A New Place to Call Home

My family and I have recently moved into a new neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood, we have a new place that we now call ‘Home’. I’ve only ever known one other Home in my life; that Home, I had known for over 25 years — more, if you count the time that I was moving and shifting around in my momma’s belly. That was Home. And, a bit unnervingly, I still call it that even now. I don’t mean to, I really don’t. I like this new Home I have. I really do. I like the space and the air, the greenery and the birds.

But my old Home was family; it wasn’t just a brick and cement building. Imagine moving into a new Home and leaving one of your family members behind in the old one… That may sound extreme or exaggerated, and before moving, I might have thought the same if I had heard someone else make that analogy. But, I promise, that is how I feel. I have left part of my family behind. An old grandpa. Or old uncle. (Yes, my old Home was a man. Grey and wrinkly. And cracking in certain places. But he was lovable and dear.)

It is impossible to bring him along, but it feels almost as impossible to leave him behind. I drive past this old Home and I struggle to picture other people inside it. I try to imagine them in our kitchen, eating around our table, or lounging in our living room, and I feel like they are intruders. I want to visit my old Home, just to see if he is doing okay. To see what they’ve done with him, and if they’re treating him well. Now, I know I am bordering on insane here, but how do you not become just a little bit crazy when you leave behind 25 years of running up and down the passage even when Mum said not to; banging bedroom doors to relieve teenage frustration; family breakfasts, lunches and suppers around an antique dinner table; or sounds of creaking doors that would alarm you to the approaching parent just in time so that you can hide that novel that you should not be reading or that movie that you should not be watching while you actually should be studying Bio or Geography for your final Matric exam? And if you think that sentence was too long to digest, perhaps that gives you a slight indication of the length of time I am trying to squeeze together into some comprehensible and tangible form so that I may keep it alive for a little bit longer.

Blog Images (1)

Now I know they say that Home is where the heart is, or where the family is, and that this is just a new place for me to make new memories, and that change is good and all of that. I’m sure they are right. But change and a new Home takes some getting used to, and memories take a while to become memories. So while I do honestly love this new place, I am still waiting for it to really feel like Home. In the mean time, let me share with you some things I miss about my old Home, my old uncle that I left behind. Some of the things on this list I had already documented elsewhere, on more temporary media forms, and due to a concerned friend, who kindly advised me to try to think of things I like about my new Home, rather than reflecting too much on the past, I stopped that list. But now I want to continue, but please note: this is not a lament. This is not a form of nagging and moaning for what is lost. This is just me reminiscing and fondly replaying the memories of a place that was Home for the first 25 years of my life. I’d like to look back 25 years from now and remember that place, and the details of it. But by then I’ll be 50. And I might have Alzheimer’s, or just plain ol’ bad memory. So these words might help as a supporting aid.

Blog Images (2)

Things I Miss About My Old Home:

1. My cousin who lived three roads away. Random evening or afternoon walks up to her house, or random visits from her — these are no more. In fact, just random evening walks anywhere in the neighbourhood. We still take random walks in the evening in this new neighbourhood, to my sister who stays up the road, or just around for the fun of it, but there’s no community here. No little children running through the streets at a time that they actually should already be in bed, no teenage boys taking skateboard races up and down a cul-de-sac, or people sitting on stoeps having casual conversations in the cool night air. I loved seeing these things while my parents and I leisurely walk through the streets at night. Oh, and bumping into aunties and uncles along the way and stopping to greet but then ending up having a 30-minute conversation. (All our neighbours are aunties and uncles. I mean, our ex-neighbours.)

2. My neighbours. We weren’t the tightest-knit community of people. There were people two houses away whose names I did not know. But there was Uncle Kevin across the road; we never spoke, but we always waved in passing. There was Aunty Faeeza next to him; she often sent us guavas from her guava tree in her backyard, and I grew up playing with her children. There was Aunty Zaida next door; she made scarf shopping really easy and convenient because she sells them. And Uncle Muhammad who always stood on the corner at the end of our road; I’m not quite sure where he lives, and I’ve never spoken to him at all, but he waved in greeting to me each morning as I took that corner. And, like I said, all my neighbours are aunties and uncles, even those that lived roads away.

3. Hobos that you know and who become regulars at your house. I used to have conversations with them. It was memorable.

4. Shorter distance between Home and my place of work. And no traffic. At all. Just some annoying drivers along the way. But other than that, it was just me and the wide, open road. Now… I have more distance, annoying drivers, and a slow-moving, car-crammed, accident-prone highway between me and my place of work. Granted, that stretch of car-crammed highway is not very long before I again get on the wide, open M5 road, but when there are slow-moving cars, the 3 minutes you should spend on that highway to get to the M5 turns into 10-15 mins of agony.

5. My beautiful, close view of the mountains from my front stoep. My old neighbourhood is not the most scenic of places. In fact, it is pretty crowded and houses are very close to one another. But we were also close to the mountains. And I loved looking at it as I stepped out in the mornings, or on sunny afternoons. I love the mountains. Sometimes, as I’m driving, I am in danger of getting too close to the car in front of me because I’m too busy staring at the glorious mountains and the different patterns and fashions in which the clouds cover it. So having the mountain so close to my doorstep was a huge bonus that I never took for granted.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6. The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air from the nearby Blue Ribbon bakery. This one my cousin reminded me of — the cousin who lives three roads away. She lives in the neighbourhood too, so she would know. That smell… is beautiful. I would come to the red light at the intersection just outside the bakery and sit there just inhaling that aroma. Gosh, I miss it.

7. Living around the corner from a masjid. That was just a blessing. There is so much attached to that. To which masjid will I rush through the streets during Ramadan for taraweeh now? Which masjid will sound the athan into our home now? There is no masjid near enough here.

8. The ‘Eid vibe. ‘Eid has just passed us. It was the quietest ‘Eid I have ever experienced. Reasons are already stated above: community, masjid, all of that.

9. Creaks, cracks and bangs that I knew. Here, there are sounds of creaks, there are cracks, and there are bangs that I am not familiar with yet. And they FREAK me out! Especially when I am alone at home. I knew every sound in my old Home; I knew exactly from which part of the house or from which object falling it came. Here, I do not. Even the sound of the wind scares me.

I shall end it there. I do not want to make this list too exhaustive, lest it be thought that I am unhappy in my new Home. I am not unhappy. I am, indeed, very happy here. Alhamdulillah (All praise to Allah). I miss the old, naturally, but I certainly appreciate the new for what it is. It is spacious, fresh, lush, quiet and safe. I find new reasons to love it each day. And I know that, soon, this Home will become an old aunty to me (this Home feels like a woman; a fairly young and fresh woman too). So do not be mistaken by my words of longing for my old Home. I long for it, and I will most probably always miss it a little. It was my first Home. It is where all my firsts happened. But I am excited at the new prospects. I have visions of amazing times here with my family in this new place to call Home.

____________________________________________

Have you ever felt connected to a building or place, like they’re a part of your family? Or am I just a strange person?

Signoff

 

Advertisements

NaPoWriMo Day 3: My Sisterhood

Day 3 of NaPoWriMo and I’ve already decided to stray from the daily prompts. I’ve spent the day with some of the amazing women in my life, women I consider as my sisters, my family. I love these women so crazily. So this poem is for them.

My Sisterhood

I’ve written about this before–

Can there be words anymore?

I hear it in our silence,

And when we speak there need be no shyness.

I feel it around us;

When we’re together there is no fuss.

I love these girls,

They’re more valuable to me than pearls.

This is my sisterhood.

When I’m with them I know I am understood.

This is a love that I am lucky to know

And each time I think about it, I cannot help but say, “Woah…”

_____________________________

Share your thoughts with me below, tell me about who you consider as your family.

Comment

Cleri-who?

Clerihew. [Pronounced kle-ri-yoo].

Definition: A witty, satiric verse containing two rhymed couplets and mentioning a famous person. Yeah, first time I’ve ever heard of it, too.

This NaPoWriMo thing has been really awesome–who knew there were so many weird and wonderful styles of poetry in the world? Certainly not me. I mean, I love poetry and all, and I’ve been writing poems since my very early days, but I’ve always just done my own thing, never really stuck to much structure. And I’ve certainly never learnt about clerihews, double dactyls or ekphrastic poetry in the classroom! But in this past month, I’ve learnt much about poetry and have tried interesting new styles of writing. Even though I haven’t been consistently active in participating in the poem-a-day aspect of National Poetry Writing Month, I’ve still been checking in on the website from time to time to see what the latest challenge is–and if I could meet it. So I’ve tried my hand at today’s challenge, which is to write a clerihew, and I want to share it with you…

Louis Tomlinson from One Direction

Had my students screaming from an infection.

Their mindless music is pathogenic,

It causes people to become schizophrenic.

I quite like this one. And the poem is based on true happenings, I might add–my students’ beahviour earlier this week was positively insane about this curly little guy (or maybe one of his other cronies, I can’t really be sure which one… I just grabbed any one of their names after googling them). It was utterly and ridiculously laughable. And sad. Very, very sad.

Anyway, this post is not about that. It is about poetry. And April. And April is just about coming to an end. But poetry shall never end! (Said in a voice filled with conviction). This month has felt really, really long, but wonderfully so. It has been a splendid month, I think. And not just because it was my birthday earlier this month (in fact, that plays a very small part in the greater scheme of things), but because of poetry, for one, and everything else in between, for another. Months are usually just months to me. Nothing special about them. It is days and moments that I usually cherish and reflect back on, but this past month has been something special to me. It has been a month of family and a month of friends. It has been a month of personal growth and of simple reminders leading to beautiful things. It has been a month of sad, harsh truths, and learning to accept them. All in all, it has been a month of people. I think I should write another poem, and title it An Ode to April… That is how passionate I feel about this month that has passed.

Farewell, dearest April. Do come again soon, even if by another name, for April, by any other name, would be as memorable.

_______________________________

What did you love most about this month? Or what did you hate about it? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.