When Shama came home, it was a return of sorts. Of spices and flowers and relinquishing the fact that yet another son of the soil had come back to till it to bear flowers and fruits that sold at the local market for a healthier audience that paid for healthier deals. For every return came with a bouquet of ideas mushroomed from not being home; that rose from being a loner in a place where he was sent to learn to be a loner that would come back home and teach the rest of life and the ways to live it. Or so they expected. But the fact remained that no one learnt it from anyone that had returned. They wanted to see it and learn it all the hard way. The harder way. For them and for those who sent them to foreign lands. And so another son of the soil went away. To return on a distant and forgotten day when he would touch the land with his sore foreign feet, feel the ruggedness of the land that breathed softer, think of how silly the outside world was to have laid concrete and tar over it, stifling the land beneath by trodden feet over, and go home to the now foreign but welcome comforts of home and boast of the lands that he had been to and seen and talk of how home was what he yearned for; not the land. Two thoughts, playing in his mind, like a parody of parallels.
And everyone gaped. For they had remained among the unfortunate many that did not stand a chance among better humans; those that could talk better, looked better or just were better off. They listened intently to his stories of yonder and giggle and go back to dream of a distant day that could never come, when they would stand by the edge of a waterfall and gaze into the eyes of a sweetheart and fall into the infinite cascades underneath, and wake up to blow into their stoves of twigs until they choked and cried and dreamt again. Cruel life.
And Shama slept on a bed that felt alien yet warm. He looked into a mirror that was old and childish and kept smiling back at him like the visible fool that he had been in time uncounted ago. He dug into a dinner that was never like the overtly soda-d food at a city restaurant; they made him want to come back; the soda and the place. But he stood it all, like the city and civilization that he had grown a part of. The horns and the smoke sweetly poisoned his blood. Society was what he just wouldn’t see; the cows in the shed were too much of a bother!
Many promises; that’s what the life he led had led him into. A promise kept was another broken; for there were just too many of them that he had made and that people around him had made to complement his, that the convergence of their goals had but turned a blunt knuckle that just wouldn’t clunk into place and wouldn’t poke any one or thing.
And today, as he wrote for his return tickets and shamelessly borrowed money that his unfortunate kin would work for a generation to repay, he wondered at the promises he had kept. He had come back, after all. And an obligatory going-back beckoned like a paradox.
And after all, in the village, no one said “And so I go.” They always added “And shall come back!” That made their days. That made their lives. Returns. Few but many enough.