What Do Indians Abroad Miss More Than Their Families? The Jet Spray in Their Toilet

Humour

What Do Indians Abroad Miss More Than Their Families? The Jet Spray in Their Toilet

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Oprecious, far-flung piece of my heart,

I still remember the last time I saw you like it was only five minutes ago. There you were, your chrome all a-glitter, hanging out by the bathroom wall, gloriously reflecting gentle sunlight across a canvas of beige tiles. It’s almost like I can reach out to hold you right now, with your ergonomic form and your sleek lever fitting in my hand better than any lover. Here in the strange land that they call Ireland, there’s no one quite like you, my dear jet spray.

I’m trying to understand why I miss you, because you may not know this, but outside our little shared world of the bathroom, I try to be introspective. I don’t know if it’s the comfort of knowing you were always there for me, even through the stinkiest mornings, or how you always made me feel clean. I don’t know if it’s because you were so thorough, and never gave up on me. I don’t know if it’s because I could control a few things on the planet with as much ease as your gently regulated flow of water. Maybe it was all of them, or maybe I’m just weak and you’re a habit I didn’t want to break.

Your absence is hard to endure here, in the phoren. I’ve been getting by using rolls of what’s called toilet paper. It tries, it really does, with its soft, triple-ply texture. But it takes so much work and so much risk to be with it. I never know how things will end up. My hands ache for you every time I visit the loo for a demanding excursion, and my soul misses you every time I take a shower to accomplish what you did with a simple splash.

It scares me that Western civilisation has hung out on the moon, built the fastest cars, and continues to innovate at technology’s cutting edge, but still misses out on your simple beauty. Why, why would they settle for such an unclean method of cleanliness when someone like you exists? They won’t do the dishes without running water, but are frighteningly happy to go without it while doing their business.

I’m tired of singing your praises to those who’d listen, and those who really didn’t want to. Like all naysayers, they are stuck in their dogma. I almost enjoy it, because simply knowing about you makes me feel enlightened and evolved.

Yet, every time I pass by an Indian, we take a moment to look deep into each other’s eyes, and we know that nothing unites us quite like you.

I miss you, and find myself thinking about you at the oddest of hours. While listening to songs with water in the lyrics, while walking to the supermarket, while I’m out for a drink, and every morning, which takes me back to the times we shared together. It was always just you, me, and sometimes a smell that I immediately apologised for. Our separation feels so much more painful than the most tear-jerking scenes from Baghban.

You were kind to me on those days, forgiving my indulgences of steak, mutton, and pork, and all of them in amounts no sane human should eat. But you’ve always known I’m not a sane person. That is something no one who shares our degree of comfort could hide.

I’m scared too, to be honest. I know no one will replace the me-shaped hole in your pores, but I’m only human. I hope you haven’t found someone else, and I hope you’re stronger than I know and can wait until I’m back. Because I, for one, can’t wait to come back and whisk you away to somewhere by the sea, and maybe just gaze at your slender form and all the magic it holds.

I’ve been trying to meet people from all cultures here, and I’ve even made friends with a few. Yet, every time I pass by an Indian, we take a moment to look deep into each other’s eyes, and we know that nothing unites us quite like you. You’re in our “zehan”. That, and being cheap because our currency is doing so badly, defines who we are as a people outside the country’s borders.

I’ll say goodbye now, to run this desolate, unfair, and unhygienic race that is my life without you. Remember, you’re my one and only, and no amount of toilet paper holds a candle to what your perfectly pressurised flow does to me. Don’t tell my friends and family, but I haven’t even begun missing them yet.

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