By Priyanka Pani:
Utopia has meant different things to me at different times, over the years. You would identify with me on this one.
To start with, a toddler would list being in a cocoon in its parents’ arms as its favorite place on earth. Move a little up the evolutionary chart and you have young adolescents and their quirks, who, if given the opportunity, would banish that annoying opposite sex (whom they cannot comprehend at that stage) from the world, and then name it Utopia. Move on to that much-reviled, much-discussed species, the teenagers — and things change quite dramatically. Utopia for them would probably be a place farthest from home. Also, a being given a free hand at almost everything, and minimal parental interference, would definitely up the market value of this teenage utopia.
I am sure you get the idea by now. At different times in our lives, depending on how we are faring in life, love and work, we develop various, sometimes contradictory, definitions of our own personal paradise. These would generally take the form of being some kind of respite from the usual, the mundane. For the overworked corporate employee, with a dictator- like boss, nothing would be better than an indefinite, all-expense paid cruise to the Bahamas.
For an overworked mum, walking the tight- rope between being a professional, and a home-maker, utopia would be a time and space where the work gets done on its own, without the slightest exertion on her part. A stress- free, happy world where the children come home with perfect grades and the boss awards you a raise every Friday. Ah! Nothing could get more blissful. For the disillusioned city slicker, a dose of the uncomplicated, good old countryside would be enough to send the spirits soaring.
Then, for some, there is just home- just plain, simple, welcoming, loving home. I believe I would perpetually fall under this category. I have always been pretty much a home bird, and my new address, “…Etc, Ladies Hostel…” is almost a painful reading.
That longing to go home and get pampered silly by the people I love the most, is a longing, which,Â I am quite positive, no other individual, or group of individuals, will be able to produce in me.
It is that feeling of displacement, of not being where you feel you belong. Now, one must not typecast me as a hostel inmate writing this in an acute state of homesickness. It runs deeper than that, way deeper. Home may not offer the excitement of a night- club, the adrenalin overdose of a trek or a midnight drag race. However, unlike all the others, it is not ephemeral. Home stands for a sense of assurance, stability and long-term happiness. There is always a feeling of being at peace with the world when family and friends surround you.
A few years back, when I resided in teenage wasteland, I probably would have balked at the very thought of ever looking upon home as perfection on earth. Many of you may still feel the same way, whatever be your reasons. I hope that you would have found something equally endearing. Everyone needs utopia; it is not restricted to childhood bedtime stories alone. It is real and is of a very subjective nature. I only wish Utopian Leave were an option in offices, just as they have a maternity leave, and schools/colleges included this essential thing in their curriculum!
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