Today is Day 14 of my visit to Karachi. I got here after delaying the trip numerous times to get our renewed passports located and in our possession. The day after I got here, the country went into lockdown. My dad is on Day 12 and mom on Day 8 of their Covid diagnosis. It has been one helluva summer! In the home, we have set up our separate spaces. The kids and I are upstairs, they are downstairs. We circumvent each other when meeting in the lounge on the way to eat in the verandah which is ventilated and breezy. The kids are on a(n): eat, Alexa, Minecraft, pretend play, throw a ball routine.. on repeat.. three times a day. Fine, there is reading, writing, and some math homeschooling thrown in but I think they have forgotten why they ever thought playing with other kids was fun. They seem quite content.
Through all this though, there is something very soothing about being back. Being enveloped in familiarity. Within walls that have changed with me, whispering memories as I walk by. Stepping into my room and turning on the points of light that I know like the back of my hand. Filling up the emptiness, the corners with things that identify me, melding the then and now so harmoniously. I know this room so well. My book collection, college memorabilia, photo albums, smiling half-forgotten faces in pictures, letters, missed connections, trinkets that were loved so much, smooth stones alluding to an idyllic, now obscure day at the beach, junk but super meaningful junk, at least to me. I know how the light moves and dances through the bamboo screen on the windows. I can tell the time by the way the sun slants in. I feel like I inhabit this space wholly. And I can feel it glow back. A bit dimmer now as if it is ageing with me. Maybe most of all, I love it that my daughter calls it her room now.
I also know I am very lucky to have this connection to the old me. There are many who don’t have their safe spaces anymore or did not have one to begin with. It is one of the things in my life that is very grounding and ultimately transient and so very precious. These thoughts also jolt me with another, equally sobering thought. Each time we leave, we take this warmth with us. The room loses its shine and goes back to the gloom of abandonment. I now understand the term ‘empty nest’. To avert your glance as you walk by a space or neglect it because it reminds you of people who have left it. Thankfully, we are all healthy and happy in our homes. One of the many lessons of this pandemic that has fallen at our feet is the importance of the few. The rest all fades. The true pod wins. Connecting to roots, whatever that may mean and if it is even available, feels like the right thing to do at this moment.
And I think about returning to Brooklyn at the end of the month and the kids’ overloaded calendar, Delta variant playing havoc globally, the return to socialization that will need to happen and I get a sense of trepidation. How will we do it? But then I remember that children are bright sparks and they are resilient. They will figure it out, as they have done, many times much better than us. I have full faith in them and that calms me. And I also place an intention on returning sooner to my sweet parents, who are on their way to recovery on the back of many prayers and full vaccinations, come rain or shine. But first, waiting for summer to truly begin..