Leaving home

Reflecting on leaving behind a place we called home for over a decade.

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We humans have a fancy of calling a small piece of our home planet our own. Whether we really own it is a philosophical question best left to be answered another day, but right now it is clear why we need it: a roof over our heads, a secure space, a personal space, a spiritual space, a place of such comfort that we need never acknowledge it explicitly. Our place.

Such was our home, a British-era structure with a spacious front yard and a sprawling backyard, with eucalyptus and mango trees, and Mussaenda erythrophylla, hybiscus and jasmine. And a Christmas tree that I planted when I was six, fully intending to outgrow it, that now towers over me at well over 50 feet. Inside the house is full of light and breeze—a feat of incredible natural ventilation—made possible by thick walls, a high ceiling, red oxide flooring, and several windows.

Like that of all humans, over time this place became much more to us than a home: it was where memories were made, where many landmarks of our life were founded, where I grew up, where my wife came home after we wed, where we entertained guests for tea and dinner and drinks, where we grew as individuals and took decisions that would stay with us forever. It was a house that employed many, was a beacon of trust to them, and a promise of hope. Touchingly, every single one of them was willing to move with us. This was a world in itself and one that I personally looked forward to as a summertime vacation home every year. It was with me even when I was away. It was a house full of memories that will soon be a memory itself.

We are leaving this house with good reason but with little choice. I am not one to look back at all that was and feel sorrow; I’d rather look ahead at all that will be and smile. There is, therefore, nostalgia, wistfulness, and bittersweet wishful thinking. The day we moved in is still in my mind, clear as ever. Oh, that one unforgettably weird tree that curved over and over again in a double-S shape; or those benches we made out of wood that termites ended up claiming over the years; or that rack my father had made for me for my rifling target practice. And so comes the thought, is there some way we can still keep this house? Alas, no.

We cared for this house deeply and we can only hope whoever moves in after us will do the same. We tended to these gardens with love and we can only hope whoever moves in after us will do the same. We equipped and modernised this house without disturbing its old-school charm that made it a home and we can only hope whoever moves in after us will continue the same. We valued it and we can only hope whoever moves in after us will find it in them to do the same.

Marcus Aurelius famously said, ‘The universe is transformation, life is opinion.’ Leaving this home is our transformation, a change that defines life itself. And our perspective about this—the manner in which we choose to respond to this—can be various but we choose to respond as we believe is right: with joy, with hope, with love, with nostalgia, and with thanks to what will forever be our home.