We put the house that our parents had lived in for long up for sale on a property dealing website. People called and dispassionately I described the house, its surroundings and its present condition. Not once while talking did I refer to it as home!
My parents passed a few years ago. Till my father was alive that house was home in the way only a parental home can be. I would go there and rummage through stuff, dump things I did not need without a thought or care. I still recall emptying the stuff after he died, suddenly it had all become meaningless.
Home – at one level it is simply an address, at another it is a complex feeling that has many manifestations.
When I land at an airport anywhere in India from a travel abroad, as familiar languages, diction, dress and smells swirl around and envelop, I know that I am back home.
If I have landed at Delhi and drive out of the airport, and the familiar buildings, road names and places leap into view, suddenly the fatigue of travel catches up at breakneck speed. I am home and can let go! I love traveling – going to different places, but the singular joy of being home is unparalleled.
When I think about home different aspects come up. Home is my side of the bed. It is my desktop sitting elegantly in the corner of the room, it is also the traffic noise that permeates the walls incessantly. Home encompasses the smell of food cooking and the steaming mug of tea which brightens up my mornings. Home is all the things I do, all the people who coexist with me in that space, and all the chaos that I keep trying to bring to order.
Stepping out of physical spaces, the sense of home also envelops when one meets an old and familiar group of friends. The comfort of longstanding interactions and the warmth they generate is akin to homecoming. Just remember the feeling when after a long time one clasps the hand of an old friend or receives an affectionate hug!
The sense of well-being that envelopes when encircled in the arms of someone you love is also a beautiful homecoming. Does it emanate from the feel and smell of the person or from the emotions one has? Is it familiarity that gives the sense of home? However, sometimes a first embrace can be home, while sometimes even the hundredth one might not give that feeling!
Home – the more I think, it seems to be a phenomenon. Originating deep from within, spreading in widening concentric circles, it keeps expanding its scope.
My young daughter has recently picked up a job in Mumbai. Now for her, increasingly the parental home has become like what it was for me – a refuge, a storehouse, a place to scavenge and put up my feet. Home is her small set up in the new city – challenging, a responsibility and yet home!
The concept of home changes – whether in the physical or in the metaphorical sense. Throughout our lives we bond with varying places, feelings and people that embody the sense of home
So what is this place we call home – is it the building or physical space or is it a feeling that permeates and reflects an eternal quest? There seems to be no definitive answer. Desire to reach home is deep within all of us. Maybe it is an instinct we developed from our nomadic days, and so although the definition of home may change, we still aspire for homecoming in every sense.