April 15, 2004 ~ 10:51pm
If you've never read The Odyssey, I'd recommend it. It's the story of an unfortunate Greek warrior who must make a perilous trek to return to his homeland after years of being stranded. I remember reading it my senior year in high school and having a great deal of apprehension for its exam. It was the first exam for our Humanities class and that friday before the exam I went home as usual dreading the studying I would have to do over the weekend. Something worse was waiting for me.
As it turns out my grandmother passed away in India that day. Needless to say, studying was all but impossible and I missed my prescheduled study groups. It was difficult for me to fully understand the loss. I could not even remember her face. I can't imagine what it was like for my mother, who knew that when she left her mother years before, that they would never meet again. Unfortunately I had developed a detachment for my relatives back at home. It's not as if I cared for them less, I just came to realize that the world between us made their memories incredibly intangible. And even though I grieved with the rest of my family, I couldn't help feeling that it was just another distant relative. Life here had made me feel that things at home were somewhat irrelevant - a tragedy in and of itself.
And painfully, the weekend passed. I walked into my humanities class on monday morning and approached my instructor, Mr. V, who was scrambling to organize everyone. I said to him "My grandmother passed away this weekend, would you mind if I don't take the exam today?". He paused and he looked at me with a half disgusted half shocked look on his face and finally replied "Are you serious?". Let me recall, was I serious? I don't think I could have been more sincere that moment. I'm not sure what he was thinking but I politely replied with a yes. He just shook his head a bit and said, "of course" before he excused me to the library. So I wasted the whole hour in the library thinking about the futility of actually studying. The following day after classes I arrived promptly for my make-up exam. Not only was he late, but he also left the exams elsewhere. So in the end I had a little under a half hour to complete the entirely essay exam. I received a surprising B+, with the note "Great Effort!" for an attempt that didn't have much. So I wonder today, was the grade earned or out of pity?
I guess it doesn't really matter anymore. What matters more to me now is that the fates have given me an opportunity to return home. A chance to go home and end the feelings of distance that have lingered since my childhood. It's been over two decades since I've seen the faces of those who I only know by name. After 21 long years of feeling "stranded" in this country, I get to make the trek to my homeland. I get to see the fields where I played, meet the people who held me as an infant, visit the graves of those I may never remember and take part in a land that is in my culture as much as it is in my blood. I can't describe my feelings in words ... or maybe I just did.