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When we decided we were moving to Nigeria from India, our decision was obviously met with a lot of mixed reactions. The overriding emotion was that of concern and worry. After all, Nigeria was infamous for the Boko Haram, and kidnappings and robberies were commonplace—or so we’d heard. So when I landed here, I expected to lead a life shrouded by some amount of fear.
Exactly the opposite has happened, but for different reasons.
Because we put most of our furniture and personal stuff into sea freight, we actually came with a few clothes, daily medicines, basic linen, some pairs of shoes and anything else we would need on an immediate basis. Having already lived like that for over a month now, and pretty comfortably I might add, (the apartment already had all the basic furniture and gadgets one needs daily), I’ve been thinking about how much we collect over the years, when we actually need so little to survive, and survive well.
In my newfound Zen like state, I have observed that—clichéd as it might sound–roti, kapda aur makaan are really what one needs. We keep a good table, we have enough clothes, the kids are into school and sports, and we sleep well. We have TV, for books I have my Kindle, and for music, well, we all have our phones now.
So, do we really need the endless bedcovers, the Wedgwood from England, the masks from Bali, the white applique napkins from Hong Kong, the watercolour from Montreal? Do the kids actually use all the board games and books and toys and art and craft supplies they have? When I have managed with one pair of black heels, some flats and my sneakers, do I really need all the other pairs that are on their way, bobbing somewhere in the ocean right now?
Probably not. Which is why I’m feeling free. And pared down. There’s less to dust, there’s less to worry about breakage, there’s less to keep track off. I get ready in a jiffy because my cupboard is so simplified. We entertain, but everyone understands if the plates don’t match or if some stuff is makeshift. We borrow, we lend, we make friends. Life is simpler but no less richer.
In fact, I have not carried any jewellery, thanks to all the advice. On most days all I’m wearing is my fitness tracker and I don’t feel naked at all. All the emeralds and diamonds are safely ensconced in the locker while I roam around, not a care in the world. Since I have nothing to lose, I have no fear.
At social gatherings, it has crossed my mind that I might look under dressed. But then, as you grow older, you judge not by clothes but by interesting conversations. You engage, not because of solitaires and stones but because of travel, and books, and music. You focus on polishing not the silver, but yourself.
I have met so many interesting people in the past month, several from India, and not one of them is sitting doing nothing at all. Many of them paint, rekindling old passions, taking classes to hone their technique, learning a musical instrument, getting fitter, or educating themselves further. In the absence of material possessions, the priority shifts. You work on yourself, you work on cultivating meaningful relationships, and without mindless engagements to fill up your social calendar, you discover a different kind of freedom.
So if the shift has forced me to de-clutter, learn to live with less (even if temporarily), and allowed me to focus on myself rather than on what I wear and sport, it’s a freedom I definitely want to hold on to. Even if it has come miles from home.