Nimrat S Sidhu
WE were on a house-hunting spree recently. After a frantic search, we stumbled on the perfect house — right next to my father’s workplace. With the deal sealed, we stepped inside the house once more to visualise the changes we wanted to make.
It was a modest house, built over three decades ago, redone a while back. I assumed that a large family had once called this place home, filling its rooms with laughter, love and cherished memories. While going from room to room, my eyes caught sight of a wall. On it, the family had marked the height of their three children as they grew up. It was as if the wall held the secrets of an entire chapter of their lives — their children’s growth from infancy to teenage. The last measurement had been made 20 years ago.
I tried to imagine what the parents must have felt while selling the house for the sake of their children who were residing abroad. The wall now mirrored their emptiness and the bittersweet weight of responsibility.
While the wall would now be repainted, the years their children spent in India decades ago would remain etched in their parents’ memory. The only constant in life is change, they say. But there’s something we can hold on to irrespective of the place, things and situations we are in and those are the memories we create to make us sail through colourless and gloomy days.
Migration is a double-edged sword. It leaves both sides maimed — the parents who send their kids off with a smile, yet with a heavy heart and an earnest hope in their eyes that they will return to their nests or else take them along, and the kids who fly away in the hope of a better, brighter future.
What that one wall taught me in a couple of seconds was so profound yet so basic. It taught me various dimensions of love — patience, hope, perseverance and, of course, being unconditionally pure in one’s thoughts and feelings. It is this hope that unites us beyond borders. It is the hope that acts as the perpetual light in the midst of darkness. And then it is love that makes us cross hurdles, leap fences, penetrate walls and never recognise any barrier.
I remember poet Surjit Patar’s lines: ‘Jo videshaan ’ch rulde ne rozi layi, Oh jado desh partan gaye apne kadi, Kujh tan sekan gaye maa de sev di aggan, Baaki kabraan de rukh heth jaa baith gaye, Das kehda dukh wada, na tera na mera…’(Those who chase mirages in alien lands shall come back one day; a few would get to warm their hands by their mother’s pyre, a few would only get to sit under the trees by the graves. Whose grief is greater? Neither yours nor mine).
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