Ever gone into a balcony of your home and gazed across at the high rises of the society?
Ever gazed out at the rows of houses as you speed across in a bus or car?
The urban houses, rural houses, large houses, small houses, old traditional houses, majestic homes, dilapidated houses, new swanky homes, terraced houses, thatched roof houses?
Each house seems to say a story.
There are Homes symbolic of powerful residents, awe-inspiring homes, creepy homes, beautiful warm lovely homes, broken homes, sunny and bright homes.
I gaze at them. Try to read their inner story. If, you observe it long enough an impression emerges.
Here’s how it started for me.
There was a 2 storey home adjacent to my home. Every time I scurried up on my terrace and looked right, there it was smiling at me. How? It puzzled me. Why do I feel it is smiling at me? It took me several months to piece it together. The house had a thatched roof with windows equidistant and had a slightly curved beam on the outside wall under those windows. Two windows looked like eyes and the curve a smiling face. Bingo! The house was just a delight. This triggered my interest in gazing at homes and listening to them. that’s when I realised that the silent walls were whispering the stories about generations that it had housed. Their laughter, joy, sharing, caring, pain, struggles all witnessed and absorbed. Peeling paints, broken fence, weed-grown gardens, manicured lawn…Juliet balconies, open terraces, closed balconies, all bespoke volumes. Hence began my journey of listening to them.
It turned into an interesting mind game. I excitedly started to look at houses. Big, small, unique, gated, (strained my neck to take a peep). And lo behold! I began to grasp the impression they created. Majestic, worn out, lonely, some bearing the brunt of time, fighting against being taken down. Some stood lonely on a distant hilltop, some amongst the fields, few mud houses, thatched roof huts…
These houses also give us a clue about the people it houses. How? Well…
Ever gazed at the clothesline? Those drying clothes give us a lot of insight into residents. Dark colour, light coloured, bright coloured. Now, let’s see- yellow for Communication, blues for vastness, green for prosperity, light colours, mild, quiet personality, loud bright coloured perhaps they’re loud and boisterous, pushy and dominant..? Wants to be heard? Clothes hung neatly- a meticulous person, haphazard- either in a hurry or perhaps doesn’t care about cloth drying ritual. Fun isn’t it?
The challenge was manifold in apartments. Identical. Just square boxes. Nothing vintage about it. All the doors are tightly shut on your own floor. The impression was… stay out! Till I began noticing the decorated doors and walls of the part of the hall that belonged to them.
A neat home, practical home, a no-nonsense home, joyous homes, forlorn homes all is depicted at the entrance leading to the apartment.
Of course, all Indian homes welcomed you with a deity. A quaint Ganesha, which might be colourful or metal one. The traditional ‘shubh’ ‘labh’, either a sticker or written in ‘kumkum’. And a Swastik. Carved wooden door-well rich. A nameplate decorative, huge, flashy, wooden, simple, eye-catching? And here’s how you decipher the clues. If decorative, you can be sure of an artistic, creative, abode. If expensive, exclusive, handicraft piece probably an architect was hired for the interiors.
Flower Pots, shoe stands, decorative wall hangings even before you enter the house is a promise to entering a lovely home. A humorous hanging on the side wall the owners are tongue in cheek, devil may care, happy and easy going, a namaste mould, sober, serious, good hosts or.. may not be. They might be hiding their displeasure of guests under that polite decoration. The decor artefacts tell us if, the home is a neat home, amp nonsense brisk household, a tastefully decorated home or just four walls behind which people are living in day to day frenzy or a little bit of all of the above.
If, you look above overhead in the waiting passage, where there’s a bulb you will see just a bulb or maybe a lampshade on that bulb. This showcases the taste of lighting of the owners. You might find plenty of lampshades as the owner enjoys the ambience in his/her house.
Of course, there are forlorn homes too. Most saddening and depressing.
They look so forlorn that when you ask around you find that both husband and wife are working or the owners are not in town. Or there is an old couple residing in them. You can sense silence. The outside of the door has a light bulb but, no shade. A welcome mat which gives you an impression of having put there because of its practical need. Very minimal outside decor. A sense of shutting out or shut in.
Last… abandoned homes, manors, castles. They speak the loudest. History is stored in each brick. They stand there majestic, waiting for persons, family to move in and bring them alive. To be alive and be part of the present. To shelter, hear the running footsteps of happy children striding along with changing lifestyles. These are the silent witnesses of a life lived by our ancestors.
Look at houses – the homes. Our homes. I think it knows you. It lives with you. The walls absorb our feelings. We can hear our laughter and conversations when we leave home. A last look and scenes flash before our eyes. These homes are the silent witnesses of lives that have happened there. They bear our secrets, give us comfort and witness our struggle. Our homes are our memory chips. It absorbs and stores them safely. Each home is a personality of ours!