Moving Part 2 – Letting go

When you’ve moved several homes and countries, you don’t have the clutter that people who’ve never shifted end up accumulating over years. You end up spring cleaning each time you move and what finally remains are the things that have earned their place to stay, over all the other things you possessed. Because, you had no choice but to let go of those other things in the name of decluttering, weight restrictions and container space ( if you’re moving countries). And mostly because, each time you move, you get a chance to relook at your stuff- how many of those baby clothes will you keep as a memory of your one-year-old?, how many of those tickets will you keep as a memory of your holiday to Italy when you have photographs, Murano glass pendants, papier mache masks?

Despite the lack of what I would term, ‘clutter’ and despite being a veteran in moving, I have been struggling with packing over the last two weeks. Unlike our previous moves, where I would simply get everything that mattered packed and moved, or shipped, this time’s different. We are not shipping anything because apparently, it’s not viable- it’ll take 2-3 months to reach and will take any length of time to be cleared from the port and the demurrage charges will have to be borne by us. So, this time, I need to sift through it all and see what’s absolutely essential and can be carried by flight when we go and what needs to be boxed and stored in India because it’s too precious (not materially but in emotional terms). Of those that need to be discarded, I need to sort out what goes to charity and what needs to be sold. It’s not as easy as it seems because letting go is tough and getting a good price for stuff that you know is good, is tougher.

So, I have been occupied all of last week with selling furniture we bought four years ago or lesser when we moved here. The selling was actually fun- at least for the first two days- you know getting calls, clinching deals and seeing the credit come into my account. The best thing was that we found good buyers – those who bought the stuff and were willing to let us use it until we needed to, so, we wouldn’t have to stay in an empty home. It was all good until a few days ago when reality struck me- I was leaving! Since last evening, I’ve been feeling my heart sink.

It’s hard to let it all go- even if the furniture is only four years old- it made a beautiful home. For instance, our 8-seater dining table- it’s seen so many celebrations with family and friends, or the sofa-set- the seat of all our photograph sessions during birthdays, festivals and everything else, or the centre table that we bought at an exotic showroom in Sobo ( South Mumbai – considered to be the elite side of Mumbai). Every time I returned home after a holiday or even a visit to someone else’s home (no matter how grand), I loved how my home looked. It wasn’t the house I loved but just how our home came together with all our things.

I never thought I’d feel this way but, It’s hard to move away from this city. I’ve always said, Mumbai is literally and metaphorically an island- everybody lets you be and nobody gets in your way because everyone’s too busy. I came here telling myself that I shouldn’t get attached to people or life here as I would eventually move. I viewed the place as a tourist would, appreciating everything it provided and being amazed by every new experience, flitting as a butterfly would- I made just enough acquaintances so I could survive the loneliness of having left my life in Dubai. And yet, with just 23 days more to go before we leave, I can’t imagine how it would be not to return to this city again. I’ve managed to make some very good friends here, albeit few – who understood enough to give me space when I needed it, and who were there for me when I needed them; whether I needed to let my hair down or just let out steam- these people were there to celebrate my success- when my first (and only) book got published and pamper me when I needed it.

It’s here I got my first piece of writing published and this is where I found art. I chanced upon a teacher, not too far away from home, with whom I learnt for 6 months in 2019, three days a week, one and a half hours per day – the one who introduced me to pointillism, watercolours, acrylic painting, knife painting and Phad art- the same teacher who asked me not to be afraid of going wrong and pick up the brush when Covid struck; I had not painted for nine months.

It is in this city that I have some of my best and worst memories with dad before he passed. I now know that the bad memories had nothing to do with dad or my relationship with him but old age which can be mean and unforgiving, fear of impending death that makes a person nervous, so focused on themselves, that they fail to see or appreciate anything else going on around them, and my own circumstances. I realized that I probably was my dad’s favourite child (my sister though might not agree) and that he loved us beyond debate.

This city helped me heal and survive. I don’t know if I could have done it as well, anywhere else.

Four years here, and both my girls completed their high school and completed the IB program. When we move, in addition to everything else, my husband and I will have to learn for the first time, how to live as empty-nesters. I’m aware it’s going to be a challenge.

So, you see, there’s actually a lot I’ll be letting go of when I leave Mumbai. It’s going to be a new chapter in our lives and I was excited (as I’d mentioned in my earlier post). But, as the days pass, I feel a sense of dread- of letting go.

Maybe, I have grown old and that’s why I’m finding change difficult. Maybe, it’s because, earlier, when I moved, it was in the country I had grown up in or in the country I was born in. It was never to a country that was alien to me and a way of life that’s different from the one I have lived so far.

I never thought I’d say this but maybe, I’m a little terrified of living in a place that would need me to learn all the things that I have been vehemently against learning all my life, blaming it on my inability to do so. I will have to learn- a) not to leave things lying around as it is not uncommon in the new place, for domestic help to take for oneself anything lying unattended. I’ve always said, ‘it’s too stressful to doubt, so I trust,’ – I’ve been guilty of leaving valuables in the open, but, I’ve been blessed until now, to have been surrounded by honest, hard-working people (save one).

b) to make small talk and socialize (as there are very limited things you can do in the place- there are no malls and not many places worth visiting. I’ve lived my life under the cloak of an introvert and I’ve been happy. The new place will need me to shed the cloak.

c) to learn the language there or how else will I ever communicate with the driver or the domestic help? I have struggled with picking up languages; I cannot speak my own fluently.

It’s not going to be easy; I know. But, I also know that if I can learn all of these three things, then I will have grown as an individual. I would have rid myself of debilitating identities that I’ve grown comfortable with. The transition and the letting go of old habits and ways of living pose a challenge, but when you’re thrown into the deep end, you have no option but to swim if you must survive. So, wish me luck, friends, for the new move, and wish me strength so I keep myself afloat.

Until next time,

Cheers,

Smitha V

16 responses to “Moving Part 2 – Letting go”

  1. Dalo 2013 Avatar

    Beautifully written post, Smitha. Your writing pulls at the strings I felt when I’ve had to move, although this one with you is much more personal. When I read the description of your website: “Following my heart, Daring to dream, Living without regrets,” I see it not only in your writing but with what you do. The story you have about learning to paint, not just on a peripheral level, but to know and achieve as an artist, is heartwarming.
    Looking forward to hearing about your new adventures and accomplishments with your move 🙂 Take care ~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you, Randall for reading the post and writing back. Thank you also for understanding my predicament ( you know, because you’ve been there too) and your good wishes. It’s always a pleasure to read your thoughtful comments because you read so attentively- the lines and between them🙂. Thank you for your good wishes and following my journey. I appreciate it very much🌻.

      Like

  2. Gopalasamudram Subramanian Avatar
    Gopalasamudram Subramanian

    ‘Letting go’ is not simple as it seems. it gets harder as you grow old when the tendency is to hold on to all those memories which have made you what you are now. But it becomes essential for a higher level of existence wherein you need to make space for newer experiences. Of course, there is one thing we can never think of letting go and that is the relationships we have built up and have been meaningful in furthering our value as human beings. I am sure that you will continue to cherish the connections you have been able to make with people and these will stay with you enriching your life. Your post is very sensitive and emotional and well expressed. You are a very affectionate person and have built endearing relationships. Keep it up

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you, Uncle, for hearing (reading) me and listening. Not many people understand or acknowledge that it’s tough. Maybe they think acknowledging it will make me weak. So, thank you for saying it’s okay to feel the way I do. I agree ‘letting go’ is important and it paves the way for new things. If I had not let go of my job,I may have never written ‘Roads’ and if I had not written it, we may never have met. One of the best things about publishing the book, was getting acquainted to you. I cherish our relationship very much. It wouldn’t be wrong to say, you took me under your wing after dad left, and for that I shall be forever grateful to God.

      Like

  3. dgkaye Avatar

    My heart goes out to you Smitha. I can’t imagine your very huge move, but I know well of downsizing and downsizing, but finally having to let go of things and furniture that had been such a joyful part of my life. I went through it all, only I wasn’t moving to another new country treading the unknown. I wish you peace and Godspeed on your journey. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Thank you, Debbie for your warm, comforting words. Your experience of downsizing was so much bigger than mine and that you understand my predicament means a lot to me. Thank you for the good wishes and prayers and for writing back. I will need a lot of those❤️.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. dgkaye Avatar

        Thinking of you. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Baydreamer - Lauren Scott Avatar

    Hi Smitha,
    I wish you all the best in your move and the many changes that lie ahead. But from what I read of your writing, you are strong and resilient at the same time of feeling a little nervous. Regarding the empty-nester phase, my husband and I entered that a year ago. And I can’t say it was easy. Our son and daughter live across country, and while that is difficult, not being able to see them often, we are proud of them flying on their own, pursuing their dreams and paving their own paths. I believe this is what parents strive for in the first place. Once our youngest left, I dove into several house projects, painting, etc, that kept me busy, and the tears began to dissipate. I’m very emotional though, so don’t let me be your emotion barometer. 🙂 Anyway, life is how it should be for us, and hopefully, in the future, we’ll all live closer to each other. Until then, we call, email, text, and fly across country for those much needed hugs! Take good care! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Hi Lauren, thank you for writing back and sharing your experience of being an empty nester. It feels good to know that I’ll have all of you to speak to, even as I travel to a new place and begin a new chapter. I remember reading your post on becoming an enpty-nester and I know it helped me to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. I hold your words as an anchor – that the children have to fly on their own, pursue their dreams and pave their own paths❤️. Thank you so much for this and your warm wishes. I hope I sail through all of this 🙂. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. robbiesinspiration Avatar

    Hi Smitha, this is a frank post and I do understand your emotions. For me, the children leaving would create this feeling of loss on its own. That is inevitable and a part of parenting. The fact that your girls are already ready to fly the nest is a huge accolade to you and your husband. Perhaps you should research some interesting places to visit in the new country. Look into the history and find things to look forward to once you are there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Hi Robbie, when I heard of Dhaka, Bangladesh,I began reading…I told myself it was a new place I could explore and learn and write about- that’s keeping me going.
      Like you said, the thought of the younger one leaving also, had me fretting internally even before I knew of this move. So, when I got to know of it,I was thrilled. I thought it would keep me busy and distracted for a while. However, as days went by, I wondered if not having friends or anything familiar would actually help me and that’s when I wrote this post. I’m going to be strong though and see what God has in store for me. Thank you for hearing me and understanding me❤️. It feels good knowing that you will be there, even in Dhaka🙂.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Toonsarah Avatar

    I’ve been admiring your resilience and positive attitude to the move, but actually it’s good to know you too have doubts and feel wary of letting go. I’m sure you’ll settle there and find lots to like about your new life but it’s natural to be apprehensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Lol…I know what you mean. I ‘m so glad you said it because when you share your fears and doubts with extended family, they think by saying they understand, they are only encouraging my fears. So, thank you, Sarah for hearing me and writing back❤️. It feels good to know that I will have a few people like you who will travel with me to Dhaka and to whom I can speak to ( thank God for this community🙂) without judgment or advice. I am braver knowing this. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. rajkkhoja Avatar
    rajkkhoja

    Hi
    Beautiful sharing for move home and country. Very interested & informative write up blog.
    “You can’t reach what’s in front of you
    Until you let go of what behind you”
    Very nice thought write up.
    I like. Iam so happy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Smitha V Avatar

      Hello….thank you so much🙏. I’m very glad you enjoy reading this blog.

      Liked by 1 person

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