When you are away from home, there is this unshakable feeling of being exiled. Everything feels makeshift, temporary, like an adjustment until something permanent takes its place.
I’ve been living in a flat for the past year (The one year anniversary passed by, unnoticed, as all dates tend to do in a mind that just can’t hold on to numbers). In many ways, it feels like home. I love drinking tea on the terrace steps every evening, when a slight wind blows faithfully, never failing to bring all my hair to my face. Sometimes, we go up to our terrace much after midnight, and have our deepest conversations. I feel relieved when I return from somewhere, and it feels like I am coming back “home”.
But this is temporary. The clothes hanger that dangles from a wall, collapsing from holding too much weight, the paint that scrapes from the ceiling every time it rains, the windows that don’t shut properly, the stove which stands on three legs – these don’t faze me.I am convinced this is temporary. This home is mine, for now. Next year, there will be another name on that lease.
I think of words a lot. Sunset, chocolate, love, pain, biriyani, loneliness, trees, stars – these are some of my favourites. Then I develop images around them, and watch them all pass me by, as I sit still, like a passenger in a train.. .
With the word ‘home’, the breeze immediately begins blowing. Sometimes there is a slight drizzle, sometimes not. Everything is a lush green. The guava and sapota trees are there, though they’ve been cut years ago. The neem is taller, though still slender. And the water… I can’t see the river bed, there are no plastic bags. It’s a rush of waves. I can hear wind-chimes in the distance. Then Amma places her plump, soft hands on me. As usual, they feel heavy and light at the same time. I sink into her touch. Appa is there. His smile shows teeth just like mine. I smile back, and his eyes shine. The scene seems to last forever, like a badly directed Hindi movie. Except, even in my fantasy, the wind gets hair in my eyes.
This is my picture of home. My sisters aren’t there. Maybe it’s because now they’re exiled too, just like me.