Travel Plans (Aliyah)
I am sitting here in Bhoomi’s “cloakroom” (his unoccupied apartment) in Chennai, in the middle of a minor panic attack. Maybe writing this will help me to calm down. Maybe it will make things worse. This panic has to do with my travel plans, as usual.
I am, in most things, a very disorganized person. My bedroom looks like a tornado just swept through it (in fact, the first sentence of my college entrance essay was “my room is an archeological dig”), my desk is usually just barely usable, and my notes are so illegible and unorganized that they only help me in studying because if I took a note of something, I am more likely to remember it when combing through the layers of the “garbage brain” that I inherited from my father.
But I am a creature of habit. I like my meals to be at the same time every day, and I do not mind if there is not much variety in them (it surprises Krishnammal that I don’t care if rice and sambar and curd are served every day as long as they taste good, and they do!) I can’t go to bed at 11 on weekdays and 3 am on weekends, which sometimes limits my weekend activities with my fellow college-student friends. I have to have a base of habit as a foundation to build my life.
I particularly dislike disruption in my travel plans. Travel is a removal from one’s usual habits and the formation of new ones, and when even the plan for the changing is disturbed, I become upset. Last winter, I was stuck in an airport for two days due to a snowstorm, and by the end, I was ready to scream at everyone in sight.
Here, trying to figure out tickets to Gujarat, I feel like the man in the Gospel who builds his house on the shifting sands. Krishnammal keeps changing her plans, or rather has no plans, and I’m trying to plan around her. She’s going to Delhi on the 20th and could come back any time between the 26th and the 30th. I thought we were going back to Kuthur on the 15th but apparently we aren’t. I leave India August 2nd. Plans rush through my head, each as unsatisfactory as the next. Should I leave the 15th or the 17th or the 20th? Should I come back the 24th or the 28th? Should I go back to Kuthur or not?
Finally, after praying with Krishnammal and Sathya and leaving to take Sathya to the new and fancy Chennai bus stop, I feel more settled in mind. I realize that whatever I choose, when I look back on it, it will probably not matter much. I remember that whatever happens is part of a pattern, and that. even though I cannot see the order in it, I am sure that there is one. I still don’t know exactly what tickets I will buy, though I think I will leave on the 17th, return on the 24th, and spend a few days back in Kuthur Bbut I am no longer so worried.
In later life, I think I will probably become either an activist or a hermit. The monk in his monastery is considered to be in close touch with God, but to me the person who moves about in this wide, wild, sometimes terrifying world, and still lets God have control, is far more extraordinary, and pursues a far more difficult goal. It is a goal I would love to reach, but I am so far away from it now. I know it will take me years of practice, but that is only a greater reason to start now, with such a trivial matter as a train ticket to Gujarat.
Arut perum jothi,
Thani perum karunai.
Arut perum jothi.