This is the roof top of our family house,the place that I call home. I used to spend a long time of my days till I was ten, and most of the time after that, in that house. Ours was a big family with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. All my uncles and aunts used to live in various cities scattered all over India: New Delhi, Dehradun, Korba, Kolkata & c. They used to return home to meet their parents regularly. That used to be a very happy occasion for those at home (five by sixty-one), especially the only child there. The celebratory atmosphere stretched up to nearly the penultimate day of their stay. After that, there used to be a forty-eight hours countdown to their sad departure. The pattern is repeated at some other houses today, with different people and roles. The family has left the house.
Then I used to be the one who stayed back, and now, the one who goes away. The one who stayed back had the solace of staying with most of his people at and in his place. The one who goes away faces three types of separations: from his people, from his place and from both of them together. They are all painful. Pain of this kind has no degrees of comparison. After each separation I have vowed never to create a situation leading to the next one, in vain.
There’s more. There are some rare occasions on which nearly the whole family assembles, and none of those occasions have happened in the family house for at least a decade now. So, we met as a family at some alien location, and departed after a couple of days: separated sans the pain of two kinds – pain of separation from the place and that of the same from the place and people combined. I had been to my place a couple of times; once with our separate joint family (my father’s nuclear family), but there weren’t all family members to meet or get separated from. My grandparents left the house and the world on the same day: my grandmother passed away first. Only my father’s nuclear family had stayed there then. Others kept returning: at much longer intervals than before, till my grandfather’s demise, and rarely after that.
The place was separated from its people. It does not feel, the house, or it would become a poet (like Valmiki). Grief makes poets out of men with heart hardened like stone, not of stones and bricks or things made of them.
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