I was a chubby one year old when I got here. To this day, I tell everyone my house’s as old as me. I have been blessed with a not so good memory, but if I dig deep down… I can still see Mom and Dad sitting for the Griha Pravesh puja. I remember sleeping in their room and getting scared at night, that the Onida ghost will come out from under the bed. I grew up a bit and learnt he was just a silly actor. I had my own room by then, which I shared with my brother. Mom had made this seating arrangement near the window where we could sit and read. Then there were the pyjama parties, though we probably wore shorts (or knickers like we referred them), a group of brothers and me, how I learned to cry to get my way every time, how we made tents out of bed sheets and created our own mansion in the room, how we played dark room and cards (religiously), and decorated our very own Christmas trees every year and had a feast. As we grew up we moved on to more mature games, like Scrabble, Life, Scotland Yard, etc. Games changed and moods changed but the room remained the same. My brother and I soon had our own rooms when we got too snobbish to live with each other.
When all the kids got together, the room got too tiny to sleep in together… So we put mattresses in the living room or on the terrace every night. I used to love sleeping under the dark sky in the summers, though there were times I was petrified that a screeching bat would come and bite off my nose (Don’t ask me who fed me that horror tale!). The terrace was again my favourite when it rained. It was wide enough to run, skid, slip, slide and do just about everything.
My room and the terrace were the two most favourite places for me in the house. After them came my parents room, the bed was always cool enough, the pillows were always soft enough to get the most sound sleep.
Then came the garden, my parents have both been blessed with ‘green fingers’, though I do not particularly enjoy getting my hands messy in the wet mud, I felt proud of the way the garden looked. Come springtime, it used to be vibrant with colours, think of a colour and it would be there! Pink, Orange, White, Yellow, Blue, Purple, Brown, Green, and colours which I don’t even have a name for. My mom loved the garden, would toil hard to keep it pretty. Be it winters or summers, she made sure her plants were taken care of properly and Dad would love clicking pictures of the countless flowers that bloomed every spring season.
The time when I really loved the house the most was at Diwali. When I became big enough to handle a candle on my own, it was my sole responsibility to light the Diyas around the house. So come Diwali day, I would set to work when it would still be bright outside. It took me two-three hours to place the Diyas covering the entire façade of the house. Once I was done, I would call Dad to come out and click pictures and out he would come with his camera and tripod. I would ask him to click several photos from a same place, in case some got messed up. For this sole reason Diwali was, is and always will be my favourite season and for this sole reason, I wish to have a house of my own someday that has a big façade along with a garden.
When college started, I left the house, left the hometown. I never knew how the home-stay would be temporary from then on. But with college and its 101 adventures, I never really missed home much. Except when I starved for good homemade food! College soon got over and I ended up moving further away. That’s when I started missing home and every nook and corner of it. And I still do.
Today, the house is no more a home for me, the garden is bare, the plants and pots are gone, and everything inside the house from old bundled up books to weathered boots, everything which made the house a home is not there.
After 25 years, Mom and Dad sold it for a bigger, better and quieter place. I could not come when Mom and Dad packed all our stuff and moved it out. I wasn’t there when the neighbourhood aunty came to meet Mom feeling sad that we won’t live there anymore. I wasn’t there to say goodbye to my room, my terrace and my neighbours. I wasn’t there to see the rooms bare, to see the kitchen bare, to see the façade bare. And I feel glad.
The image I have of that house in my mind is a home with a beautiful garden, with a comfortable living room with old wooden chairs, with my room the way I left it, with the kitchen smelling of Mom’s cooking. And this image will stay with me forever.
This post is my way of saying goodbye to house number 380. To look back on all the wonderful times, the not so wonderful times, the fights with my brother, the festivals, the ‘knicker-parties’, the arguments, the dressing up sessions with Mom, the all nighters with friends, the childhood games, the birthday parties, the school days, the summer vacations and thank Mom and Dad for making it the best home I could imagine.