Right now, I live in this rented apartment I like to call home. Before this, I lived in a fancy flat just down the road, and before that I lived two blocks away and before that three blocks away. It’s been over two years, at this home of mine. I have another one in Calcutta, which is my parents’. So I’m mostly confused about which my real home is.
My room back in Calcutta has walls like a cloudless sky because Papa doesn’t like a mess on the walls. Only that they’re yellow. The walls in my Bangalore home are a mess. I like this mess. The windows here are not as large and don’t have a sit-out. The furniture is basic, inexpensive and not old-school. Papa has good taste in furniture. When that house was being made, Abu, our carpenter for over four decades, had got his boys to make every piece of furniture inside the house itself. Papa wanted it like that. Here the furniture is all second-hand, bought online after desperate negotiations.
The TV in my room has given me a back-ache. I like to lie down and watch it before I faintly doze off, and then it remains on all night, because it makes me feel safe. It was a birthday gift from Papa. Papa or Mumma don’t have back-aches. Their very large TV is in the living room, where they seldom fight with each other over what to watch. So one TV in the living room is enough.
Here in Bangalore, my neighbour from downstairs is a very smart nine-year-old boy and he seems to know everything about superheroes and plays with action figures all evening. They fight and fall and kill each other without even an “Ah”. The little boy has a pet rooster, which crows every other hour but at the expected dawn, and sometimes when I ask him what he’s up to, he tells me he’s playing with his cock and it makes me giggle endlessly like a silly schoolgirl. My neighbours back in Calcutta are all old and boring because all the twenty odd kids left to make something of their lives.
The living room and dining room tend to merge, unlike my home in Calcutta, because it’s a small house and I wouldn’t be able to afford anything bigger. On the floor are many books that haven’t been read yet and many others among my favourites. The walls look like they were splashed with sugarcane juice, because they indeed were, in an unfortunate incident. The tiny windows that swell up through the walls, the white door that makes a creaking sound every time it’s opened or closed, gifts and non-gifts hanging on the walls and yellow lights that don’t shine too bright make my house, home.
The space is rather less and things, too many. Precariously placed cosmetic jars and perfume bottles wobble like spaghetti when my next-door neighbour and his wife play loud dance music on Saturday evenings.
The cluttered pictures on my cupboard make me seem like a narcissist but they remind me of all the good times from before I moved to this city. In a corner of my messy wall, is what used to be a blank sheet, now covered with stuff written by people who matter.
Everything in this house is random, just like my thoughts. It’s seen a fair deal of my joy, pain, despair, and even love. We’ve kind of been there for each other, when nobody else has. When six unwelcome cats lived here for a month while I was gone, and ruined the place with their dirty doings, I cried and cleaned. When my head was an anxious mess for the jobs I lost and the boys I lamented over, the white curtains in my room fluttered in the summer wind and made me feel like a helium balloon, trying to anchor.
People come but always leave, and that’s how it should be. Some stay longer and some want to stay longer. Those who want to stay longer feel a way with my home, and it makes me jealous, so I make them go away. Some people should stay longer, but don’t.
At my parents’, it never gets lonely. There have been moments of happiness and hope, and sometimes not, but I’ve never had to fight my demons alone. Here, it’s just me and this concrete paradise. I had two cats, but what happened to them is a story for another time.
The metronomic swirling of the fan, the occasional birds that sing louder that the passing vehicles, though only on Sundays; the conflicting, sonorous music from my stereo — in all the polyphony I find myself angry and at peace in equal parts.
Sometimes I sit around thoughtlessly, every now and then I skylark and occasionally I like to indulge in a fair amount of woolgathering.
This house is far from perfect. But it is what it is. For the way it makes me feel and for what I’ve become.
More often than not, I don’t feel like getting out, which has made me an incredibly lazy person. On other occasions, the house makes me feel like nothing. Sometimes I hate it so much, it makes me want to run away. And then I run away and come back to loving it.