Home, hearth, refuge, a place where one lives – any synonym or definition for home is so woefully inadequate. It’s so much more than a dwelling. It’s a place or space where we can let our hair down and be ourselves. We can take off our masks or makeup and smart clothes and wear our comfortable look for no one will judge us here. People who share our homes are the ones who love us for who we are. Home is a place we come back to, to rest our tired souls. Home gives us solace no matter how tough the day may have been.
Over the years we build many homes. Our childhood homes where we take our first steps and speak the first words. Where we play and learn, we are loved and nurtured so we can face the big world. The home of my childhood in Agartala with rooms spread on a huge courtyard where I would run around. The heavy monsoon rain would sometimes flood the courtyards and I would be hopping from one room to another perched on the back of my father or uncle.
The childhood home full of innocence and laughter, that indulges us and gives in to our whims. The home that we are eager to leave once we grow up and spread our wings in the wide horizon that beckons us.
As we fly off, sometimes unwittingly, we make new homes. The hostel room in Hyderabad that I shared for two years with a batch mate became my home. I miss that narrow bed sometimes, the table with two chairs and a window with a view of the rocky campus. The black and white poster on the wall where a young chopper pilot presents a bouquet to his girl reading ‘Love is in the air’. Only the bouquet was pink in that poster creating quite an effect. It was a gift from my new friends in the Univ. The carefree, dreamy hostel home that I sometimes miss.
And then came the real world with a real job in a big city. The thrill and the struggle of finding a home on a limited budget in Delhi. It was a PG accommodation first. I had a room to myself which in no time became my home. The PG shut down one day and I had to start hunting for an apartment. The one room apartment in Saket became my first real home. Though it was small it had enough room for me and my friends visiting me occasionally. I bought curtains for the windows and a small carpet. I spread mattress on floor for a bed and spread cushions all over. It was my cozy little home.
Later when my sister joined me, I moved to a bigger apartment. I shifted from one rented apartment to another, each one becoming my home for a couple of years. Each one I would do up beautifully and make my own. Though they were rented places, they were all my home. I think of them sometime, I miss them or the markets nearby. When I drive by those areas, I look for my erstwhile homes.
Finally, I bought a home and carefully made it my own. Grateful that I wouldn’t have to move every other year, I meticulously picked every piece of furniture and other stuff for each room. I potted plants in my balcony garden. I brought my old books from Agartala and other little things that I always cherished. I wanted my home to be a reflection of me, my childhood dreams and my aspirations for the future, my contentment and my desires, as I struggle between letting go and holding on.
Through the last six years I have nurtured my home as it has refreshed me and rested my soul. In the difficult years of the lockdown my home embraced me. It gave me the strength to go on. Amidst all the uncertainties my home stood rooted and strong.
Even in the comfort of my new home, my childhood home often beckons me. The images of Agartala and my home flash before my eyes. Agartala has changed, my home has changed. The courtyard has shrunk and a concrete building now houses the ones I love and all my childhood memories. But it’s still my childhood home that’s dearer than any other home. A home that will also treasure me and rest my tired feet no matter how far I wander!