My younger sister, in the sunken gardens at home in the early sixties.
Growing up in India, was so different from living in this country. My mother came from an aristocratic family of the Deccan plateau in India. We lived well; the house was great. Life in general was good. Every time my parents went out for the evening, leaving us behind with the servants, we used to make such mischief at home that the servants would go crazy. But the minute we would see the headlights coming through the gates, we would sit quietly on the sofas, pretending to be angels. Mom would enter the parlour first, and hugging us, she would say, ” it is so good to be home. I missed you kids.” They would be gone only for a couple or three hours. She would always say that. She never commented about our flushed faces or the reek of sweat from our bodies. “Coming into your own home, feels like there is no other place like this on earth. My humble home is so much more comfortable than the Pudukotta Palace we just visited.” Words like that made me wonder many times if my mother was normal.
Our home was not small by any stretch of imagination, but next to a palace, it seemed like a hut to me. She would also say, “when you children grow up and have your own homes, you will realize how even a two room hut would seem like a palace When I came to this country in the mid sixties, I left behind my home; my things, my flowers, my beautiful sitar that I played, and above all my family and friends. We rented a small single bedroom apartment in south St. Louis. It was on the third floor of a seedy looking building. I did not know how to cook. (That’s another story for another time.) So I started experimenting with vegetables and meats. Found some friends at the hospital, and we started hanging out with them. It was then, when I remembered my mother’s saying. Every Friday or Saturday when I was not on call we would go visiting friends, and at the end of the evening, when we returned to our small apartment, I felt like I was crossing the threshold into my own palace.
This is where my heart was. This was a feeling of belonging. There was comfort and peace in this little place. This was my home. Now, my children have their own beautiful homes, but whenever they come here, especially Sayeed who used to live away, he makes my heart swell with pride when he would say, “Mom I love coming home!”
Home really is where the heart is. The feeling is overpowering and is very blessed. It is not a material thing that has to do with what you have. It’s a feeling. Like a warm blanket covering your cold feet on a winter night; like the roaring fire in the hearth that warms your heart, and makes you smile. These feelings describe to me what a home really is.
This is circa 1960 I think. Taken with my parents and my younger sister in one of the rooms. You see me in the dark sari.
Seated from left, my brother in law, who was a pulmonologist, my sister expecting her second son, mother, father with my sister’s first born and my brother’s baby in his lap, and my sister in law. Standing from left, my brother Akhtar, about him I have written much on xanga, he lives in Dubai, my younger sister, who resides in Fort Lauderdale Florida, yours truly home on some holidays from the medical school, probably around 1962, and my older brother who was a physician and passed away in 1992. Only the three of the five children that my parents had, are still alive. Thought you might like seeing some photos from home.