Monday, March 7, 2011

house as home: revisiting the place and space

Memories always play with human emotions. They make you introspect as well as retrospect resulting into a chaos of feelings. Memories have a strong connection with something unique which remains forever.Childhood memories leave an impact that lingers for a lifetime. Though the child is able to reciprocate to a less number of incidents, the clarity of those incidents gets manifested in him very deeply; subconsciously transforming his nature of thoughts and actions.

My childhood nostalgia mainly includes the memories at ‘Avdhut’ – my home at Sector 22 in Gandhinagar. This corner plot is a ground plus two structure lined by many red and white colored champa trees at the entrance. My house comprises of a living area facing an open garden, a dining area, a kitchen attached with wash and two bedrooms on the ground floor whereas three bedrooms on the first floor. Through a spiral iron staircase on the first floor, we enter the second floor having three multi level terraces and a huge circular water tank.

Born in a well knitted Gujarati family, I reside with my grandfather, parents and a younger brother since last two and a half decades. I am emotionally attached to all; the place, people and the objects .They have transformed a brick – concrete structure into a livable place and nurtured it into a lovable environment.

This compells me to think that what is it that makes your house different from others? Why is it that by sleeping only on a certain pillow you get a sound sleep? Why is it mandatory to spend some time near that window of your room? And the list is endless..Sometimes we never question our habits which are developed by many of these unobserved elements. A similar intimacy is experienced by me towards specific elements and spaces in my house.

My first and the most favorite of the element is the swing or the hichka (as said in Gujarati) in the open garden to which I am addicted. It is the only element in our entire house which has not changed in the last twenty six years. Never did I realize when it became such an inevitable part of my life. Me and my younger brother are so attached to it that it is mandatory to spend at least an hour with it dis cussing our most confidential and personal conversations. While writing about this special member, I realize that how a seemingly passive element plays an extremely active role in our social structure ; hence making me a secret aesthete for the same.

The second element reminds me of my school days, winter mornings and my grand mom. It was a Parijaat tree in the front of my house which sheds the memories of my late grandmother. It’s special because I precisely recall my grand mom ordering me to get the Parijaat flowers for her morning prayers. Amidst the winter mornings, the joy of pushing the tree and the subsequent pouring of the white and orange flowers on me is still immeasurable. The low height elevated platform on which the grill rested became my seating place. After that, the entire process of choosing the best of the flowers and putting them in a specific order in the steel thaali was brain taxing. For me this entire process was a prayer in itself because there was a sense of complete involvement, sincerity and devotion that was inculcated by me. I now realize that the
Parijaat tree not only had an aesthetic appeal but also a functional value.

The third space that binds me is the Puja room in our house located at the mezzanine level. Though I am not its regular visitor, I feel satisfied by its mere presence.The huge pictures and the idols of God Goddesses emanate vibrancy. When the sun rays disembark on the huge picture of Om, the entire room gets filled up with the repertoire of the yellow color. Spiritually too the vibrations in the room are profound. The intangible space inside the Puja room and its soothing expe rience makes the room special.

The fourth element is the terrace area of my house. This space has become special to me only in the recent times since I have had many Bharatnatyam dance practices on it. During the dance rehearsals, I am able to see the “dhaja” of the Jain Derasar temple that is located at the distance of one kilometer from my house.
I feel God watching over my dance whenever I look at its saffron color. Somehow, I am always able to concentrate on the dhaja inspite of the complicated actions and immense mobility. Hence, I feel an interesting juxtaposition of the physical horizontal plane and the unseen space.
What intrigues me is how the solidarity of an element, (in case of the Parijaat tree /Hichka) or a space, (Pujaroom/ terrace) gets transformed into an emotion. The familiarity of these elements encourages me to feel deeply for my house. I cherish the connections with these spaces, treasure the conversations with the intangible and value the feeling that it belongs to me. Most importantly, it unfolds the intricacies of the emotion those appeal me and make me say – that’s my ‘home’.

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