“Mmeee…”, we would shout after opening the gate. If it was morning, she would come out smiling from the kitchen. If afternoon, you would first hear the shuffle of slippers, she would be getting up from her daily afternoon siesta, again with the very same smile on her face. And if late at night, there she would be sitting on the sofa, after her customary bath in the evening, with a liberal splash of Cuticura powder on her face and the smile would still be there.
The house was no more a home after she left us four years back. Visits went down drastically and almost came to a stop after the remaining lonely soul also moved out to be with the son. Home had always been a place where the doors were open with lots of laughter inside. And now, there I was, trying to pry open the rusted lock on the gate, looking around at the dried up plants, the cobwebs and dust on verandas. For the first time I had returned home to closed doors, with only memories for company.
That I would feel depressed and may even break down in bucket full of tears was a given even as this trip was planned. And I was totally prepared for excatly that as I opened the gates. But as I walked in and opened the door, a sense of calm seemed to envelope me. The rooms were covered in dust, there was work to be done, but all through this, a peaceful feeling permeated my whole being and it seemed to tell me, this is still your home.
The room on the western side, the’padinjaare muri’ , as it was called was a haven for us. My mother used to complain that her kids disappeared to this room as soon as they reached home. There was something about it that instantly gave you a warm feeling, that soothing feel that lulls you into a sleep that was calm and free from worries. Why was I even surprised that nothing had changed? The moment the house was spruced up and the girl who helped me had left, my body hit the floor and mind and soul eased into a much needed sleep. It was as if the walls made a soft cocoon for me and the cool breeze was singing a lullaby.
The next few days were no different. My sister reached that night with our fairly new sis-in-law. We had one of the best times in a long time. No men and kids, just us meeting up lots of old friends and family that we hadn’t met in years. Hearts truly grow fonder with years. Two meetings will be remembered fondly for a very long time. Incidentally, both were my brother’s friends, and we must have last met them more than twenty years ago. The sheer joy on ther faces, the non- stop, “I can’t beleive it”, and the wide grins as we talked about those fun filled, care free days, is going to stay with me for a long time.
We spent some relaxing time with some dear relatives just listening to old family yarns, some skeletons tumbling out inadvertently and some still kept very safely in family vaults. The end of those four days, there I was , tired to the core physically, but totally relaxed, happy and content in mind and soul. I had gone home expecting to come back sad and depressed, but the journey taught me a few things…….
……that yes, it is the people in a house that makes it a home. But a home is a home as long as you have happy memories associated with it
…..your dear ones take care of you in a deeper sense, irrespective of whether they are with you or not. I could feel my mother’s calmimg presence within those walls of brick and mortar. It was as if I could almost see her in her usual places throughout the house
…..distance actually makes hearts grow fonder
…..accidental meetings can sometimes give you more joy than planned ones
……old memories are as fascinating to the young ones as it is for the older generation. My young cousin was sitting open mouthed all through our reminiscences with regret writ largely over his face that his childhod was totally different
…..and most of all, the fact that we are actually much tougher than we think we are. Our yard was a virual riot of colours when mummy was alive. Now it is almost arid. But , there are still some toughies that survive on the love that was showered on them when they were growing up. Isn’t it so true for us as well? When things seem to go wrong, when a feeling of sadness tries to creep into us, don’t we always delve deep into the reserve of love and strenghth that was poured and sometimes stuffed into us? Like these lovely flowers that still spreads cheer as I opened the gate with trepidation in my heart..