Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh, so you won't be going home, this winter!

I had barely turned a corner
When I stumbled upon a bunch of scholars 
Wending homewards
Rucksacks on their shoulders
Leaving their snow-bound hostel life behind
Their burrowed faces glowing with excitement
A spirited alacrity in their deliberate stride
The prospect of going home
Had made turtles of them all  
And my mind had raced back to you
Or what you’d said
When I asked you, if you, too, would be going home? 
With a lump rising in your throat
You had looked away,
Refusing to let me see the mist in your eyes,
Fighting back your tears, you’d said:  
‘I don’t go home that often,
Going home is not always an option  
If you have a home,
And if you don’t, it’s probably much less,  
You have to have a home to go back to,
Memory of a concrete structure alone is not enough, 
Brick, mortar, wood and plaster make wonderful houses
Spreading a roof-like canopy overhead
Houses give us protection, no warmth
Well, if that is about all we need to know,
Hostels, too, have ways of rooming us in, 
So what if a mother’s love doesn’t flow
With room heaters on, warmth oozes slow.’
Something had stabbed deep inside me
When you had said:
‘Dark caves in which we all lived once
Do not always make a home
With sunlight filtering in, occasionally
Or playing a feverish game of hide-n-seek
With shadows dancing upon the walls’
Your philosophical musings had wrenched me
Inside out  
Leaving a gaping hole where my heart was,
I had started wondering about Doris Lessing  
And her ‘Going Home’ to Africa
Not so much to discover a past that wasn’t there
But to trail a future she had dreaded the most
Sensing that I had begun to enter your space
You had felt violated, as it were,
And then breaking into my thoughts, you’d said: 
‘Home is where the spatial boundaries of your hostel room
Simply melt away
Home is where a mother waits with open arms
Home is where kicking up all your stuff into a corner
You just curl up like a snail to read a book, undisturbed
As your father fusses over you, endlessly 
Tolerating a hundred thousand tantrums
And your squeaky little whims.’  
My heart had lurched into my mouth at the thought
That you won’t be going home, this winter 
And remain snow-bound,
Imprisoned, inside your hostel room 
Oh, what is this bondage of fear,
That makes us deny someone we love
Both warmth and care
After all, we humans are not like hermit crabs
That we can carry our homes on our backs,
Fold up, shrink or expand
Shifting the awesome burden of our home
From one jelly-leg to another       
John Donne I never was
Nor do I ever hope to be, 
Or I’d have made a room for you everywhere,
If not a ‘sanctuary’ for your quiet dignity, 
At least an Igloo of words
Somewhere in the dark alleys of the Arctic
Where temperatures fall below sub-zero  
Knowing well, you won’t be going home, this winter.  

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful and I can't deny that I know the person in the poem..

    There's a story behind every reason