I love my home, my parents are here, I grew up here, it’s MINE. I have a great time with the World’s Best Parents, and the doggies. Our cook is a goddess. My clothes are dropped in the basket and return two days later, magically clean and folded. The fridge is NEVER empty. The car always has gas, and is always clean. There is air-conditioning and two TVs! The club exists, with its library, air-conditioned gym, delicious swimming pool, really cheap alcohol, and lots of eyecandy. The sailing club exists, with the nimbu paani and the spectacular views of the lake. Mangalgiri! My beloved tailor!

And yet, once I’ve been home two days, less if I arrive on a weekend, that familiar sinking begins. My head starts to hurt. My eyes burn. I’m sitting in front of the computer or the TV like a zombie. I think morose thoughts. I feel sorry for myself. I’m convinced that nothing will ever happen right. The inevitable hopelessness beings to close in. I can see it coming, I can tell how far away it is, I can hold it off, but I can’t stop it.

And I can never figure out WHY! But last night it came to me in my half-sleep (along with the most appropriate lyrics from a very familiar song that, of course, I can’t for the life of me remember this morning.) You see, in all the fifteen coherently remembered years of the twenty that home has been here I don’t ever, even once, remember being comfortable outside my house. I realised that, apart from one year in the Pisspot, I have never had friends whom I didn’t feel I was imposing on, into whose lives I didn’t feel I was intruding. What makes it worse is that, of the people I was happy with while at the Pisspot, several have receded from that comfort into the jaw-grinding discomfort of not knowing if I can believe they welcome my company. Right now, in this city, I’m always nervous around every single person whom I know well enough to call a friend (except O), simply because I never know if they mean it when they say I’ll call you, or let’s hang out. I feel like I’m being tossed crumbs, because the really interesting people are busy tonight.

It’s a depressing realisation that almost every single one of the people I call friends can’t be bothered to return a missed phonecall, let alone actually make the effort to call me.

It’s a horrible feeling. No wonder my teeth hurt! And no wonder I’m on edge when I’m here.

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