The morning looks hazy. I am not sure if it is the heat or the humidity rising off the earth. I throw the windows open expecting a breeze. Not a leaf is stirring. I carry my coffee under the fan hoping to catch a few minutes of me time before the kids are down. I sit on the sofa and find the leather sticky. I lower myself to the cool wooden floor. I sit cross-legged, coffee by my side, taking in the room. The wall is showing signs of age. There are smudges and fingerprints from grubby little hands. There is a fine layer of dust on the TV table. The blinds are down and the center table is to the side crammed with toys, paper, crayons, color pencils and pens. I shrug and look up. The mantel piece has three mismatched pictures. A laminated picture of Amma, Appa, Saathi and I. A silver frame with an inscription housing our first ever couple portrait. A cheap wooden frame carrying my twins at age two at school. A wooden clock with a tiny white dial.
The walls are bare. The sage green blinds are the only aberration from how the house was delivered to us by the builder. I am piqued now. The year we moved, I focused my energies on furnishing the rooms arguing that personalizing can happen later. The year after, I focused on myself and my growing belly with Laddu inside. The next year was all about the children, their school and my growing disillusionment with my professional life. The idea of transforming my house into a home fell by the wayside.
With a day to go before a friend visits us, I look around and it hits me how impersonal it all feels. The small table for the foyer, the wall decal I wanted on the bare wall behind the sofa, the family of turtles I had spied in Pier 1 for the space above the patio door. The huge metal sun sculpture I had in mind for the space above the fireplace. The wall of pictures I had in mind for the walkway from the kitchen to the dining. I look at each wall in my mind’s eye and see it differently.
I am woken roughly from my daydream by Laddu clambering into my lap and reaching for my coffee which sat cooling by my side. I rouse myself, carry her to the kitchen and get busy. Setting out cups of milk for Ammu,, Pattu and Saathi, I prep Laddu’s bottle and hand it over to her. She grabs and practically inhales the milk. I set the pan on the stove for breakfast and reach out for the ghee. The smooth contours of the cabinets have me pause. I look around again. This time I see evidence of how this house is mine. The cabinets, the counters, the sparse wood furniture, the practical blinds, the no fuss flooring, the back-splash, the ceiling fans, the cream and brown fixtures.
There may not be visible stamps on the walls and the decor that indicate how I made this house mine but it is home alright.