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Finding Home

I could not fix the wall. It was not a job in isolation because the balcony's walls were violated by Bombay's unvarying rain from August to September, tiles in the washroom had lost their saffron colour, the mirror was broken at the edge, the wooden staircase was slippery and they also needed to be repaired and repainted.


File Photo

My earliest memory of home is a '36wide and 80 long hospital type bed in a tiny room in my boarding school that I shared with another boy I have long lost touch with. 'Home' was a wooden bed, three yellow coloured pillows, two indigo bed sheets, and a white mattress.


I changed my boarding schools and then moved to college, but my home and the size of the bed never changed. The colour of bedsheets and pillow remained the same. I never liked the faded yellow colour wall in my 'home' in Mumbai and the dark sky colour walls with purple as a mix in my 'home' in Surat. I tried to repaint it but my landlord would never allow me to change the colour. That often reminded me how I am constantly homeless even though I lived in a cemented house that has four walls, a roof, a cupboard, a kitchen, except me.


Lucy and Bombay Home, 2020

My parents moved to Ranchi and we lived as tenants. I did not like our house with pink walls with maroon borderlines. I wanted to bring plants and many plants to the house and make home with my eleven rabbits, my dog - Cookie and cats - Panda, Inky, and Lucy.


But that was not home either. Only my eleven rabbits were allowed by the landlord. Panda, Lucy, Cookie and I remained homeless.


I wanted to change the painting, curtains, and curtain holders of a specific size and design with a steel ring around it but Appa said it was very expensive and we postponed it to a later date, months and years. We never stopped postponing.


Finding home remained a continuous quest.


Bombay Home and Lucy, 2018

My most recent 'home' in Colaba was a long (not large) room with a high ceiling with a tall window overlooking the grand monuments of South Bombay with trees by its sides and a flock of cuckoos singing their spring songs and sometimes interrupted by the gang of crows.


YMCA Colaba, 2021

Though I had the same '36wide and 80 long hospital type bed, four white pillows, a floral bedsheet, two Indigo bedsheets, two white bedcovers and an old overused but useful mattress; walls of my room struggled to hold together its sad and thin yellowish paint.


Colaba Home, 2021

The thick, fragile but crisp skin of walls ceaselessly kept shrivelling. The band-aid white patch of paints to cover the separation of the skin and walls was miserable and obvious and always remained me that something gravely broken exists in my room with me. It disturbed me. Always.


Colaba Home, 2021

I could not fix the wall. It was not a job in isolation because the balcony's walls were violated by Bombay's unvarying rain from August to September, tiles in the washroom had lost their saffron colour, the mirror was broken at the edge, the wooden staircase was slippery and they also needed to be repaired and repainted.


But this room with a high vaulted ceiling was closer to what I could think of home. There was an old military-style and medium-size cupboard, a monstera plant, an English era chair and a table that faced the window overshadowed by the mango tree. I brought a painting to the room and there were cats near the house, though I could not bring them to my room due to impositions.


The Window, Colaba, 2021

I loved decorating, redesigning my room. I changed layouts, the bedsheets, the carpet, and rug as often as I could, sometimes every day and sometimes three times, but never less than that.


I tried building my home in houses that did not belong to me.

Sketch of a Home

In October 2021, I moved to Germany for my master's studies and one of the most persistent thoughts was about the idea of 'home' I could build which I never had.


But it was not a plan the housing department happily consented to. Instead, they allotted me a house infested with mold which has 4 rooms - two big and two small with three flatmates in a soviet-era building.


It has a very small kitchen with two shelves often occupied by the rest of my flatmates, a bathroom with three washbasins - two of which never works, a washroom that never ceases to remain dirty and a lot of noise at unusual hours, unwashed utensils, dustbins with flies pollinating other flies, a broken wooden chair and a refrigerator with black fungi.


Erfurt Home, 2021

My room had a sticky floor, a bed with a white mattress, two big cupboards, two bookshelves, a study table with a chair and a small dining table suitable for a lonely dinner and lunch and breakfast and snacks. My room has a white window, a white light, four white walls and a white roof that voluntarily does not prevent the noise coming from the floor right above it.


I have tried to make it home with floral and Indigo bedsheets I carried along, the yellow light, a carpet with constellations of stars and galaxy and yet I am incessantly waiting for a home.


Erfurt Home, 2021

People ask me why I admire their clean washrooms, well-organized kitchen, the colour of their homes; walls, the olive oil and groceries in their kitchen tucked nicely in the shelf, the oven, the colour of bed sheets, rugs and everything that they can freely cook in their kitchen, walk-in their house in their inner wears or underwears or maybe naked without wearing slippers, cook dinner together with people they love, play music when they want and stay quiet when they like, sleep like a toddler, and cry crazy when they have a bad day.


I am denied all of the above. I have been asked to shrink my space of beauty, of love, of grief, and sleep. I am slowly and regularly shrinking. My hair is radically thining. My sleep refuses to comfort me. My body is becoming uglier. My love for cooking is confining to the 'save' action on Instagram. I can not stay alone, in peace. Crying is a work of logistics. I am assiduously on alert. I am disappearing.


My home is a violation of my space and consent in continual progress.

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