While clearing his bag of old papers to be thrown away, my father found this old envelope. Before I could stop him, he tore it into two. It carried our old Srinagar address. I kept it
Last month my father packed his bags from Delhi NCR and moved back to Jammu. Fourteen years ago, I wasn't there when he moved in, and I wasn't there when he moved out. While moving in, none of my stuff had to be moved in but while moving out, he had to pack seven cartons of books collected over my seven year stay in the city.
Once the news of unpacking was passed on, my mind was caught in a strange mathematics. My grandfather spent a major portion of his life at that Srinagar address, about 65 years. At no other place did he live for a longer duration. So did my father, about 35 years. And weirdly enough, so did I, about 8 years. I haven't stayed at a single place for more that 8 years. Right now, Chattabal is still the place were I have spent a major portion of my life.
Today I effaced my house number
the name of the street at the outset.
I wiped away the directions of every road.
And still if you must search me out
just knock at the door
in each street of each city of each country
it's a curse, a benediction both
and wherever you find a free soul
- that's my home!
Amrita Pritam, translated from Punjabi by the poet.
From - 'India: An Anthology of Contemporary Writings' (1983), Ed. by David Ray and Amritjit Singh.