Remembering my Grandfather

I reach his belongings with trembling hands, constantly under the burden of realization that I might not like it if someone tries intruding into my world of belongings only a few months after my disappearance from the physical world.

There is a relatable fear, a shared feeling of discontent; but there is this contentment surviving its paradox existence, deep in the hollows of my heart I find peace. I reason my heart that it is only to preserve that I am reaching his belongings, that some years down the lane someone out there might also want to preserve what I’ll be leaving behind.16295768_1859663257645612_375165787_n

I have multiple emotions at work in my body, I feel dejected as I reach his storage box for how his belongings lay there so naked and at loss of any meanings; and I open it. I detect all the objects one by one, in my futile try to attach any meaning that he left behind in the world for us to grab.

Few of his army souvenirs tucked in one corner of the box, all the invitation letters from his regiment and letters from his colleague and I transcend into afternoons of childhood summer when he would gather us all around and narrate stories of his adventures in the army, his eyes speaking for the pride he felt in his service, his language containing barely any hint of pride.

The memory now takes me back to summer evenings in my village house as a long row of chorpoyes was set in the center of a courtyard lined by verandas all around. Soon after Maghrib prayers he would enter the house, always at a fixed time and his radio in hand. He would set it up on the side table, tune into a news channel and rest his head on his hands.16395797_1859663244312280_1697586279_n

The echoes of news on the radio still play in my head, my first ever memory of listening to anyone reading out for us in a very serious and somber way and in those fifteen minutes, everything else in the surroundings stopped as if respecting the sobriety of the situation.

Those fifteen minutes later became a part of me and took a broader span in my life years. I stood there to look at the Rome of his belongings that he built over years and from the corner of my watery eyes I can see that the ink is spelled.

 

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A Kind Of Home.

(my collaboration with Lavanya Arora from India)

Why does home have to be a place (or several), or even “that feeling”, or a person (or several)? Why does home have to be anything? For most of my adult life, I haven’t felt any sense of belongingness, so I have tried to search for it everywhere. On this journey, I have mostly felt alone and dejected as  if there’s no one who can understand me, yet I know I belong to this niche of people who think they belong nowhere. The kind of people Murakami writes about in his novels.

When I look at my school friends who haven’t managed to get out of our hometown, I see a common thread connecting all of them: lack of growth. Maybe they have grown on their own terms, but what is growth if it doesn’t make you appreciate something other than what it inherently yours or related to your culture or that you have been conditioned to love or appreciate? Casual sexism, racism, being jealous of people who can speak proper English and make fun of them, topped with a spoonful of hypocrisy; cooked in a pressure cooker of intolerance, masked as being polite, being curt, being well-mannered, being the personification of a privileged upbringing. All of this chokes me.

Every time I come to this so-called home, this hometown, all of these things flux through my head. In and out and in and out and in and out. How does one become idiot enough to not be able to see through this farce? How does one know of this being a farce and yet be a part of it? Doesn’t it hurt their conscience or do they not know that other perspectives exist too? Do they even spend a minute from their busy schedule on thinking about these things I break my head over for no reason at all?

And so I constructed my home in Nada, in the center of the halo of light, in the constellations on the nights of abandoned skies, and everywhere that was not concrete. I constructed a place in my heart, in my mind, in my soul and called it home. And my body became a manifestation of this home, welcoming everyone, especially ones who were not allowed a home anywhere on Earth. Because the places they once called home had borders now.
I carried my home in my mind, raising my ‘self’ from an existential crisis and thus I had more chances of leaving a place that was in shape of concrete. I wandered in jungles, in strange cities and streets, I ran into faces strange yet unknown, I witnessed 3 a.m. skies, I climbed mountains and swam the deepest oceans.
And with this home, I knew it was no more a place to go back to but a place that I always carried with myself. I am no more the part of flux. I am a creator of my own flux, I pause and play it to my own liking, I take breaks often and I ponder when I want to. I don’t think about reasons for doing anything. In the sanctuary of my home reasons are boring. I experience life, for the sake of it.