It's the pre-India fear again. I am not ecstatically happy as I was a week ago. On the eve of my departure, India is more frightening than exciting.
What would one year of absence throw on my face?
Would appa's prosthetic knee have slowed him down further, making his age that much more obvious?
Would there be extra greys on amma's head, and denser wrinkles on her hand?
Would my sisters' lives have evolved so much that I become not more than an annual guest?
Like I keep saying, though I return year after year to India, my reference point is still the year I left it for good (or worse) in 1999. Those are the memories that are frozen in my mind...
But for those who have continued to live there, there is little connection to what life had been 8 years ago.
Am I already a stranger at home? Can I still call it home? India, Chennai...
This fear never goes away. If anything, it festers, and grows deeper every year.