We walked into that house 17 years ago!
A house that had witnessed the death of one of its own and was welcoming another family- A single mother with her two children, who had moved halfway across the country, grieving the loss of a loved one. That house offered a million possibilities, a chance to start over!
It took us a while to settle down. I remember painting the walls, the compound, the gates and every other part that could be painted; we needed a new beginning. It was something we all did together as a family- deciding the colours, learning to mix the paint and the solvent, spilling the paint all over our clothes, soiling our hands with paint and then struggling to get the stains off! Yes, we could have hired people for it; but honestly, we were broke and it was much more fun to do so on our own, than to watch and bug the workers. We insisted on doing so, because the house was a part of us. It was a part of the family.
We needed an abode, and that house sheltered and protected us. I spent my entire childhood in that house. Its walls have witnessed my wailing screams and tantrums; the stubborn arguments that led to unnecessary fights, over why I didn’t have my own room, or why my brother always got his way with everything (well, almost everything!). The walls have heard my deep dark secrets when I whispered it to my friends, our fits of laughter in the living room watching tom and jerry fight over cheese and milk; the chase was never ending, and still seemed pleasant! I always sided with jerry, yet over the years I’ve realized that Tom was really the victim of Jerry’s infinite pranks.
I used the compound walls for support when I stumbled and struggled, learning to skate (one of the many skills I tried to pursue, yet failed miserably)
The coconut trees were used as wickets and boundary lines, while playing cricket. (The rules changed suspiciously, every time I had the chance to bat; my sixer were judged as Fours, because the ball hit a branch or the trunk of the tree which was supposedly the “boundary line”)
I spent nights on the terrace, catching up with cousins, sipping lemonades, playing on Game-boy, gazing at the stars and the moon; dreaming and wondering about the vast universe. Back when we were kids, we had in-numerous questions about the world, and why things are the way they are; we never really accepted anything without questioning first; now, I wonder how and when did it change?
The dark store rooms scared me at night, while during the day, they have been my favourite hide out places. The garage, the terrace, and the old outhouse have been my “spots”, where I’d go to think, read, and disconnect from the world. The Questions were simple back then, and the answers came easy, with time.
I read a blog post, about the art inside of things; there was an interesting concept there, that true relationships, or great art isn’t made; it’s already there, waiting to be discovered! The grand canyon was waiting for the rivers to carve it, beautiful music and stories were already present, waiting to be discovered, and written.
I believe that a place has the power to offer you a bundle of memories that no other place can. Because you are never the same person elsewhere!
I fell in love with the house, the moment I walked in, although I don’t remember all of it, I remember bits and pieces, of a lot of things!
The sunrise that I caught from the kitchen window as I was getting ready for my first day of school; the rain splattering against the window pane of my bedroom on a Sunday afternoon, which I noticed between little naps; the aroma of a freshly cooked meal; the weekend cricket matches with my brother and his friends where I would be the only girl who rarely got picked in a team; fights over rooms and video games; late night group study sessions; rotating the satellite dish on the terrace, yelling all the way across the house as we searched a decent signal for cartoon network and star movies(back then we owned a huge dish, as cable channels were rare); the early mornings when just-born kittens appeared miraculously in our garden and our futile efforts to save them by feeding them milk off an ink filler.
It broke my heart to see them die, one by one, but after a while they just disappeared. (No dead kittens, nothing! My family took the responsibility of burying them, before I woke up in the morning, so that I wouldn’t know) Turns out, our garden was one big graveyard for dead cats and kittens, and I wasn’t even aware of it, yet I chose to believe that the kittens had just wandered off somewhere!
The house witnessed us grow up; I’d learned to ride my first bicycle; and then a few years later, I horribly drove the scooter through all the bushes and almost half way up the coconut tree!
The house witnessed our life, the stubborn fights, lazy vacations, insane makeovers, heartbreaks, anger fits and giggles of laughter, fake tears, real tantrums, birthdays, sleepovers, unusual traditions, break-ins and thefts! It witnessed everything that there could be.
We walked in as children with not a care in the world and walked out as grownups, with a sense of direction pursuing our goals! It’s not just people who help you grow; Places and houses do too!
You are, who you are today, because of the kind of childhood you had.
It is the house that built me!