And yet, as his own death drew near, Sakyamuni turned again towards the north....“ Come Ananda, let us go to Kushinagar”. Like the rest of us, perhaps he longed for home - Matthiessen in The Snow Leopard.
Let’s go home! – Dr. Ryan in Gravity
What does home mean to people?
Is it the house that one stays in or owns?
Is it the place where your family or parents are?
Is it the place where one grew up?
Or the place where your ancestors came from?
Is it just being with the person you love?
Or is it just being yourself with your partner or your friends?
Is it a place where you feel you belong?
Or is it the feel of the air and the earth that is so familiar to you?
We humans are strange beings. At one hand we are forever trying to explore and reach the unknown and then again going further – from the continent of Africa and now to Mars and beyond. On the other hand, there is always an unrelenting need to find one’s roots, a place one can call home.
I have often wondered if the second generation of Tibetans in India feel the same sense of rootlessness that their parents must have felt in an alien land. What about the Bengali and other communities who were forced to leave Assam and Meghalaya even though they had lived there for generations....did they find their roots back in Bengal or do they still pine for the smell of the hills? Despite so many stories and movies, will we ever really understand what people must have felt when the two communities were suddenly uprooted during Partition? Does every Jew in the world feel the need to visit Israel, just so that they know it’s their home and a place which is supposed to be a safe haven for them always? If ever they find peace, will the people of Gaza strip and Palestine who have grown up in an era of strife feel that freedom and comfort to travel and venture out? How deep was the pain of Navratilova who had made America her home but could not stop her tears when the Czech national anthem was played?
When people ask me where is home, I am often stumped. My connection with the state of my community or ancestors is very low because I have never lived there. Except for nostalgia and good memories of a carefree childhood, the place where I grew up has no charm left for me anymore. I do miss the autumn and winters of Delhi but it’s a city I will not like to go back to anytime soon. I have found my warm fuzzy corner in Mumbai but I still have to grow my roots here.
When I grow old and my parents are not there anymore, I do not know where home will be then. But like the Buddha, if there is any place that I would want to go back to at the end of my years, it will be to the high snow bound mountains up north. It’s cold winds, the cerulean skies, warm afternoon sun and the towering snow peaks all around; that is what I want to feel and that is what I want to see when I finally close my eyes. At home, at peace.