A month or two back I stumbled upon a word called Hiraeth- homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past. I always believe there are perfect words, which have a complete meaning and tragic beauty. Hiraeth is one of those perfect words. Once you hear them, you fall in love with them.
Hiraeth is a word you feel after reading a Kundera novel. It is a expression you pin when you walk the valleys of Kashmir. That world built on words has no existence in reality, that land you walked on was never yours to step on. It’s a spell you are bound to, but the spell has no source.
Few days back I finally finished Anjum Hasan’s debut novel, Lunatic in my Head. Here are characters who will always remain outsider to their home because of their language, race and religion. The Shillong; Anjum Hasan presents is the land which could never be the characters'. They are in constant state of Hiraeth, they need a place to belong, an anchor to hold them down. None can assure them that happy state of comfort.
The hills have a strange love hate relation with its people, Ruskin Bond’s characters want to fly away from the hills, but they keep returning back, hurting the loved once and hurting themselves. Sometimes home is in a person, but that home is broken, distorted in reality, yet we want to unburden and lie in it. But that home will never accept us. The valleys are same, they are close knit, once you are unwebbed from the community, you can never ever be its part again.
I keep saying to my friends, once you leave your nest, you leave it forever. No matter how many times you go back, you are never there. Homecoming is a beautiful word too, still not perfect. In eight days I will go back to home for vacation. Home has morphed into a space where I have my friends waiting, my pets playing, my mom’s wild kitchen garden and the half empty roads with green glade. I always see my friends write how they miss home, and keep uploading the things they miss about their happy zone, I admire them for being so rooted. Many ask me, do I miss home? No, I don’t miss it. I have been unwebbed so many times, that my home remains in a person not in the concrete walls.
I love everything ‘home’ offers, the warmth, the coziness, the food and most importantly the love. Yet to me home is a suffocating word. It’s the place of your birth yet it’s the vile umbilical pull of it, which will kill us. Home is secured and enemy of motion. Though like the characters of Kundera’s novel, I see home as a place that is better suited in my imagination.
Over the years due to my father’s job, I had to move from one house to another. The house I spent my naughty and sickly infancy in is lost in whitewash. The house in which I had my own huge playhouse of upturn broken tin drums and green plywood, is gone, the house that gave birth to the lunatic in my head is being gobbled up by the green fire. The Jeep which taught me basic anatomy of a car and was my afternoon refuge belongs to someone else now. The present house, that should be my true home, where stays my collection of books and wall doodles, is not the place I love. To me it has never been a home. It will always remain a house my father built with his hard earned money. It is a place which was abandoned by my cats, it is none's home but a temporary escape. Yet its still the house which my father wants to pass as legacy, though it has no history of belonging only a graveyard of flowers, blooming behind with spirits of unknown cats and one white dog playing at night.
P.S- Not all who live thrive for an anchor.
thanking you to bear with me