Homesick During Tihar!!:/

26th October 2011
It was Tihar today, my favorite festival. And I happen to be posted in Sri Lanka, from Nepal, in a Fredkorpset Norway Exchange Program! As much as I am beginning to love my new home, Sri Lanka with all its serenity and contrasts; with its warm beaches, its coyness; its spices and coconuts; the long names; twisty dialects; the artistic script , which I am yet to learn and the tyrannical heat; being away from one’s family is always hard. Especially for a girl like me who has never been away from home, it is painfully difficult. I was in Bangkok during Dasain as well, for the 19th Fk exchange preparatory course, but there were many others like me, my country people; who were also away from their homes; and it’s amazing how nationalities and commonness can bring people together. Though I missed home then, there were many of us missing our homes, so we celebrated Dasain together along with others and it ended quite well.
It’s not that people here don’t have Tihar. Actually today was a holiday for Diwali here. The Tamil community celebrates Diwali here. So, almost everyone knows what it is about. People were wishing me Happy Diwali and asking me about it. But since this is my fourth day in a new country, all alone, I decided not to try and celebrate Tihar here. I did try to find a temple here, but I couldn’t go by myself and others, who could accompany me to the temple; either didn’t know where it was or were too busy to take me there. Disheartened, I just tried to carry on as I would on any other Saturday. “” – an SRK movie released today. Senali Akki suggested we go watch a movie and since it’s an SRK movie, I thought it would be a good distraction, if I again felt homesick. Just in case! So we went to watch it; first day, first show. It was a good movie, we had lots of fun. After that we went to have pizza and choco-sundae and then went shopping. So, the morning ended just like any other holiday.
Later, she had to attend a funeral. So, I stayed back and then did my laundry; did some for her too. And guess what? While doing laundry, my mind would automatically race back to Nepal, to my home. I would wonder, “my mom must be preparing Laxmi Bhog now”; “my daddy must be fixing the electric lights now”. I would force myself back to reality, try to focus on the laundry but then again my mind would wander around and I would think- “Dad must be tired now after shopping so much” or else, “I would be doing this now” and then again “I hope Babu is helping them, how can my mother do it alone without me??” And PANG!!! It struck there, right in the left chest and the pain, the agony; is so hard and so sharp that tears well down my eyes. The so called “Homesickness”! Not for the first time; but strong and increasingly painful every time.
Dasain wasn’t this difficult. Like I said it must be so because there were many other Nepalese there; and many other international friends too; and it’s always good when you someone who shares your pain, isn’t it? After all, sharing doubles the joy and divides the pain! But here, I tried to keep it inside. With whom would I share my pain anyways? Neither there were anyone who knew about Tihar, nor were they away from their countries. Anyways, I finished the laundry and to save myself from another pang of homesickness, I took two cups of coffee and went downstairs to chat with Nishanka Akki, my landlady. After that, I came upstairs again and decided to finish the book, Nishanka akki had given me earlier. Coincidentally, the book happens to be “Have a little faith” by Mitch Albom. It’s a good book and I totally love it but in this festive season, a book on faith would make you miss home and the festivals more, wouldn’t it? Especially when you are not trying to think about their religious customs and traditions!!Aaargghhhh! I read a few chapters but could not continue properly as my mind then kept playing the whole festival preparation and rituals over and over again. And then to kick this homesick feeling, I decided to follow my heart, celebrate however I could and make myself happy.
So, I cleaned the flat; like I would clean my house if I had been in Nepal. As I didn’t have anything to celebrate with; no puja thaalis; no patakas; no bhogates; and no diyos either. So, I lit candles. I lit candles; in my room window; in the balcony and in my living space. Nishanka Akki was all alone downstairs. She is a Buddhist and there is an idol of Lord Buddha on the stairs. I asked her if I could light a candle there, and she allowed me. She even brought fresh flowers from the garden and offered them for me. We prayed together.
And I asked Goddess Laxmi; the goddess of wealth and prosperity, the deity of the festival; to give me courage and strength to overcome this pain, this homesickness. I asked goddess Laxmi to remind me when needed; that I had fought to get here; that I had wanted to be here and I had left a lot there, to be here. I asked her to help me to learn new things, to learn good things and to strengthen myself along the journey; the journey to find Krity Shrestha; the journey to find myself. I asked her to take care of my family back home; to take care of my friends back home and to take care of everyone who needed care. I asked all this to Goddess Laxmi, praying before the Image of Lord Buddha. And it felt so good. There were no rituals; no customs; no traditions; but I prayed and I prayed from my heart. And I prayed truly.
And later when Senali Akki , my flatmate, came home; I had microwave- parathas, apples, frozen milk for dinner and came to bed as usual. Inside, I feel really good. Now, that is how I spent my Tihar, away from home. 🙂

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