My mother often reminisces about how she had been born, brought up and married off from the same house—–a mansion built by my grandfather before my mom was born. I often wondered why she talked about her home so much. I mean it is just another inanimate object, isn’t it? It was built and furnished by human beings to provide shelter and security to its users and to be disposed off when it had grown old so as to build a newer one in its place. It seemed pointless to me when she talked about how warm her home was, compared to our current concrete-clad jungle in this city and how welcoming it has always been for her. Although I did not possess the guts to tell this over her mouth, such emotions felt useless to me when there were more important things in this world to think about.
My parents never owned their own home in Dhaka. As a result my childhood was spent in different homes in different regions of the city. I was born in Feni, a tiny town of South-eastern Bangladesh, which also happens to be my home district in my maternal grandparents’ house (My maternal grandfather was a doctor so my parents could afford that privilege) and then raised up in new Dhaka. And since my parents did not own a home in the capital city, it always involved a lot of moving. Due to this I have never been able to attach my memories to one place only. In fact I never really cared about my home because I had moved so much throughout the 19 years of my life that I had not been able to form any particular bonds with one place.
However this month when I moved for the umpteenth time, strangely I had this feeling of nostalgia and yearning for the flat I had called home for the past six years. I did not know what it was and why it was but something was beckoning me towards the home in which I have had the most important six years of my short life. Six years! Quite a long time; particularly because I have not spent so long in any place throughout my entire life. And when I looked back at all those years of laughter, joy and discontent over the size of the flat, I realized that man can form relationships with non-living things even without his knowledge. I had actually detested that house at first due to its small size but after having adapted to it and adjusting to its ways I was something along the lines of okay. It was going all smooth and well when all of a sudden the landlord decided that he could earn more money by renting the flat out to an office for which we were given the notice to be off for good. I do not know whether you will term this as cruelty or not but it was nothing really. For people like us who own no home of their own greed from the landlords is not an uncommon thing to be subjected to. And my parents and I did not complain either because we had lived in one place for too long and a change maybe was for the better.
And thus the preparations began. My parents rented into a new house with bigger rooms and started all the packaging and moving. I joined them as well and assisted them as much as I could but was restrained from all the excitement by my exams. Little did I know that I was going to feel disheartened afterwards because of an unknown, undefinable thing which I cannot attribute to anything at all.
On the final day when everything had been moved out and there was not much left to be taken I took on my personal belongings and got dressed. I looked at the ancient window and stared out at the dark night looming ahead. I recalled thousands of memories—-memories which will overflow even Dumbledore‘s Pensieve —-about winter nights I had spent dreaming about life while staring out through those windows and rainy nights that had unsuccessfully tried to elicit the poet inside me. I reminisced the story that my life has written with this cozy little flat and wondered whether I will ever be able to go through them again. It was as if I was losing a very dear friend.
I know I am sounding quite mawkish and trying to serenade feelings I can never explain properly but it felt truly unlike I had ever predicted or thought it would. My life probably is not attached to any particular home but maybe the home has a special place in my life’s story. If I start writing my autobiography tonight maybe it will hold a very prominent position.
I took one last look at my room. I gaped at the ceiling and the rectangular edges and tried to take my memories with me, but alas! Memories are weird. You can’t snatch them out of their rightful place.
I locked off the door and took the very last look at the building before giving the keys to the caretaker. In the end I believe life goes on and you have to travel with it. You can’t go back or forth in time, in spite of what physicists say. You have only way and that is the way forward. There are new neighborhoods waiting to be explored, new traditions to be merged into my life and new adventures awaiting me. In the end I guess I will have to let everything go and adjust myself to my new life.
“And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?
Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master?”