I remember going to each room, gathering my memories. I lingered at the sink in the kitchen, where I spent numerous years washing my tear-stained face. I crept under the dining table where I had once hidden under, in defiance. I perched myself on the window sill where I had spent numerous afternoons, book in hand.
I remember getting agitated when the contents of my toy cupboard wouldn’t fit into a carton despite numerous attempts. I remember my suppressed sniffles when I had to empty out the bookshelves. I remember the loud outburst when the mother handed me a carton in place of a basket for the varied lotions and potions on my dressing table. That seemed like the final straw of betrayal.
I remember being hassled because we had run out of scotch tape; because the mother wasn’t able to locate the agarbatti stand in my handbag; because I missed my favorite painting.
From a Black Friday in March 1993 to the festival of colors in 2011, that place had been my parent’s labor of love. Tears, joy and heartache, it had contained them all. But we’ve moved on since then. As individuals, as a unit.
We’ve let go of some old rituals and traditions, after much deliberation and angst, and embraced some new ones in turn. Occasionally, the mind and heart will tussle over the idea of home. But the heart is usually told to shut up.
Ganesh Chaturthi was muted, with no loud, colorful processions to line the road. Diwali was a lot more colorful with the hunt for diyas and lanterns.
I’m still getting used to some of the logistics. The windows or the view outside don’t seem as familiar or comforting, the odd creak continues to freak me out and I’m yet to master which switch operates what. The bookcase still feels alien and the paintings, a wee bit distant. But the soft board in my room finally bears some of my imprints, with a few stray posters and notes. Could do with some more color and character though.
But what’s really changed is how we’ve bonded as a family. The dining table is now the centerpiece of our conversations. The father is usually browsing on his laptop while the mother is giving the final touches to the evening meal in the kitchen and I’m pottering about from place to another. Laying the table, keeping things in place or just lounging around. That is the one defining memory of the last one year. That and perhaps, sitting in the living room with the television. The tele is on, but we are also chatting and exchanging notes. There is banter, laughter and much joy.
We’ve picked out our favorite spots in the house. Spaces have been demarcated and rechristened. There is some minor ambiguity over others. Maybe, this has finally become home.