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Posts Tagged ‘From the past life’

H.O.M.E

(Planning to migrate a few posts here, from my older blog(which i had to close down due to ‘edhir katchigalin thittamitta sadhi :P’). These are the ones I think are worth migrating, atleast so that I can read them whenever I want to without logging in, giving passwords, etc. This post was written exactly a year back. Happy anniversary HOME!! :))

A paint peeling, concrete arch proclaiming the name of the street. A narrow tar road dug up in a few dozen places. The tiny grocery shop at the corner. A primary school. Pullaiyar Kovil. Methodist Church. A few hundred houses. And another few hundred hearts. This is the constitution of the place that I’ve been calling ‘home’ for the past 10 years. Whenever I think home, it’s never a single building. It’s always a parcel of the street, friends, neighbours, roadside cricket, the huge neem tree next door and occasional squabbles. The picture is incomplete without all these.

When my parents decided to buy a plot and build a house where it is sitting pretty right now, they almost drowned in the discouragement that followed. The place is good for nothing. It is nothing but a breeding ground of pigs and stray dogs. It is thief infested. There are only two other houses in the entire locality. It is a low lying area and will not survive the first monsoon of the season. And the worst part was that each of this was true. Even my mom was half sceptical of the idea. She always wanted her dream house in a posh locality. Anna Nagar was top on her list, not some nameless hole in the by lanes, a region between the heart of the city and its suburbs. But dad was adamant. So in six months, the parents and 12 year old me shifted to our first own house, all eager and joyful. It was a modest one bedroom house. A very modest beginning. The house was ridiculously small when compared to the one ground of empty space that lay sprawling in front of it. But in less than a month again, the empty space had transformed into a lovely garden. Marigolds and Chrysanthemums framed either side of the pathway leading from the gate to the main door. Coconut trees were planted dotting the compound wall. The rest of the space was a mini farm growing ladies finger, brinjal, tomatoes, green peas, pumpkins, snake gourds and herbs. The garden became the pride of the neighbourhood (which consisted of five houses now), and they contributed seeds and saplings zealously. It was like living in a separate planet away from the pollution and noise of the city. The early morning Bharatnatyam practice surrounded by the scent of blooming jasmine flowers and roses, badminton sessions in our very own farm-cum-playground, hide and seek with the chameleons and frogs, all stamped in memory, fresh now as ever.

Slowly I graduated to high school and the street graduated to a few more houses and tar roads. Globalisation reached as far as our private planet and dad thought we needed a bigger home. The flowers vanished, vegetable patches were pulled out and we got a majestic gleaming new home in return. Now new houses mushroomed, one here and another there at a rapid rate and we suddenly had neighbours smiling at us through window sills and bringing home sweets for Diwali. There was Sundari aunty in the opposite flat who waited with piping hot coffee every evening when I came back from school. Now I didn’t have to stand waiting on the road till mom came home if I forgot to take the house key. I could take my pick from Teacher aunty’s rolls and buns or Shobha Akka’s idli vadas and keep munching to my heart’s content till mom was back. Street cricket with Sathish was a daily affair till his dad got transferred toBangalore. Even after moving to college and hostel subsequently, Friday evenings back home were never complete without snacks at Vaishu’s place. If animosity existed, it was fought out at Margazhi kolam competitions and diwali crackers. Pullaiyar and Jesus sat smug and contended, a stone’s throw away from each other. Even during the first few weeks in hostel, when I was home sick, I missed my neighbours as much as I missed my parents. Only then did I realise how the entire neighbourhood had become an integral part of what I called my ‘home’.

Things seem to have become a wee bit different these days though. All the kids have grown up. Some are doctors, some engineers and IT professionals, some settled abroad. The youngsters are too busy to notice neighbours and the grown ups are too old to socialise like before. Their occasional window sill conversations have shifted from sweet making and sarees to diabetes and arthritis. The warmth and love exists but it is more restrained and even a bit wary sometimes. The owners of a couple of high rising apartments that the street can boast of now, hardly ever open their doors or windows and sneak in and out of their own houses like burglars. I realise now that it has been more than six months since I dropped into any of my neighbour’s home for some hot coffee and hotter gossip. I make a mental note to do it this weekend. It takes a wedding, a birthday or an occasional power cut to bring everybody together and relive the old gold days again. People seem to be afraid that if they stop to talk to each other or care, life may whiz past by. I wish we could rewind back to the time when all that life meant was to stop, talk and care.

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