Hit the road

Packing a house is not a big deal. But packing up a home, your first home, is quite draining. I’ve always joked about how my parents take their centuries old Arab ancestry a tad too seriously since we were constantly on the road, moving from house to house, city to city, country to country, continent to continent like nomads.

As a result I don’t have a shoebox of memorabilia nor do I have one particular building associated with one’s memories of growing up. Instead I have a mosaic of memories, scattered across different houses, none of which I can emotionally describe in a wistful, nostalgic- filled tone as the one “home that I grew up in”. If anything, they were all pit stops or, in one specific case, a constant that we always returned to.

And now here I sit, amongst my suitcases, packing up what I can finally describe as my “home”. Three years ago I landed in the middle of a desert armed with nothing more than faded memories of what it felt like living in such an alien land.

Upon entering the apartment that my husband had rented out, I walked in expecting to be showered bon confetti, a huge “welcome home honey” banner shimmering above a decadent chocolate cake. Instead I got flickering lights, a wonky fridge, insect infected furniture and a pile of pizza boxes.

Welcome to your new home –  in the Twoilet (twilight) zone.

“This can‘t be my home,” I thought. “I deserve better, I want better, I want my mum, I’m going to call my father right now and go back…”

Looking out a dusty window the futility of running back to my parents’ hit and I decided that I was going to have a proper place to live, and it was going to be MY home! It was not going to be a pit stop nor would it be something bearable until we finally returned to civilisation. I was an adult and married and about frickin time I got a proper place to LIVE IN!

Slowly weekends were consumed with hectic shopping trips to good ol’ Ikea. Decisions were debated on the kind of look we wanted, prices caused dents in the bank balance and quite a few arguments and of course, emotional blackmailing to the point where the lines between jokes and taunts became blurred. We even drove on the highway with our sofa on the roof of our car tied by two flimsy ropes.

But we got there. We set up a beautiful home, complete with the smell of home cooked saalan seeping through the furnishings ensuring that anyone could tell that a pair of desis occupied this particular apartment.

When our son came along, there came another shopping frenzy. The nursery had to be set up. A hundred cots were tried and tested. The walls had to be painted the right shade of blue. The wall stickers had to be of a particular kind so as to engage the baby in some form of intelligent manner.

Just wait till I grow up – old homes for the pair of you.

And then we got the news: it was over. The husband was being transferred to another country and we had to pack up. PACK UP? But we had just started to build a home! Instead it turned out to be just “another apartment”. One more area that housed me, another piece in the mosaic.

So now I sit here, trying to sell off furniture while sitting amongst organised piles of belongings. I’m glad to be returning to some form a normal life since I ain’t exactly cut out for desert life. Over the years I’ve seen buildings grow out of the sandpit that surrounded our building, made friends with the hidden arab female neighbours and most importantly, learned how to cook.

It’s a bittersweet feeling, this “home” business. But it’s a good one and until I set up the next one, I’m going back to my roots – I’m hitting the road again.

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Categories: The World I Know

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.

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