Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finding Home Through Ourselves and Others

We come to establish, recognize and cherish what we call “home” through self discovery and a journey.  In Love and Longing in Bombay, the beauty of Chandra’s narratives can be found in the paradox of the individual story and the connectedness to the world around.  Throughout the stories, each character portrays a different situation, a unique circumstance that shapes a perception of home.  Many find they know themselves best while in the comfort of their home, while others feel lost and lonely in a place that has been labeled as “home.” The definition of home requires a journey within the self and a journey through the lives of our fellow human beings.
                The power of self discovery seems to surround many of Chandra’s characters. In Dharma, Jago Antia cannot find peace until he comes to know and accept the boy that he was.  With this self discovery comes self acceptance. Our past, present and future are the text of our existence and, as Jago comes to learn, one cannot simply erase parts of one’s life, but must welcome all parts in order to know oneself completely.  The life that was Sartaj’s home is filled with a bitter loneliness.  As his marriage begins to crumble, Sartaj’s wife remarks “I hate the world you live in” (151).  Part of Sartaj’s home has not been accepted by the woman with whom he built it.  Because of this, Sartaj “plunges” into his own new life of self discovery. 
                Mans’ ability and willingness to learn leads to the shaping of one’s own journey, as well as new perspective as he takes stock of his life and home.  Stepping outside of the inner narratives, we find our narrator in the company of Subramaniam, who implores his audience to “Listen” as he reveals the interconnectedness that gives depth to peoples’ lives and substance to the abstract.   We see this in the heartbreaking story of a man’s struggle with his past that arises from the trivial complaint of real estate re-sale and value.  In the frame narrative of Artha, Ayesha unknowingly asks a question that reveals the purpose of Subramaniam’s presence.  In response to Ayesha’s complaint about the dismal locales available for purchase, Subramaniam, with much deeper meaning, says, “People live….Somehow” (164). It is in this “Somehow” that we come to build our lives and subsequently, our homes.  We find our home in this life with all of its trials and triumphs and the recognition that our homes may not be safely within in our grasp, as Iqbal reveals when he laments the loss of Rajesh, “There is that glow. I know what it is. It is the absence in my heart” (228).
                Here, within the tiny nucleus of Loyola University, it can be challenging to put one’s life and home in perspective. How can we recognize the true beauty or sadness of our own home, if we do not reach out and step inside the life of another?  That is one of the wonders of living in an environment with such a contrasting community.  The chance to know is right on our doorstep.  Whenever I go into Baltimore, whether to do service or just enjoy the quirks and characteristics of the city and its people, I feel I have learned something about myself, my strengths and weaknesses and where I have come from.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

     T.S. Eliot -- "Little Gidding" (the last of his Four Quartets)

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