The City My Muse by Mitali Chakravarty

Mitali Chakravarty

Looking at the clouds that float, changing contours through the day, I marvel as I imagine them waft across borders drawn by men over mountains and lands …like the breeze – unhindered and unbarred. No immigration stops them. Long ago, I had lived in another city, another place, another time zone. So, much has happened since then. Even if the rain falls in the same way across borders, I cannot go back to where I lived or undo what has happened within these three decades. Nor would I want to undo the magic of childhood as it abracadabraed into adulthood that connects me to wider seas and more open skies. 

I am glad for all the places I could visit and experience. I do not have any roots because I am not a tree. Do I want roots? I really do not know. My past and that of my forefathers are in my bones and blood. Why does that have to be attached to a piece of land or to objects which mutate over time? I like being free, free of all bondage, free from all things that tie me down, except perhaps for the ties of love. Ties of love make me feel accepted, cherished, and wanted. They do not judge me or hold me back but let me fly.

I like to think of floating in the sky. I want to be a cloud — a cloud that is free to drift without bothering about boundaries or climates. Living as I do in my current city, skies connect me back to the home where I was born and grew up.  Life back then had been so engrossing that I never wanted to leave the place of my birth. Then why did I leave my original home? I left for love. I left for adventure. There was no compulsion — no monetary need. Most of the time, I have enjoyed living in multiple cities. I love every place I lived in.

I enjoyed the variety of cultures as much as the diverse flavours in each city’s cuisine. Natural splendours and historic wonders in every part of the world I have passed through continue to mesmerise me. The sunrises and the sunsets continue vibrant and distinct and yet they colour the same blue sky that stretches out a welcome to all on Earth. I feel each experience has enriched me. I am happy with what I am today. Each event, each place, each person, each being, each leaf and each flower that came my way contributed towards the sense of ultimate calm which is necessary for me to write. And writing is like breathing. I feel at home everywhere because the skies connect and let me travel wherever I want in my mind.

Though a lover of nature, I cannot imagine living in the woods or in a village. I need my city comforts. That is why I have opted to live in a city-state which is green and beautiful. The mingling of people, waves, trees, birds, animals, and buildings that seem to reach out to grasp the skies, voices the ambition of the tiny island I live in. It has reached out to the world to create a bridge between the East and the West. You have people from everywhere in the world living here and multiracial marriages and families. I enjoy this mingling with its vibrancy and energy.

I also feel fortunate that this city-state has laws that work. That gives me the quiet I need to think and write. The little dot on the globe has unfurled a welcome to people who want to move towards a better future. Of course, one needs to work hard wherever one lives to have a better life. Then, one needs good schools and colleges for youngsters, which I must say we have here in abundance.

The only darkness that mars is borne of biases which rip the whole world with their hurtful exclusivity. You find them everywhere in different garbs, using different names. There is no escape except to have the courage to stand up to them and hold your own. You have to be like the sun with them. The sun never reacts when critiqued for being too hot or too strong in the tropics and too cool at the poles. In my travels, I have learnt to find friends. They are often nomads like me, and we stay connected in a virtual world. My horizons broadened with each new friendship, each new move and sunshine filled my life with plenitude.

Leaving home also gave me fresh perspectives on the country I left behind. Recently, I read a Bengali travelogue by a disciple of Tagore who had been taught by the great maestro himself called Syed Mustaba Ali. Translated as In a Land Far from Home by BBC’s South Asia editor, Nazes Afros, the book contended: “The German poet Goethe had rightly said that one would not understand the true nature of his own country unless he went to a foreign land.” I have not read Goethe (1739-1842) – but I agree with his viewpoint. To understand your own home better, you need to view it unbiased from a distance. A current glimpse of the city where I spent the first two decades of my life makes me feel I can never fit into it as I am now. I have changed with time. The country has changed. My city has changed multiple times.

There is a saying, ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss’. Even if I allow myself to be to be a pebble instead of a speck, I do not want to gather moss. I would like to shine pure and clean – washed by a mountain stream. I want to shine so that I can be a light, giving hope to those who feel themselves sinking into abysmal darkness.

Sitting by the open window, I watch the clouds and long to float with them to yet another place, another time…


Bio: Mitali Chakravarty writes for peace, love and harmony. In that spirit, she has founded the Borderless Journal.


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