I remember a line from a song which goes, “And a house is not a home when there’s no one there…” Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact title of the song, but this line has caught me just recently. Why? Because our home has started to become a house.
Yes, there’s no one there. I mean, not that it’s completely desolate, but that it has lost its life. And life it has to the full just a couple of months ago. Our house has not that many number of persons who live there, originally there were only four of us before the advent of new arrivals to the family – my parents, my sister and me. Few as we are, it has become the locus of our lives. I was born there and first set foot on its cold and shiny floor. It has become a sacred ground to my feet. Its roof has sheltered me for most of my teenage years before I braved out to the wider world in search of higher education. And no matter how nice the wider world could be, my mind would always long to return to that place I call home. I don’t care if it looks too ordinary resembling a simple cube-like structure; it’s a home because of the people living there. As I realize later on, no matter how splendid a place could be, only people can put vitality to its being. There’s no substitute to it, take away the people in a place and you would see wilderness – avast stretch of land without life.
And yet, I’m starting to witness the same thing happening to our house which once was a home. Maybe, it would do well if I tell you something more about this home. My sister married when I was third year in high school and that brought a new arrival to our family. A year after that, she had a beautiful daughter. So by then we are six in the family. But I’m not only talking here about numbers or arrivals. Each new addition meant more than that – it means vigor, vitality, life, new persons to put new meaning to the home we are living in. As my sister and her husband are yet to build their own house, for the mean time they decided to live with us. Her daughter brought joy to our home. Our house is small but it was brimming with activities of my mother cooking, my father painting and most of all my little niece running here and there. And no matter if the chairs and tables spread beyond their proper places as my niece frolic around, there is an overwhelming feeling of excitement all throughout the four corners of our little abode. Four years after the birth of my niece came a new addition – my nephew. That means more scattered toys, more noise, and more laughter but it’s nice seeing them both enjoy the seasons of their childhood with all its fun. Their laughter made our house more of a home.
Until my sister’s house was completed last year and she with her family moved there. My parents who are so fond of their grandchildren also spend most of their times there. When I went home for the Christmas vacation, our house was not the same as it used to be when I was growing up. There’s an arresting feeling of solitude all over. No more cooking, no more noise, no more laughter – the presence of the furniture all properly pasted to their places just made the nostalgia more cumbersome. I tried to settle down and attuned myself to the change but how I long for the time that has been. From time to time, my parents would clean the house. My father, on the other hand, does his job at a space in our garage. But the children have enlivened another home –a home of their own. So I also followed them there – I eat and sleep there and during the day I return home to clean it and there spend my afternoon just in case our house like a living person would long for a companion.Our house becomes a place where we visit, not anymore a place where we live.
But change would always catch you anytime and sometimes there’s no worth resisting it. In fact, I never resisted the reasons why my parents practically followed them there. My sister needs help, she needs company while her husband works overseas, my parents’ too couldn’t withstand the absence of their grandchildren. I can’t either. So we’re caught between attachment and detachment and finding the fact that we cannot decide which of the two. It’s easy to detach from a thing but not from a person especially from a family.
So I need to face that time has changed and go with the flow –resisting the current would only weaken you. Be happy where you are. After all in my case the place has remained, the persons have remained and only the distribution changed. Life is a matter of accepting, coping and moving on. Besides, if God wills in the not too distant future that I should become a priest, I too will move to a home of my own. Maybe another change to cope to but I need to.
After all that’s been said, the song still holds true,
“But a house is not a home, when there’s no one there.”