I don't know if anyone uses this term for their loved ones (is this one still around?) any more. But in the past month or so, I've got acquainted with, met or spoken to more people than I come in touch with in an average month in Mumbai. The number, by the way, isn't much in either case.
Living away from family and friends whom you've grown up with gives a detached perspective to relationships in general. The emotional need of connecting and sharing is overridden by the needs of here and now. In short, you learn to fend for yourself; you learn not to feel lonely; you learn not to have expectations of people. So far, so good, but then, all that has to be unlearnt every time the near and dear ones come visiting or you go to your 'native place'. That's the unending dilemma.
Being pulled in different directions undermines the belief that you are in control. Seeing others make demands of your thoughts, opinions and emotions makes you wonder, and in my case, it also makes me feel out of my depth. Visits to the 'native place' are uncomfortable in one aspect--you're back where you started from, but though you've grown beyond it, the starting point hasn't changed that much. Thinking about going home makes me full of nostalgia and happy memories and the joy of seeing everyone again, but once I get there, I'm in the middle of a tug of war. A part of me has grown up and away from it all, and another part is deeply entrenched in that house, those people, the very air of the city, so that even without realizing, I start living through an old mask. I find myself shaking out of it with a supreme effort, trying to reconcile these two parts of me. By the time I achieve that, I'm back in Mumbai, and the tug of war starts again.