This is the view of my husband's house from the approach road. But, this was not the scene that greeted me when I first saw this house more than a decade ago. It had been then hiding behind a decorative shamiana and the plants had been trimmed to perfection.
I still remember the smells that had greeted a timid bride that day. Fragrances of sandalwood scented incense, jasmines, roses, freshly painted walls, furniture, flavoursome food and petrichor.
The cool touch of turmeric water to ward off the evil eye, the slight tension that clenched my gut as I took the first step into the house, the heat of the burning wick in the oil lamp, the smiling faces of relatives, the reassuring gestures of my husband, the curious neighbours watching my every step, taking note of my attire and jewellery; this house had witnessed it all.
In the days that followed, it would nurture a different set of beliefs, customs, cuisine and memories within me. The different seasons would paint it in various hues. Time too would wave its magic wand. Children of kith and kin grew up into adults, some got married and flew away to build their own nests. New members arrived to seek its blessings. The warmest presence in the house, my mother-in-law, left for the place from where no one returns.
Things changed for us too. For a while, we were non-resident-Indians who longed to return home during those elusive vacations. Then a little guy arrived in our life and made us more responsible adults. Our careers saw dramatic changes.
Now we rarely visit as we have become settled elsewhere.Yet, whenever we visit, the same warm, secure feeling envelops us. It makes us pause and take note. It reminds us to step back, enjoy life, nature and ponder about things that we really love.
When we step out of the house to return to our own nest, a strange, yet now familiar, longing grip my heart. I realise that somewhere along the way, it has become home for me. The one symbol for stability and warmth. Home away from home.