“Home is where the heart is”

This is a saying that has a lot of depth. This is also a saying which didn’t make sense to me until four years back. No, I was not homeless until then. I had a home where I stayed with my parents until I moved out for my studies. I had a tiny comfort zone in that home too in the form of my room, the door of which I always used to keep shut. But out of that tiny comfort zone it was never my home. And by that I don’t mean I hated the place. I just never felt I belonged there even though it was technically my home too. It has probably got to do a lot with the unhappy incidents of my childhood. To me it was always a place where I couldn’t feel secure. The constant fights that stemmed from this only strengthened my feeling of “not fitting in”, because the more we fought the more I became scared of being home. In a way, as a kid I was always waiting for the day I would leave home and find one for myself. The reason was simple. My heart was never really there.

Then came the time when I did leave home at the age of 19. I cried the first day in my new hostel, because I was suddenly scared. But the next day I pulled myself together and for the next eight years, I kept moving from hostel to hostel. None of these places gave me the feeling of “home” because my heart was yet again not there.

When all my hostel mates and colleagues talked about taking a much-needed break and going home to relax, I used to rush home for weekends and leave as soon as I could. Every time I came home, there would always be the feeling of “impending doom”, almost like we were anxiously waiting for an outbreak. When I say “we”, I’m assuming that my parents also felt the same way. To put it simply, every time there was a slight difference of opinion and I had to say something, I used to feel like I had to choose between the red and blue wires while defusing a bomb as they show in movies. One wrong word and it could all go wrong; and the ticking bomb would explode. Being cautious all the time and weighing words every time I talked to my own family was difficult and took a toll on me, as I’m sure it did on them too.

I was always upset about this because when everyone else had a “home where their hearts were”, I didn’t have one. And I badly wanted one – a place where I could be myself without worrying about the impact of every word that came from me, a place where I didn’t have to be conscious and cautious all the time, a place where I could relax. In fact, everyone deserves a place they long to get back to and a place they can call “home” with all their heart.

Years later, I am at my parents’ place again for a couple of months, just so that they can spend some time with our baby, who is only a month old and I can sit back and relax for a while before getting back to household chores and taking care of the little one alone. But I realize that even now after we have buried the past, moved on and share a very happy relationship, the fear that we have always had still lingers, probably because of years of conditioning. The fear of the ticking bomb is still there in everyone’s mind, even when we share jokes and laugh. I am accepting the fact now that although my parents and I love each other so much, this house will never be my home; it will always be a vacation spot where I can only spend a few days. Once the “honeymoon period” of short vacations is over, the anxiety would creep in again. In short, my heart is still not here.

But that is okay, because I now have a home. I finally found my home four years back, in a person, my best friend, my husband. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere; I finally fit in. For the first time in my life I didn’t have to watch my words; I didn’t have to think too much before saying or doing anything; I didn’t have to worry about anything. For the first time in my life I could be carefree; I could relax; I could be myself. For the first time in my life I found absolute peace. Being with him made me realize “home” is a feeling, not really a space within four walls. Where he is, my heart is. Where he is, my home is. Staying anywhere else still makes me uneasy and anxious. But I now cope with that anxiety looking forward to the day when I would get back to my home, my world, my love.