The pictures, associations and the memories that the word” home” brings to my mind are our ancestral house — as it was when we were growing up — the banyan and ficus trees, the village temple, the not-so-distant hillock, the rainy days as seen from the pyol, the raising of dense, bluish smoke from the country tiled houses at five in the evening after the heavy rains followed by a clear sky during the monsoon season giving the entire place an unnatural glow, and, of course, the heat in the summer when nothing moved from about twelve or one in the afternoon till about three! This is in spite of my not having stayed for more than a couple of weeks there in the past fifteen years or so, and, in spite of the fact that but for the physical structure the place, the people and the culture does not seem all that familiar to me anymore! And, homes are places like that — places that exisit in ones mind with such clarity that the reality gets blurred under their influence. In the latest issue of Outlook, there are several piece on this theme; the ones by Mukul Kesavan and Mark Tully, I found to be the best among the offerings.
While we are on the topic, the essay by A R Venkatachalapathy’s in his book In those days there was no coffee in which he has several interesting things to say about the way the hometowns were remembered in some of the early Tamil autobiographies (which essay, I accidentally read at about the same time as these two) is also a nice read; in fact, I had a feeling that had excerpts from Chalapathy’s essay be published in Outlook to serve as an introduction to these pieces, it would have made e collection complete and satisfying.