All the houses I grew up in (04/01/17)

I grew up in a small town. Not a City, a Town. Even now, it is a small town and will always remain a small town. You can say that by looking at this place. It’s more populated now, more traffic on the roads. I lived through my childhood in this town. When I remember those days I can distinctly divide them into three sets of images, Green fields, Starry Skies and Corridors and stairs. Growing up in a (what developed countries call) third world country you see two kinds of people around you: one with their own house, one who lives in rented houses. I belonged to the later ( I still do). We moved around the city a lot before finally settling in the all corridors and stairs house.

The first house I remember was our own house. It was a small tin-shed house in a field, something which comes to mind when you read the words A Little House on the Prairie. The town was even smaller those days as I was younger, and my parents both had government jobs, so they managed a small loan and bought this small patch of land just at the outskirts of the town. It wasn’t very safe accommodation per se but they were young and they transformed it into the home of their dreams as best as they could. They had to sell it during a big flood and moved in to the town. Years later when three of us some time reminisced about past, they always regretted the decision. They never succeeded in buying another house, building a home was a dream that never came true no matter how hard they tried. It’s like a curse.
So we went into the town rented a house in a neighborhood populated with people of our own faith which is a minority in this nation. Being a part of a minority is, I don’t know how to describe it, a different way of growing up. You see everything through a outsiders-eye, suspect covert agendas in everything, hate yourself for being different and plan to leave the country the first chance you get. It’s like life of a mouse. Years later I discovered Art Speigelman and realized it’s same in all three worlds. The unique thing about that house was a field within its boundary. Okay it was not a field actually, more of a very big yard. But I was a small boy, in proportion to me it was nearly a football field. I spent a couple of years running in that field, exploring it, building worlds in its corners. That was the biggest small field I ever encountered in my life. There was magic in it. They built a four storied house there later. This part of my childhood feels like a scene from a Neil Gaiman or Ray Bradbury novel. Some years after we had moved from that locality I started to have this recurrent dream about a green, green field. In retrospect it seems like memory of that house has something to do with that.
We moved on to a two room, one tiny kitchen and a bath containing small flat on the back of a much larger two-storied house. So at the front we had an enormous terrace. The bigger house which carried this one on its back belonged to an old big joint family with an ensemble of weird characters. I grew up a bit in those days and my days living alone began here. Also I started noticing the sky, the night sky to be particular. The starry skies I watched lying on my back on the dark terrace was a sight I still dream of. After leaving that house me and night sky fell out of touch. It took three years and one moon lit night before I saw open night sky again in her full glory.
The last one was the all corridors and stairs. A big five storied complex owned by a Hindu businessman family with a lot of tenants. I finally grew up there. It was a confederacy of oddest characters possible. The myth about the patriarch of the owner family was that he found a buried treasure-chest on river bank. With that buried treasure he became one of the most influential person of that locality. His sons and daughters later carried his legacy but people never forgot the day laborer who found a buried chest on the river bank. I can write a whole book out of my experiences in that house, and may be one day I will.
One thing all those houses had common was that they never felt like home. So when I finally left the town seven years back it didn’t hurt a bit to sever my ties with it. You see where I really feel at home isn’t at any house, it’s on the road. Sitting in a cramped bus running at high-speed with the dusty wind wiping perspiration from my face or wandering through the vein like ally ways of Dhaka where I now reside, really feels like home.


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