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Ma’ as Salameh (Farewell), until we meet again

By Nickunj Malik - Jul 05,2017 - Last updated at Jul 05,2017

One month short of seven years, I am once again doing what I have done eight times already. Let me give you a few clues: it involves sorting, clearing, polishing, painting, crating, packing, labelling and so on. The unused paraphernalia gets discarded while the useful belongings get bundled, in layers upon layers of bubble-wrap and subsequently everything goes inside large cardboard boxes, which are carted, via a lorry, into a gigantic container that then sails towards our new destination.

In fact, it is a little bit like the ancient Egyptian funerary practices of the Pharaohs, where all the worldly treasures and personal possessions were stocked in their tombs long before their death, for their journey to the afterlife. This is a macabre kind of comparison because I have no immediate plans of leaving planet Earth, but latest research suggests that after losing a loved one to death, the most stressful thing a person experiences is moving house.

Symptoms of stress associated with changes in environment are so exclusive that in 1992 the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association  added Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) as an official diagnosis. The indicators of RSS consist of loneliness, depression, apprehension, anxiety, anger, and in older adults, increased confusion. The greatest incidences of RSS occur just before and during a three-month period following relocation.

Right! So, if I put my mind to it and do my calculations correctly, I have unknowingly suffered from RSS for twenty-four months already, which totals to two whole years! Wow! And this does not even include the RSS of my current ninth move that is going on, even as we speak. I simply love these random researches I tell you because I can conveniently justify some of my mood swings on its official findings.

So, where am I going, why am I going, how am I going, when am I going? Before I answer all these queries, let me first express how much I will miss Jordan, which has been my country of residence for the last several years. In my entire adult life, as the spouse of an international banker, I have never lived in a place that has been more welcoming, kind, generous and beautiful than the Hashemite Kingdom. The inherent decency of the people here, their charitable nature, their extreme friendliness and large hearts, makes me want to keep up the charade of being mistaken for a Jordanian. Also, I cannot bear to see the disappointment that is evident when they realise I am not one of them. This is, of course, quickly replaced by happy smiles when I reveal the name of my motherland. Why they love India I cannot explain but they do love “Al Hind” that much is obvious. 

The hairdresser, the drycleaner, the fruit vendor, the vegetable seller, the photo studio owner, the bookseller and the managers of the two cafes that I frequent- one in Abdoun and the other at the Taj Mall rooftop, have become my friends. I know them by their first names and they all call me Mallika, which is a complete distortion of my surname, but after correcting them endlessly, I have given up. 

“You are leaving us Mallika?” asked Nzer my hair stylist.

“My name is not that!” I tried the correction one last time.

“You are not going Mallika?” he brightened up.

“Naam. Maa Salameh” I replied in Arabic.


“Goodbye, go in peace, Go in God’s protection, until next time Mallika,” he gushed.

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The pain of separation is evident Nickunj however hard you try to hide it. It always happens when you are staying somewhere for several years. I was reminded of my separation from Dhanbad after I got married. Hard to get over it. And in your case it was a lovely and warm relationship that had bound you to Jordan. So the pain is inevitable. But then a new place with a new set of people is always exciting to look forward to. Therefore carry on packing your bags.

I am sorry to hear you are leaving Jordan, Nickunj. Yes, it is a wonderful friendly warm country. It feels a little weird, because after visiting you, I could put you in a place in my mind, and now we are back to square one. Is Abdoun the cafe you took me to?

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