If someone were to ask me “Take me to your home!” I would invariably draw a blank. I am born in one city, grown up in another and then studied and worked in a third one. I never felt I belonged anywhere till almost my teens. The world is my oyster had become my life’s motto. Home was redefined for me when I had almost finished two and a half decades of my life. I went back to the place where my parents lived after almost 8 years of living in a different city due to my job. And what I saw changed the way I looked at life since then.
The city which was the perfect example of good old times for me, was now the epitome of change. It felt as if the whole country was changing and my city was the epicenter of that change. I had just stepped onto the railway station and I was taken aback by all that I saw. The platforms were neatly cemented now, neat and clean to an extent that at the right angle you could even see your reflection in it. The hustle bustle of people around did make it almost impossible though but the very joy of seeing something so radical was enough to sail through. As I passed through the city I saw the old times with new eyes. It all felt like a new world to me. Just like old times, I had to cross the Udayan Park to reach home. I requested the auto driver to halt there for few moments as I wanted to breathe in the memories this place held for me. This used to my favourite college hangout.
The cool breeze here had the answers to some of the worst problems of the world. And the traffic noise in the background was heavy enough to drown all the voices of fear rumbling inside your head. There were so many evenings I had spent here, crying my heart away at things which held no relevance today but seemed like the end of the world then. Poor marks, fight with a best friend, Mom not allowing me to attend a friend’s birthday party, first heart break, first taste of success and first thrill of having a dream which had rendered me sleepless for nights. It all felt so magical at that moment, no wonder this place still held some of that magic. I walk inside to see if my favourite tree is still alive.
Beneath its huge branches I had made a thousand stories, some which still breathe somewhere in my heart today. I had spent so many summer holidays lazing underneath this tree, reading one of my favourite authors and getting lost in their imaginary world along with them. Hidden amongst the gulmohar flowers just behind the hibiscus plant I finally find my tree. Yes it is there, all grown up… maybe a bit old but still standing strong as if trying to tell me that this is how life should be lived. Upfront and straightforward, let no storm bend you down. And then straight from there, the first right leads to the place called home. Built of bricks and mortar it smells of love and hope. It holds the dreams we all have breathed in for all these years along with those tiny angels called desires which we aspire for every moment.
|Picture (C) Privy Trifles|
Ah! How my heart longs to be there right away, but what do I see. The dingy lanes where I remember cycling with friends in the hot summer afternoons were now transformed to broad roads. Only a handful of the old time shops remained on the streets which were once our playground, as most of them were either shut down or had expanded their businesses and needed bigger spaces for it. When I was a kid, there used to be a small shop outside my school gate. The shopkeeper sold many different things ranging from stationary items, to toys to key chains and chocolates. For an 8 year old me, he was the peddler of dreams for he sold all that I dreamt of. A pink pencil which was as long as my hand, a doll that blinked her eyes, a chocolate in the shape of a red teddy bear, a keychain which could have my name engraved on it... the list was endless. I used to stare at that shop for long as I waited for my auto driver to pick me up from school.
Lost in my thoughts, counting my dreams that could come true in that shop I would gape at it in amazement wondering when will it all happen and when it will, what will I do. As I grew up I learnt dreams are never sold in shops, rather what is sold in these shops become dreams for us. My home seemed different for I had been away for too long now to feel at ease. My room, which was heaven for me suddenly seemed very distant at the moment.
The memories, the laughter and the joy all seemed to have wrapped along the old blankets and stacked safely in one of those wooden cupboards along with a handful of mothballs for company. I felt scared to venture out for it all seemed so new to me. Just to satisfy my craving to eat my favourite food I mustered the courage to visit Radhika Sweets Mart, a shop I adored for the delicious mouth-watering samosas they sold. I entered the shop hesitantly as my eyes tried to admire the changes it had gone through when the much known aroma of samosas being fried close by teased my senses. “Uncle 2 samosas please….” I said with all the enthusiasm in my voice.
“Arre…. Look who is here!” This voice took me by surprise. I didn’t know it was me being referred here. When I turned around I saw the owner of the shop Jayesh Uncle looking at me and smiling, just like old times. We exchanged pleasantries and spoke for some time before I finally asked him. “Uncle how did you recognise me? I have come here after almost 5 years now!”
“I recognised your smile beta…” That left me speechless. Amidst all the changes the town had undergone or will undergo in future, what had not changed was the warmth of people. For a moment I felt as if I was in an alien place but their warmth reminded me that the city roads were being broadened to spread more love and nothing else. And that is when I realized that home isn’t defined by a place, it is defined by people.