When reading Artha, I started thinking more and more about the different ways we identity what home means to us individually. It can be geographical, an object, a person. Almost everyone in this short story is defined by another person that they consider their “home.” For Sandhya, it’s Anubhav; For Anubhav, it’s himself; For Iqbal, it’s Rajesh. The only person whose home is geographic is Rajesh, who longed for an apartment and normal life. That apartment was what he considered his home. I think as we grow older, we individually realize that the concept of “home” can mean so many different things. These characters just happened to focus on their relationships more than anything else. I found this to be interesting because I feel like this doesn’t necessarily become the primary representation of one’s home unless those that are “home” are family members or spouses. I think Chandra portrays a lot of unhealthy attachments and ideas of “home” in this short story with some perspective but no easy answers.
The idea of “home” being one person is a representation that I personally find silly. I have attachments to people in my life that I would consider a part of me, or people that have shaped my identity, but people in general tend to be unpredictable and skittish. They come and go of their own free will; relying on any one person to be your everything is risky, messy, and often never turns out positively. This is often a lesson we learn as adolescents growing up all the way to adulthood, which is why I found it surprising in all of the previously mentioned scenarios. People with established careers are being dependent on their significant other in order to feel success, balance, and happiness. We see that Anu really only cares about himself and manipulates Sandhya into the woman he wants. Sandhya is so devoted to Anu that she doesn’t even see that she’s been manipulated. She has been transformed by her divorce and Anu’s artistic lifestyle and acts accordingly. The argument can also be made that Iqbal is Sandhya’s home because he’s the one that actually takes care of her, whether it’s physically, mentally, or emotionally. Iqbal is devastated over Rajesh’s disappearance, which would be normal for any significant other to experience, but it’s to a point where it consumes him.
If “home” is going to represent a person, I think it’s a natural feeling but should be one that is full of love and independency simultaneously. These people provide comfort, but there should also be a distance in order to live. Because we’re human, we’re going to form bonds to people in our lives, that’s obvious and inevitable. My reaction to Artha is that it showed the negative effects of loving and trusting too easily or for the wrong reasons. The concept of “home” is to instill peace, comfort, happiness, love, safety, openness, and balance. Chandra’s story depicts dysfunction and instability when things go wrong; life makes you struggle in order for you to know who you truly are and what your place is.
Our ideas of “home” are going to be challenged, and when you give that title to people, the more unstable life will be. In order to understand home, I firmly think that there needs to be a sturdy foundation within oneself before attributing our lives to someone else. People influence us, but in the end, we are left to rely on ourselves. We can only look back on what we’ve learned from those people and figure out how to apply it us. That’s how I understand the connection between “home” and the possibility of people representing that concept. I don’t think it’s thought of too often, which is why dysfunction and instability are a common reaction to putting individuals in that position. I think Chandra was making this point with the relationships in Artha.