The eternal search for a home
I have always lived in space.
Let me explain. All my life I’ve lived in small towns where space has never been a constraint. Added to the fact that I was born into a privileged family where we could afford more space than we needed.
Yet I’ve always wanted open windows. Windows from which you could see the open sky, watch twinkling stars at night while lying in bed, and wake up to fluffy white cotton candy welcoming you.
A few years ago, I was looking for a house. Whenever people asked me what kind of house I was looking for, I always said the one with windows. Unfortunately, that never happened. In small towns you have houses no taller than 2 stories but they are so intertwined that you take your breath away after a few years of living together.
In 2014, I moved to Mumbai, the city of skyscrapers. I thought my dream would finally come true to live near the clouds.
My heart broke a little when I learned that I was going to stay in an area where there were almost no skyscrapers. But I was happy in the open spaces and started dreaming again of falling asleep looking at the stars at night.
It was midnight when we arrived and I was too tired to look outside. The next morning, when I opened my eyes, I saw a colored window in a tower opposite mine. I was still sleepy but couldn’t contain the excitement any longer and jumped out of bed to take a closer look. I expected a new window laden with colorful flowers, or a balcony with colorful climbing plants adding the shades.
Imagine my plight when I saw nearly arranged rows full of a toddler’s clothes in different colors!
It was then that I learned that space in Mumbai is so scarce that when people have windows, they also turn them into storage places.
For years, the sky outside my workspace has been decorated with a white polythene bag filled with god knows what. Pinky kids clothes. He read, with two toddlers holding hands. Over the years the toddlers were gone and all that was left was Pink Child W R. The shine had long yielded but the bag refused to do so as did my roommate who stowed her extra luggage in this bag.
One day I traveled to South Mumbai and saw the skyscrapers. Once again, the long-forgotten dream is reborn. But this time it was short lived as I read the horror stories of people living on the 150th and 200th floors.
“We can’t keep the windows open because the wind is too strong.”
Some have become chronic asthmatics due to the proximity of clouds, humidity, etc. In the monsoon, rainwater infiltrates judiciously. One of them had wrapped his whole house in a blue tarpaulin to prevent the entry of water. Sigh ! Their experiences were nothing short of a nightmare. It’s not the stuff dreams are made of.
Decades ago, when Nida Faazli said these lines, I perhaps never felt as deeply as I feel them now:
“Kabhi kishi ko mukammal jahan nahi milta
Kahin zameen toh kahin aasman nahi milta”
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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