Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Home is Where the Heart is, So Your Real Home's in Your Chest"

Home is often found within the people in our lives. It is incredibly cliché to say, “home is where the heart is,” but most often home is not necessarily the location in which you eat or sleep but rather the love that surrounds you. Perhaps the location is connected with these people, and therefore it is called home, but the word “home” really comes from the feeling associated with that place. We might often hear people use the phrase, “a house is not a home,” and the frequent use of this lends itself to the assertion that home is not a where but a what and whom.

I was able to recognize this when I called Loyola “home” for the first time. I don’t remember exactly when this occurred or for what reason specifically, but I know that up until that point “home” had always been Buffalo, NY. This was not any connection to my house in particular, but rather to my large, adoringly boisterous family and my friends that I considered family as well. I would always call Loyola “school” or “Baltimore” when referencing being there in conversation. But one day I called it “home,” I said that I was going home or that I lived in Baltimore, that I considered it one of my homes. I knew this was from the loving relationships I had developed in this place. The city did not gain my affections, nor did the dorms or particular campus locations, at least not that strongly. My friends, a third family, had done this. And now I consider myself lucky enough to have multiple homes. But without them I know I would never be able to say “home”. If my family were not in Buffalo, would it really be that special? If I was lacking friends at school, could I praise it as anything higher than “school?” Of course not. Love is what makes a place home. And this is displayed most fittingly in Vikram Chandra’s novel Love and Longing in Bombay, particularly in the chapter entitled “Artha.”

The story “Artha” is, on the surface, a story about a disappearance, loss, and life moving on. But more deeply it can be viewed as a story about home. Iqbal is in love with Rajesh, and the two of them have a mostly secret love in the public eye, though a few of their friends know about the relationship. When Rajesh goes missing, Iqbal is devastated and searches tirelessly to discover what might have happened. He loses a piece of himself when he loses Rajesh.

Throughout the story, Iqbal spends most of his time with Sandhya, a computer programmer and the woman for whom he works. His relationships appear to be closest with her and Rajesh only, and they are the most important characters in the story. His home appears to be with them. He is confused and angry when he hears no word from Rajesh after losing him at a party. After Rajesh’s disappearance, he spends a fair amount of time wandering aimlessly or wandering in search of Rajesh. It is almost as if he is wandering in search of his home. When he is not doing this, he is at home with Sandhya. Sandhya and he have a very close friendship despite their work relationship, and when he is most lonely or in need he will go to her. He describes her mother with a slight animosity, but by the end there appears to be a quiet reverence even for the bitter old woman. There is, in fact, very little mention of Iqbal’s own home until the very end, after he finishes telling his story. He describes how he will go home to his parents’ house. In this description, however, there is love. He describes how his mother will sit with him while he sleeps. And with him there is the painting of Rajesh, a painting that brings back a piece of the home he lost with Rajesh.

In a song from the video blog/mini-movie/musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, one of the less intelligent characters sings, “Home is where the heart is, so your real home’s in your chest.” This is quite the literal statement, but in some ways it carries into this story. Your real home can go with you. It is inside of you, a part of you. You share it with the people who mean most to you, and it belongs within you. Iqbal takes this part of him home to his family, and though Rajesh is gone, and though he has an “absence in [his] heart” (228), he acknowledges that in it there is a glow placed there by his lost love Rajesh.

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