Sunday, July 01, 2007

In this village I have no home

'In this village I have no home.' Thus goes one line from a poem by Sunil Gangopadhyay. This line has haunted me since my early youth, when I first read it when I was posted at a colliery in the initial years of my career. Then too I had no home and wrote the poem 'Exile' in Bengali, which follows.


The lonely midnight wind brought the news

That the world had exiled me.

I prayed for forgiveness to the dawning sun.

Standing under the sky before dawn

I was granted audience with God.

Now I am calm

There is tranquility in my breath

My mind is still

like cold silent steel

Now I am much closer to earth.

In the coal dust lying on the ground

Between the twigs and yellow green leaves

Feathery shadows of the the spring sun.

I seek shelter in those shades.

I had got the news long before.

The day when Calcutta rejected me.

The state of no home goes farther back. To the day one leaves home to go to college. I wouldn't know about leaving home for a school hostel. That would be traumatic, I surmise, but the subjects would be much too young to understand and as they grew up they would accept it as normal but I think it would leave a deep imprint in those green lives. A psychologist could tell if a study has ever been conducted on the effect of leaving home for a school hostel compared to those who have had the benefit of being able to go to school while living with their families. My view is living with ones families is definitely better. Aren't people who lose a parent in childhood scarred emotionally for life. Here one is losing not only one but both parents and ones siblings and the love that one gets from them.

About going to college, I remember the initial exhilaration of freedom from parental supervision at the age of eighteen. But visiting my university later on and watching the students then, I understood that all our dissipation of energy on chat, grass and movies in our college days arose out of a deep loneliness that we didnt realise. One had a home back in ones home town. But one lived elsewhere in ones university town. Neither was home.

Ditto, in our initial working lives, till one got married. For me, the choice was made by my father and pleasant or not, it took care of loneliness.

Now I am back again to that state. For continuing to receive the dole that I am paid for my services rendered to the government owned company that I work for, I have been transferred to another location, where I cannot move my family. This came with a promotion and I would have been frowned upon had I not accepted it. I endured the frowns for sometime but ultimately surrendered to the will of my company. Its difficult to live on the wrong side of ones employer or the society however absurd both may be. Ironically (I have come to expect such ironies out of life) this came with a reduction in pay (they will not pay me House Rent Allowance as my flat is located at Calcutta, my previous posting, and not at my current posting) along with increase in expenses on account of having to maintain two establishments. But what irks me is what I call 'having no home', neither at Calcutta where my family lives and which I visit every Sunday nor at Dhanbad where I stay six days in the week.

This supposes home to be a house furnished by love. But such a house is also temporary as those that love one are also temporary. One has to endure separation from ones parents, siblings, children and ultimately, losing ones spouse to man made or natural causes.

So is the house where an old widower lives all by himself not his home ?

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