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Sunday, 13 October 2013


Home. A four-letter word that means so much. A place to rest, a place of comfort, a place your mind knows, recognizes. You weave memories into the bricks and furniture that house your home. It's a place that offers security. You know what to expect when you walk in the door.

My childhood was a nomadic one, moving from place to place, changing countries, continents, schools, houses and friends. The first day of school in each new place was always scary. I never knew what to expect but us, humans are creatures of habit and change can become a habit too.

I married a man who does not like change. Having chosen Toronto, Canada as his place to be, he refused to budge. Initially, I was irritated by his lack of adventure but now after nearly seventeen years of living in this city; I am glad. I am glad because his obstinacy gave me a feeling of home, I had never known before. I have come to appreciate the permanence that is his gift to my kids and me. I know this city. I know it's streets, it's shops, it's customs. When I walk down the street, I invariably run into someone I know. I am on a first name basis with the people at all the local stores. I know the staff at my kids' school. This is my street, my neighbourhood, my community. This is my home and my children's home. Both my kids walk to school and back. I don't worry about their safety because there is no need.

"It's the heavenly, joyful spring and summer that lull you, Seema told me once- explaining herself, her immigrant life- that keep you here until you are suddenly trapped by the winter months and anxiously await the next spring and summer- which have never failed so far, let me tell you; and so the years pass and before you know it you've lived here decades and unwillingly, unwittingly belong."

"The In-Between World of Vikram Lall" by M.G. Vassanji

I know, I am lucky I married a stubborn man. I know not everyone has this feeling of home. For me, for the longest time, home was me. I was my home.

Sounds strange, doesn't it? But when you move around a lot, you devise ways of coping. My way, was to live within me. Perhaps because of it, even now I find change easy. I don't miss people much either. I am happy when I am with someone but just as happy when there are not around. Heartless, perhaps! But life should be about enjoying the moment, rather than crying about what you don't have.

I started this out, as an answer to a friend whose life is still about constant move. I wanted to tell her that her kids will learn what I did. They will learn to weather change. They will learn flexibility and they will learn us, humans, are the same no matter where we live. Living in different places will open their eyes to how alike we all really are.

The will also learn home. It might not be that permanent neighbourhood, she would have liked for them but it will be home; their home tailored to their individual personalities. It might be family to one of them; or he, himself, to the other but what ever their idea of home is, it will answer their personal need.

"I carry the world within me. You see, Salim, in this world beggars are the only people who can be choosers. Everyone else has his side chosen for him. I can choose."

"A Bend in the River" by V.S. Naipaul

Ultimately, home is whatever you want it to be. It may be the house you've lived in for so long that you've even forgotten how long, or it may be the knapsack on your back, or it may be the love and company of the people dearest to you, or it may be all of those, or none of these things but something else altogether but whatever it is, the word's significance is in the meaning you give to it. 

"Home was not necessarily where you were born, or even where you grew up, but something else entirely, something fragile that could exist anywhere in the world."

"Map of the Invisible World" by Tash Aw

1 comment:

  1. I move around a lot. I love it, but everywhere I go is a home. So I can have a home anywhere in the world as long as I have memories there. But I can't stay in one place, I get bored to easily. I don't like constant routine, I can't have the same schedule of life for more than a year! Home for me is my memories and where they are.