Home?

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He was back home.

Home. The name on the signboard was his. It was his signature on the monthly EMI cheques. It was he who had paid for the bulk of the furniture and appliances and gadgets et al that adorned the house.

They why did he feel nothing when he stepped in? No welcoming warmth within these walls, no bonding with all this stuff, accumulated over more than a decade and at the expense of a veritable fortune. But all that meant diddly squat.

This was a house, beautifully and expensively furnished and on paper it belonged to him. But it wasn’t a home, not his, not anyone else’s.

Not since she had left. And now that signatures on legal affidavits had sealed shut any eventuality of her ever coming back, all last pretences of it being a place that offered him some succour from the buffets of daily life had been laid to rest.

He came here cause he had nowhere else to go. He ate cause it was a non-negotiable condition for his continued survival. He laid down and shut his eyes and tossed and turned and wept about happier times till sunlight magnanimously permeated through the darkness and announced the onset of yet another 16 hours of going through the motions of being alive.

He couldn’t go on like this, that was sure. The darkness of this kind of an existence had taken root deep within his soul and was sucking in all that even promised to be bright or happy the minute they set foot into his life… Pretty soon, the darkness was all that would be left and that would lead him to some morbid catastrophe.

But what was the option? Alcohol fuelled all night revelries had been attempted but he no longer had the constitution nor the digestion to sustain them on any long term basis. Under pressure from concerned friends and desperate for some relief from this unending emptiness he had attempted dating again – referrals from friends, online and mobile apps, even paid for agents of Cupid. And he had met a multitude of women, some of them extremely nice, a few of them ravishingly attractive, one who had even set his heart going patter pit for a little bit.

But a little bit was the maximum anyone of them had succeeded in holding off the mists of melancholy that constantly shadowed and swirled around him. Certainly none had the potential to set foot within this house, dispel the depression forever and wield the magic that could make it a home again. None of them could take her place…

What was he to do then? A dead end everywhere, nary even a crevice to squeeze out through. Was he doomed to continue basic respiratory activity in this prison until the moment his breathing gave up, whence this could become a mausoleum in which he’d be entombed forever?

Nah.. He was over dramatizing things. When he did expire, his body would be carted off and giving an unceremonious, unheralded, uncared for cremation by municipal workers along with all the other family-less souls  who had given up the ghost that day. The house would pass on to whomsoever would be his designated heir and perhaps he/she would make better use of this space. Perhaps they turn it into what it yearned to be – a home. Not just a domicile for a disintegrating existence.

Suddenly he felt an overwhelming sense of purpose. Whoever lived here after him, would not end up this way. They would not mortgage their heart’s happiness on the altar of material gain and ego gratification. He would make sure of that. He would, if it was the last thing he did…

 

                                    *         *        *        *        *        *        *        *        

Their hearts were pulsing with excitement as the key turned in the lock. Their dream of owning a house in Mumbai, a forbidden fantasy for most folk had miraculously become real. Who would have thought that a long forgotten uncle (and not even a direct bloodline one) would bestow on them such unexpected largesse?

The door opened. And the first chit flew out onto her face. Followed by dozens of others. As their dazed eyes flitted over the hall they realised there were chits everywhere, covering every square inch of floor, stuck on the walls, on the roofs, over the windows… Over the next few days they would find these chits inside cupboards, lining shelves, inside pillow cases and curtain linings, anywhere one could think of and a million places no one could have contemplated.

It was obvious the previous owner had a message to convey and he was determined that it be comprehended and followed. Even if he had to share it a million times or more…

But for all the ingenuity and intricacy with which the chits had been placed, hidden, stowed away, the actual message was simplicity itself.

“This house has everything except what is needed to make it a home – two hearts that cannot be without the other. Hold on to each other even if you have to give up everything else cause if you lose each other, you lose the only thing that makes life worth living…”

 

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