What is Home?

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I have thus far failed to fathom the reason humans prevail in verbal violence. A spurt as such causes recollecting unpleasant memories, a series of nonconforming what-ifs and blame games topped with enraging outbursts. Dubious clarifications, immaterial explanations and involvement of peripheral audience surface to eke out a living. Factors that fetch nothing but irrelevance. Because the issue at hand is either bygone or has failed to exist in person. Perished to depart to the heavens.

Is this a home?

Individuals with deep-throated vocal cords acquire an upper hand in such disputes, for the brawl is oral. While remarks go unheeded in the heat of the moment, the limit does not exceed beyond oral declarations. Strenuous mentally, but in no way physical. The door to the adjacent room gets unlatched from the inside meekly. An eyeball peeks out trying to discern the crown of the mortal combat this time. No doubt, this isn’t their first time witnessing the issue. Or fights at home. Along with killing the partakers’ hours, laughter in the neighbourhood seems ill-timed. The tap water animating off the steel container from the squeaky hand pump is noisy. The door-to-door sales(wo)man bearing a basket of veggies strikes as someone belonging to a mind space from another planet. The bell of a cola-selling cyclist on a scorching afternoon is unwelcome. He is scurried away without as much as a second glance. In exchange of ice sticks that might have helped ease the otherwise parched throats. And moods. A neighbourhood is laid to rest in peace, however temporarily. Because the issue at hand demands the primmest attention.

Is this a home?

Their world around lies forgotten, including the people that are residing with them. For the layout is that of a joint family’s. Members’ emotional states are dissolved. As a result of arguments that lead nowhere, it does not matter if a mother feels piqued or a son has threatened to visit his relations never again. Mundane ventures as ensuing headaches or sitting for the afternoon meal become secondary. The pleasure of tuning out from a tiring cause and attuning to fighting for the television remote sounds alienating. That, or besieging an argument over why a particular movie is atrocious or admirable. All in the eagerness of making jarring verbal impressions upon one another.

Is this home?

Squabbles over the last ladle of rice or for that dribble of ghee glued to the container’s curvy corners are but little memories. Speaking to each other so much as once a year is for a reason. Get-togethers and gatherings even for festivities are now stories beginning with a narration of once-upon-a-time. Incidents of resettlements, shifting and shunting between towns and cities, having to settle under someone else’s roof because of the lack of having one’s own and being there for people are relics from an earlier era. Catch-ups even amidst siblings is taxing for there hangs in the air an uncomfortable silence. What was once a case-in-description of solid brotherhood is now an omitted chapter from the syllabus.

Maybe, this is a home?

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A king-sized bed that once squeezed six siblings to induce warmth that no comforter could provide lies today in a coating of dust. The sun penetrates its glow on that mattress the same way it did ten years ago. All that remains of the bedding is the dust that has gathered momentum off the sunburn, and slits where stitches and wad of cotton wool have given away.

Maybe, this is home?

A dwelling bearing secretive memories. Walls and pillars of which echo with countless souvenirs. And rooms bear testimonies to once-upon-a-time togetherness.

Sure. Home. At last.

(Photos: Students’ Biennale – Mattancherry, Kochi Muziris Biennale, Kochi, Kerala)
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