Thursday, February 3, 2011

Home: Inside and Out

There is nowhere to run, nothing to hide. We’re already where we need to be; doing as we need to do. This cryptic form of speech defines a great deal of the time I spend in my homeland. As it seems to me, home is a place where our deepest most vulnerable physical, emotional, and spiritual experiences are formed. As a result, home becomes a place teeming with the energy of polarities internally and externally. So much so that, when I visit home today, I come face to face with the “big people” of my childhood and adolescence; the ones I simultaneously love and fear. These people, who have been there for some of the most powerful formative experiences of my life, have created in me the deepest attachments (the polarities) I know to date. Recently, spending a good deal of time away at college, I have been coming to terms with the attachments formed over all these years because even though most are positive, the negative ones hurt enough to desire reconciliation.
Relating back to our class discussions about what marks off home besides location, home seems to me a deeply internal place as well as an external place. Externally, especially at college, I can take my home with me using various objects, symbols, and images; but home never gets felt in any of these external markers. Home is carried along by these external markers; however, the symbols, images, and objects can only display the physical qualities of home, not the intangible (spiritual or emotional) qualities. So internally, home becomes less of a location in space and time and more of a feeling shared between beings; as seen in the interactions between a mother and a son or a brother to a brother. Internally, home is an interwoven net of relationships which hold, within its tangles, the very fibers comprising our personality and being. Personally, I believe our internal home defines us more than our external home and therefore gives us greater joy when reconciling its polarities of love and fear.
Relating back to Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay, Chandra asks his audience vital questions concerning the differences between internal home and external home. Chandra performs this arduous task particularly well in his first story Dharma. Dharma, in Indian theology, is one’s spiritual and social path; one’s duty to his internal home and his external home. Chandra, by subtly using the two names Jehangir and Jago, creates the perfect lens through which we can see both sides of the main character’s Dharma. Externally, Jago selflessly acts for his country and his people; a side of his Dharma which he accomplishes with ease. However, Chandra hints at a shadow behind Jago’s strong and powerful exterior. Jago himself expresses discomfort and unease when his exterior life comes to an end and he is left to face his internal life. Chandra, I believe, raises an important question by starting Jago’s story at its end: Which home is more important for the growth of an individual? I would argue Jehangir’s internal home contributes more to his growth as an individual because the healing which occurs by Jehangir facing the, literal and metaphorical, ghost of his past. In the external world, his duty calls him to sacrifice himself physically in order to be able to lead his men to victory; and awarded him with many titles, names, and achievements which contributed to his external home. In the internal world, Jehangir’s duty calls him out of his external life to face the relationship he had with his younger self. In the end, it is his internal challenge which rewards his efforts by restoring the balance to his life. By sacrificing his fears naked and alone, Jehangir is able to reclaim a lost home and gain peace.

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