“Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart, if they exist, I will still not have the power to forget you.”
Publius Ovidius Naso, Roman poet
Homesickness has been defined as “a negative emotional state primarily due to separation from home, characterised by longing for and preoccupation with home, and often with difficulties adjusting to a new place.” Homesickness often feels like unrequited love. We build this perfect image of the person or place we are missing. We remember the best-case scenario as an everyday occurrence. Our brains filter out the bad bits, focusing on the times when everything was perfect. To think of not being there, or not being with the person any more, makes us feel helpless.
The gap between what we want to be happening and what we are actually feeling is a huge aspect of homesickness. This tension between expectations and reality is one of the most important things to be aware of while acclimatising to living abroad. The frustrations caused when expectations are not in line with reality can quickly make us forget that part of the reason we came abroad in the first place was to challenge ourselves. On the contrary, when reality outdoes expectations, we are left feeling ecstatic. It’s a minefield of emotions!
Part of the challenge is taking the rough with the smooth, and above all, making sure that your expectations have been met or exceeded, making it easier to deal with the instances where you may have felt short-changed.
Saraf Ali Bhat, a computer science engineering student from Pampore town, compiled his second short novel, Triggered Sorrows, in the year 2019. It was published by Educreation publishing house. Bhat bagged the first place in the self-help category of The Global Reader’s Choice Awards 2019 for this book. His debut novel, A Smile Worth A Billion Poems, was published in 2017.
This book is about the story of a teenage student who leaves home for further studies and later experiences homesickness. Bhat in this book highlights the problems students face when they are out of home. The characters remind us of people we have seen in our lives. It makes the reader imagine the struggles and miseries and even adventures that a person goes through while being away from home. From accepting the challenge of staying away from home to losing the same challenge, it’s a story of dreams, expectations, realisations and setbacks.
“My father had insisted that he would come with me to Jammu and help me settle. No way! I’m not a kid anymore, I can do it by my own, don’t you worry father, I said. Moreover, the family needed him because it was my grandma and my mother along with my two little sisters in the house whom he had to leave to come along with me. At that time I realised how aggressive I was in my childhood. I would always make sure that dad dropped me from a quiet distance to the school gate, so no one could see that my parents had come to drop me.”
Bhat’s writing is thoughtful, poignant, and insightful. It gives an insight into what a person, especially a student, feels while being away from home and family. It is an insight into the many ups and downs experienced after making the decision of living away from home. The excitement of going to an altogether new place is soon replaced by the feeling of loneliness and despondency. This feeling of remoteness gives rise to unwanted anxiety and apprehension, which in no way helps the student but rather makes his condition more miserable.
Bhat beautifully portrays the different scenarios from his experience of leaving home and perfectly puts them into his writing. Bhat sets an example for those hundreds and thousands of Kashmiris who want to write.