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If anyone ever wonders what migrating feels like, they should ask a civil employee’s family. No one knows the way shifting cities every two to four years takes its toll better than them.

Shaipa Pandey

If anyone ever wonders what migrating feels like, they should ask a civil employee’s family. No one knows the way  shifting cities every two to four years takes its toll better than them. That’s how things rolled for me and my family —  new schools to adapt to, new friends to learn new things from, contrasting cultures to blend into, and as soon as I felt at home, it was time for a new city. 

In the last two decades, we’ve shifted to six different places. Each city I have lived in holds bittersweet memories. Moving houses, changing cities was easier when I was a kid. All I had to worry about was the change of school and change of friends. But, as I grew up, the change in the environment affected my mentality — the way I viewed life changed with every new place I migrated to. Every new move, from packing for the move to settling down in the new city, was a new puzzle we had to solve. 

At six years old, my world was surrounded by walls. I thought the entire world was inside that government facility in  Palpa, where my father was stationed at the time. I had a dozen or so friends to play with and it was alright. I did go to school but it was like an occasional visit to a place where I only partially belonged. I moved to Butwal when I was ten years old. I remember feeling like a teeny tiny ant braving a huge ant colony. The people around me also looked like ants, but the difference between us was that they knew what they were doing and who they belonged with. I was lost there, but eventually, I found myself a place to laugh and learn in Butwal for the next nine years. And then, when I had to shift to Kathmandu. I packed all my possessions inside two big red bags, readying myself to take on another puzzle. It’s been two years and I still feel lost here. 

I haven’t found myself yet. But it’s okay, I’ve come to realize that finding oneself as well as finding inner peace is a slow process and you excel with time. The thing that isn’t okay is the absence of a feeling of belonging somewhere. To me, shifting cities came at a cost of not having a particular place that made me feel at home. I find places of belonging in not places and cities but with people, emotions, possessions, culture, and food. Places change, people grow, but once they feel like home, they will always remain the same, no matter where you are. No new city can take it apart.

 

 

Shaipa is a poet and a Language and Arts instructor with the Book Bus.

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