Of the almost three decades that have been my life, I have spent just over one at home. The rest have been spent in a confused mixture of boarding school, college hostels, rented flats and PG accommodations. I know, a lot of people will shake their heads mournfully learning this, and lament that this is exactly how children drift away from their family.
They could not be more wrong. I would not go as far as to say that staying at home makes for bad relations. However, so far as my relations with members of my family are concerned, I can tell you that the distance has drawn us closer, not pushed us further. Being away most of the time has ensured that home always remains a special place for me, a novelty, if you will. Look at it this way – if you are used to having a bland, institutional lunch everyday at the office cafeteria, you must relish the weekends, when you can have simple, clean home-cooked food with your family or take them out for a nice dinner. For me, home works the same way. It’s something that’s my own, not something I happened to have to go through.
This does not mean that I do not enjoy the life away from home, or that I have any regrets about any of the places I have had to stay in. No, quite to the contrary, I have immensely enjoyed each and every one of my dens. I spent seven years in the cheerful dorms of a boarding school, three years in a raucous hostel in the engineering college I dropped out of after three years, and about 4 years in an assorted mix of shared flats and rented rooms that I lived in while I was working in BPOs. I currently live in this B-School hostel which is home to people from more than 20 states of India. Each of these places have offered me different joys and sorrows, different people and cultures, and have taught me countless lessons in life. I love each and every one of them. And yet, they have never been home. Whenever I have joined any of these places, I have always known that they are going to temporary, even if temporary means seven years.
Home, on the other hand, has been permanent. It has been a place to go back to, and I think you will agree that that means a lot in our usual lives lived in insanity. It has been the place I have returned to get sober after extended periods of drunken pleasure, to get some needed warmth and love after periods of grief, to escape from the sleepless nights of a shattering heartbreak, or just to look at the smiling, forgiving faces of the people who have literally created me, or simply the unique sense of contentment that comes from going back to your roots.
I should mention that the pleasure has never been mine alone. The folks at home always cherish my homecomings almost more than I do. Like I said, the absence has drawn us closer. Since the days at home are always limited, all of us pitch in to make sure that those days are spent as happily as possible. My grandparents are still alive and kicking, and the way their faces light up as soon as I step on the lawn is really something that can lighten up my worst days at work. My family, I’m sure, has its share of bad days, misunderstandings and fights like any other. However, the days when I’m home, I see absolutely no evidence of any of that. Everybody, including and especially my German Shepherds, seem to be grinning and walking with a spring in their steps round the clock whenever I’m there.
I don’t consider myself a perfect son or grand-son, neither do I have any illusions of being a miracle worker whose mere presence can cheer up people. However, every time since the summer vacation in 1994 when I came home from my first boarding-school, I have noticed a very obvious..well, mood that is in the air round the clock. It has been, very simply, this: “Now that he’s here, the family is complete. ” Please believe me when I say it is almost a literal affectionate caress on my cheeks, or a reassuring hand on my shoulder.
Isn’t that something?
- Boarding School, Hamlet and Shower Curtains… (waverider12.wordpress.com)
- One time I thought I was going to die in a hostel (ichbinhamburger.wordpress.com)
- Boarding School Options in India (redriveracadem.wordpress.com)