Do you know how it feels to try hard to adjust your life in your own home?
Have you ever felt at home somewhere far away from home, and felt like a complete stranger in your own old home?
As a hosteler for two long years, I know and I have felt so.
At a time when the whole world is home, hostelers are confused as to they can address the definition of a ‘home’.
Here, the morning does not start with the “Bhaiya, jhadoo!” and the knock-knock of the hostel staff. It has been replaced with “uth ja 9 baj gaye, kab tak soyega,” (Wake up, it’s 9 am. Till when will you keep sleeping?) by the ladyship of the house.
There is no jalebi, samosa, chai of the canteen, and no puke-like daal, and the tasteless food of the mess. The days are long and the hostel-campus-library-market schedule has shrunk to a room. The night outs have replaced themselves with sleepless nights on a bed that I have called my own for some twenty years.
The cupboard has old books of my entrance exam days, romantic novels, and my old, worn-out clothes. There is no Gorky, Calvino, Dostoevsky or Faiz, nothing of my present self.
I have not heard a single cuss word since the day this quarantine season began and since I left my hostel for my home.
An undeclared discipline surrounds my lifestyle throughout the day.
“Is this the same house where I crawled for the first time, celebrated diwalis, new years, and birthdays?” I wonder. I am trying to fit into it again. And, the strangest question is, why do I need to fit into the homeliness of this very home of mine?
Do I possess this home or any part of it now? Or is the toothpaste, bucket, soap, and mirror I bought for my hostel room my only property? Do I belong to this home at all? Do I possess a single brick of this home?
Is the slow mobile data speed making me miss the unlimited hostel wifi or is the large space of my room too big for my presence? Is the nameplate outside this house, that does not mention my ownership, teasing me? Or, did a paper with my name, class, subject pasted on my room’s door make me so arrogant that I couldn’t fit into this house with a different ‘owner’? ugh.
What is the definition of home for you?