This all pervading sense of hopelessness
is ever stronger the further I venture from my homeland.
My roots are torn up,
globalised beings though we are,
and now everything is only a plane trip away,
a Skype call away,
a Whatsapp away. Why is it
that this feeling of purpose does not imbue me
now that I’m on foreign soil?
Do I feel content in my homeland because
my singular purpose is to exist in that little
bubble world, the place I was born,
the people who birthed me,
the mountains and trees and grass
who comforted me?
Are these trees and mountains not essentially the same
as those low-lying mountains I see in
the distance from Bucchanan Street?
The ones spotted with gigantic white swooshing wind collectors.
I am found, I think,
yet I’ve never felt more lost or disconnected.
In the countries I backpacked through, with
nought but my Walt Whitman poem
and new freckles
and my infant sense of identity,
I knew I belonged with those strangers, the
beautiful people I glimpsed or said a word to,
the people whose paths I crossed for just a moment
in time before our feet took us in directions ever spiraling
away from each other. I belong
in those colourful cultures,
dusty, chaotic, mesmerising, frightening,
thousands of lives lived separately in the same street,
the smell and crackle of an oily wok in a doorway,
decrepit street-king dogs,
starched uniform children,
old toothless woman grin,
incessant calling and harassing to earn a living,
dust stirred by screeching taxis or rickshaws,
madness and despair and infinite poverty and tourism and
money and laughter and a glimpse into their real lives
and a brief unveiling of their country
and a snapshot into my insides
that are just as unknown and squalid as this dust city.
Tell me, why
do I feel restless and out of place like a hand in a shoe
in this new city, this cosmopolitan centre of
coolness and creativity? Why
don’t I feel cool and creative,
why do I feel as though there should be something more
added to this supposed completeness, this
material job house friends security that doesn’t feel as real as
my orange backpack on my shoulders. And did I
feel purposeful, useful, motivated, contented, whole
when I still lived in the caldera of the curving mountains,
or was it that I hadn’t left yet
to experience the fullness of life that only a traveller can know?
These feelings, I can’t place them.
I pine for my family, my home, my mountains and trees and grasses,
and I pine for the chaos of living second to second with
your life on your back and
continual five minute soul mates.
I pine for that drenching knowledge that
I am where I am meant to be and
I am doing what I am meant to do and
I am who I am meant to be,
and did I get a glimpse of that when I was travelling,
or am I glorifying an intensely beautiful experience from reality to fantasy,
a glorious unattainable fantasy I will only ever dream about
and pine for
in all my days?
Or are these answers not hidden in the
the unseen valleys,
the unmet people,
but all inside