a bit over the last few days -- and Nitin already wrote about the place we plan to call home for the indefinite future. But how to explain away the puzzlement of innocent Indians who ask: "Why did you come back?"
Generally, gently, we try to explain that this journey has not been a coming "back" for us, that our birthplaces are in the U.S. and that we wanted to see what it was like to live in the land of our parents' birth. That we wanted to see if we could make a home here.
For the last few weeks, Naya has been sleeping tucked between us - just as she did when she was first born. I grew up doing the same (although I was never allowed to tell my teachers because my parents feared social services would deem it abnormal). Inspired by a boyhood tale my father told us, I keep telling Naya the story of a puppy separated from its mother and how it found it way home, how a baby's home is with her mother.
A few nights this week, Naya has woken up at 5 a.m. screaming and crying and is unsoothable - not milk, not songs, not stories, not Mommy, not even Elmo.
I wish I could tell her that the confusion over where home lies will end soon. Maybe when she sees her kitchen set and toy Jeep and books in three (!) weeks when our shipment comes, she will understand that we have moved and that home is a different place now. Or perhaps, as we have in our adult years, she will keep fielding the question of just where home is, and that alone will force her to keep looking for it.

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