Monday, 1 December 2014

Leaving home.. And finding a new one!

Its not as if one is leaving a home for the first time. In a profession where our average tenure at a station rarely exceeds a year, my stay in Lucknow for the past 21 months (to be precise) has been one of the most challenging and yet a fulfilling one.And yet, even as we prepared to shift homes, much as I raved and ranted about the one BHK space of barely 700 square feet that we had lived in till now, my heart cried for this place  where we had welcomed little N into our lives, where she learnt to walk and smile at sun each day and where I made the transition into motherhood. And just like it is with me every time, on the last night in that teeny-weeny house, all I could think of was of the dozens of places I have called home for varying duration of time.

My first memory of being away from home is that of JNU. Back then in July, 2004, every time the 615 (bus) rolled onto the serpentine avenues of this sprawling Aravali campus, all I could sense (and now remember) was a place redolent with lush and rain-washed vegetation. It was indeed an oasis amidst the concrete chaos of Delhi and as the punchline of my Godavari hostel succinctly captured it, 'the river of life runs through it'. My first (co-)ownership of that small independent space filled us (me and Shw) with such immense delight- we spent hours doing small decor jobs like white-washing the room in a light lavender, covering the dull wardrobe doors with paisley patterned gift wraps and making neat tabletops with colored card-stock and plastic book wraps. 

Thereafter life took me to places and hostels and circuit houses over the next 5 years till for the first time I was allotted a house of my own in Agra in 2009. That house has a host of firsts to its credit as it slowly dawned on me what it takes to run a household and host guests. The loveliest part about it however, (apart from the lovely friends/neighbours Pre and Prat), was an old Peepal tree outside the house with a flowering climber winding around its trunk and branches. Of all the wonderful people who visited me in the city of Taj, my fondest memories are those of C's brief visit with Uncle from across the border. I really hope life affords me an opportunity again to host them and I can not help but imagine all the stories we could share of places and people over these intervening years. 


Living in A's family home in Noida in 2011 was a comfort of sorts but even before I could finish the decor, I recieved marching orders for Banda. As A joined me in UP in August 2011, the pain of leaving lovely homes was doubled, as we invested time and energy in setting up houses where each one of us would be posted. There are innumerable posts dedicated to our Bundelkand sojourn. Brief as our stints were in Unnao and Kannauj, the houses were still dear to us and we spent many afternoons deciding upon the color schema, matching upholstery and curtains and such other knick-knacks. 

Today its been a month (precisely) since we started living in our self-owned place. While A's exuberance in sprucing up this house is understandable indeed, for me the feeling is yet to sink in. Every time we moved to a house, and found some part in a state of disuse or neglect, my heart bled and I prayed if we ever owned a house, it should be a place where no one has lived before and I could build everything from a scratch. Am grateful to God for answering my prayers and so far each day that we have lived in this house, has been one of deep contentment and relief.

Every time we change places, I feel as if we are leaving a slice of our lives behind. Each place has such distinct memories, that play of sunlight on relaxed afternoons and that pitter-patter of raindrops on its myriad surfaces. In a moment of serendipity, I found this poem by an anonymous author on Pinterest, which seems to echo my thoughts word by word. Even though me and A own a house now, I am sure the demands of our profession will take us to newer places every now and then. Each space that we will inhabit, will carry a few molecules of our breath forever. To me, every place one visits and has lived in gives us stories to tell our children and grandchildren, but more importantly, in older years, these places will remind us of how things were when we were young!

this is for the people
who find it difficult to leave,
whether that is to leave
people or places.
this is for the people like me,
who build homes out of
everything we touch.
every inch of skin,
every page in a book,
every stranger's kiss.
this is for the people
who wear their hearts on their sleeves,
and on their lips,
for those who carry it in
the palms of their hands.
this is for the girl with
a hundred strings tied to her, 
tugging her in every direction
except forward.
this is for you.
this is for me.
we are nomads who find homes
that temporarily house our hearts.
we are travelers that 
never leave our home town.
this is for those who are
afraid to cut the strings,
for the people who are afraid to
leave the places our hearts have
grown so comfortably in.
cut the threads,
set yourself free.
we will find new places,
we will find new homes.


  1. Lovely write-up.....U can compile your memoirs and make a pitch for a Booker.....Till then, annual short-story contests are a sure-shot wins. Alok Srivastava (batchmate)

  2. Such a beautiful write up dear. You make me feel for each of your homes as though they were mine. Having been brought up like this all my life, I had decided that I shall never invest emotionally in my allotted accomodation. But it is so tough and I havent been able to disassociate myself as I wished to! Each home has a chapter of our lives written in it.. impossible to erase..

    1. Thanks A.. Its difficult not to love a place one lives in, else the place will never love us back.. I miss each of these places and hundreds more we called home for a day or a night.. Guess its our 'roosting instinct'.. Hope to hear some such stories from you soon..

  3. Thank you for putting these thoughts into concrete form for people like us to read and relate to. Having grown up in a services family, I too can relate to your experiences. Wish you all the best. Regards, J.D.