Home sweet home is where you belong. Those who are away pine to go back. Those who don’t have a home, make a home wherever they are. And there are many for whom the sky is the roof.
Every morning when I step out of the house, there is a new face among the labourers thronging the neighborhood who have left their homes behind, to build homes. More and more homes for more and more people.
The homeless who build homes.
The new entrant among them has a lost air about him and a lackadaisical body language, but as days advance, he becomes more confident, more sure-footed, embracing the new environment as his own, but somewhere deep inside, he misses his home .and hearth, for that is where he has left his heart behind.
The tea-vendor had also left his home in the village in search of greener pastures. Now I always see him at his kiosk from 6 AM to the time when the shades of the evening begin to fall. Once I saw the entire family still doing brisk business at 9 PM, and was delighted that their enterprise had picked up. The temporary place seemed to have grown roots there. They even carried tiffin carriers, and often the smell of pickle had assaulted my nostrils.
The home is indeed where the heart is, and their hearts seemed to have transferred themselves to the tiny kiosk where they laughed, guffawed, gossiped, watching the burgeoning of one building after another in the vicinity, as did their dreams.
I walk on, in a very thoughtful mood, wondering about which family members they have left behind in the village, how often they talk to them and whether they miss them. A little away, next to the teashop, which has not opened yet, stood a couple of girls, one of them was talking on the cell phone. The language was incomprehensible, but I understood it. It was the language of love, in which the word mamma kept popping up – bright, warm and cuddly.
“We are from Nigeria”, one of them said, with a sad smile. I knew they were students of a private university in our neighborhood, in fact, I had seen many students from Nigeria thronging the ATMs and cybercafés in the vicinity.
“She is talking to her mother. You know, yesterday night, she couldn’t talk to her mother who was desperately trying to call her. So, we got up early morning, and came for a walk this side. The fresh air lifted her spirits, we are so far from home, we really miss our home,” she said with a rueful smile on the most beautiful face that I had ever seen for a very long time.
“We stay just nearby, do come over some day, we will have tea together.”
Oh, we would love that,” they said, brightly. The other girl had finished talking to her mother, and she no longer looked crestfallen.
“I was feeling very homesick, madam”, she said with a sad-happy smile. “Now, I am perfectly fine”. And all of a sudden, she took a couple of diffident steps forward and hugged me, a trifle shyly. We exchanged phone numbers, and parted.
As I walked on, I came across a shabby bundle of rags lying against the graffiti-scarred wall. Another homeless had found a home next to a mangy dog, who whimpered when its eyes fell on me. Was it cold? Hungry? The soles of the man’s feet were black with dirt and grime. Both the homeless – the two legged one and the four-legged one, were huddled together, a tangle of legs.
I was in a very contemplative mood today, as I headed home, John Denver singing in my ears,
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong…
“For home is where the heart is,” sang Elvis Presley. When you leave home, you leave your heart behind.
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