As I give one last look with my forehead pressed to the Plexiglas of the United Airlines window, I see the grayish waters below that claimed possession to land that was never meant to be in the first place. I also see bits and pieces of green land that was altered by humans just to get re-altered by nature. We cannot blame nature when we have been just as unpredictable and intervening. Building a home where there ought to be water by building a levee system, pumping water out of your man-made bathtub, adding a feet of dirt and hoping you are safe is not a great idea. Katrina thought us that.
I close the shutter, but can’t seem to shut my mind. I was standing in that green land just a few hours ago feeling happy that I’m finally going back home. Now that I am actually on my way home, I can’t help but feel a strange void. The fact that I am going to the privacy and comfort of my home while there are tens and thousands who are hoping to get back to theirs at least before Christmas. The fact that I spoke to so many of them and made promises that I could not keep makes me sick in the stomach. I will miss those hugs that say –‘Thank you for hearing me out.’ The folks I worked/interacted with were such awesome people that I got attached to in such a short period of time. I will miss them. This is not an experience I can forget in a long time to come, nor do I want to.
For the first time in a month, I am actually sitting down with nothing to do. I don’t think I can stand it any longer. Everything else around me trivializes its cause by just being there. Like my friends who desperately seek to buy a house and have criteria like ‘black granite counter tops in the kitchen and off-white carpet in the bedrooms and nothing less.’ I am in a trance and I will surely get back to being my old selfish self and everything in the world will have a purpose…even black granite counter tops.
Right now it’s odd not to see damaged buildings, fallen electric poles, sign boards ripped off, stores looted or people flocking at a Walmart at 4 am so that they can get supplies before they run out of it by noon. I keep holding myself back from calling up my team and finding out what’s going on down there. Did Debra get her trailer? Did Don Craft sign the lease? I can’t seem to get these people off my head.
Meanwhile, I must insist that I am OK, as Ok as I can be under circumstances. It’s indeed strange for a person like me to be bogged down, and I can fully understand people’s concern. As I was relating the things I saw and felt in New Orleans, one of my colleagues just happened to relay my thoughts to the upper management in a dinner meeting few days ago. And unknowingly he set me up with a corporate counselor!! Yikes!
‘Do you want to talk?’ said the guy.
‘Only if I can bring up my marital issues.’
No seriously, Pi has been enjoying himself for a whole month and it’s my fault. As soon as I landed in Chicago, he performed some mandatory husband duties. Got me a gift, hugged and kissed me… took me to dinner to friend’s house (strange, I know) and then asked me if I was planning on going back again.
Secondly, he has completely forgotten the nagging protocol, my different eye gestures and that I can get things done by crying and making a scene. We go to a friend’s place for dinner and when it’s time to leave I would normally look at his direction and raise my eyebrows. That means, ‘I am ready to go. Get your ass out of here NOW.’ It doesn’t mean, ‘Whatsup?’ like he thought it meant the other day. He mumbled something like, “ I am doing great sweets’ and continued to sit in the couch watching baseball with the beer, not even showing signs of I-might-get-up-in-the-next-ten-minutes. Aggggrrrh! I have to start the training from scratch.