Until recently, large bungalows made me nervous. Having lived most of my life in the secure enclosures of flats, the individuality evoked by a mansion was lost on me. Life in a big city has a certain obscure air to itself and perhaps the flats dotting the cities are it’s most powerful symbols. A person’s house is their oasis, mirroring their deepest attributes and loves; a haven for them and their children. But from the outside, it is just a tiny little box, cramped between millions of others; all identical and soulless to a passerby.
When I was a child, my mother talked fervently of the house she was born and grew up in. She grew up in a little village, in a large family and an even larger house. Such is the pull of that house that she becomes a little girl again at the thought of revisiting her first home, even after almost three decades of leaving it. When I visited it as a child, I used to be flummoxed as it came nowhere near my urban, ignorant definition of a house. To me, it looked like just a series of rooms bordering a massive courtyard. I had never seen a house not bound together by walls or a roof and genuinely found it strange. Years later, when I stopped visiting the house and my summer memories were all I had left, I realized how beautifully the courtyard brought the house together.
That house, the sentinel of my mother’s childhood now stands in ruins; its occupants having long deserted it in search of a better, more vibrant life. Perhaps, I was too late in appreciating the charms of an expansive house in a quaint little place. I really wish for it be to be renovated for its a shame to watch it lose the battle with time. To me, that house characterized a certain kind of bigheartedness; as if the house welcomed me with outstretched arms. With a spacious porch at its entrance and an immense courtyard at its heart, that house is just not meant for a life behind closed doors. It is instead meant to host a large, boisterous family; entertain their constant chattering, capture their peals of laughter, seal the aroma of family recipes. If it were up to me, I would convert the house into a vacation home; a place where my parents would look forward to visiting and reuniting with their brothers and sisters. It would be a crime to not use the courtyard to its fullest. If I were in charge of that house, I would pass a law to always have dinner in the courtyard, under the country sky and infinite stars. I would set up a large dining table for this. I would also set up cots in the courtyard for star gazing afterwards. I would keep the rest of the place as rustic as possible, doing justice to its surroundings and my mother’s childhood. I wish I could renovate that house and convert into a fantastic getaway and a reunion spot.
I am rereading “Love in the Time of Cholera” these days and as usual being hopelessly drawn into Marquez’s eccentric and magical world. I somehow relate my mother’s first home with Marquez’s universe. For the house seems to elicit a degree of quirkiness; firmly rooted in the past and flaunting its curious hues. As that timeless edifice crumbles today, it does leave warm memories in my heart which I will remember for as long as I can. Or as Florentino Ariza said, “Forever”.
Written in response to Daily Prompt – Reviving Bricks