Two Homes and Infidelity
By Mayuri Bhattacharjee
‘Home Sweet Home’
You will find posters, cups, doormats and similar stuff emblazoned with these words. I think, just like the word love, the word home sells a lot of products too, and just like love, home is a difficult concept to define. Wise women and men say that a home is much more than just four walls and a roof. But how would you define ‘much more’? I am sure a lot of you will have an answer. As for me, I am yet to get one for myself.
Leaving aside those blink-and-you-miss vacations, I have been away from home and my parents for the past seven years. The first five years were spent in different hostels which had one thing in common: atrocious food. Initially, home-sickness clung on to me like a leech but after a few days I became busy adjusting myself in a college in which Anandaram Dhekial Phukan had studied and where one had to constantly try hard to be called a worthy student of the college. I had a tough time, and incidents like a classmate literally having a heart attack when I expressed my ignorance about the films made by Jean Luc Godard or Luis Bunuel did not make things easy. I find it imperative to give a small piece of information at this juncture about this particular classmate. He had the notion that people from Assam don’t know English or Hindi and he believed that we should stay where we are, that is, in bamboo trees. Did someone say Kolkata is a thinking man’s city? Hmm… Horn Please!
But Kolkata has gradually become my second home. It feels like I had entered into an arranged marriage with the city without any prior feelings of love or hate, but now after all these years I have got so used to it that I can’t do without it. I must add that in this city I found people who welcomed me into their lives with open arms and gave me their unconditional love and affection; without them I would have never learnt to love the ‘City of Joy’.
On the other hand, I passionately miss my home town Tezpur and with each passing year I have begun to enjoy missing it. Me and my town have become like lovers who believe, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and we seem to enjoy the feeling of coming together after an age of waiting. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Never mind, it is the same old situation of loving two people at the same time, equally but in two different ways.
But no matter how much of a wife like love I have for Kolkata, I need to feel the presence of my home town around me. For example, I need a cup of Assam tea served on a bamboo tray to greet my mornings in Kolkata, I want my pens in a holder that I had bought in Tezpur, I need a Mekhala Sador in my wardrobe and I need to speak Assamese once in a while.
But even after spending so many words I can’t quite say what home means to me. I can press my eyes shut and try hard to put into words my definition of ‘home’, but unfortunately I will only end up with a bad headache. Nonetheless, I am very happy with the idea of having and loving two homes, and now that I think of it, maybe it is not infidelity after all; it is just a bad case of an ‘enlarged’ heart.
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