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  • Mohineet Kaur Boparai

Is There No Place Like Home?

The very question, “is there still no place like home?,” springs from the horror of not being able to distinguish between me and not me. One becomes confused about the importance of home in the contemporary world where subjectivities have themselves become complex and are defined from multifarious viewpoints. Being loaded with the paraphernalia of these definitions, one tends to shed certain burdens or realities in defining oneself while adopting others.

The journey to find a home is synonymous with migrant experience. I have come a long way from India to Canada. It has been a journey that has always been outside of my being. Impressed on it but outside, nevertheless. It is a journey recorded in photographs and documents, a journey I can document with proof. But there have been in my life undocumented journeys to find home. Journeys that have been tied to the formation of my subjectivity. These are journeys towards home too. The outer experience creates a deep seated shuffle in identity. When this experience is in some way oppressive, subjugating and intimidating, I am urged to find my answers by going inwards on a journey to find a home, to find myself and nourish my soul, wash its scars and stains. I turn to home, the home in my soul and the spatial, overt home I find comforting to reside in.

As a diasporic I find that I have several homes. These are places with their doors open. Inviting places. If you don't generalize too much you can see how these two homes, native and adopted, are both nourishing in their own way. You can find treasures in both. Canada might have seemed a site of struggle, a place where you have to search for your solace, but it is also a place that has brought me closer to appreciating difference. Here the experience of finding community is immensely nourishing. It makes one grow and develop by opening up one's life to the rest of the planet. It is a melting pot of culture but it is also a coming together of humanity. A lesson in peaceful coexistence. A mocking of the war zones around the world. It seems a beginning of a new world order, as it were.

In a world that alienates one, where life is determined by “external ‘alien’ forces, and a consequent lack of control or authenticity and oneness with oneself,” (Brooker 4) the home space becomes a binder to the past. Home is an institution that counters or prevents alienation. The home serves, here as an in-between space between a person and their identity, or between subject and subjectivity. It is also a womb like space that connects the individual to the motherland. The home space is a mother, receptacle, and the nurse. It is what is shared between the individual and nation.

The tension related to the home space is that one wants freedom, but at the same time, one wants to belong. Belonging to the home space also, ironically leads to freedom. As Leonie Sanderock points out, “I became the girl who went in search of adventure, love, and the life of the mind. I eventually found my sense of home, but I also found that it did not have to be connected to any particular place” (7). Yet another intellectual, bell hooks defines home as “that place which enables and promotes ever changing perspectives, a place where one discovers new ways of seeing reality, frontiers of difference” (148). Home is, therefore inextricably tied to identity. In a globalized world where the home space becomes diffuse, it is only but natural to seek it within and not without. If home is a part of my inner unique self, my sense of home is unlike anyone else’s. Home is important to humans as to other life forms because one seeks stability and protection to keep on living. In the case of humans, one mode of survival is through continually moulding and finding subjectivities. Home, in this sense is linked to the self. The self too is a home, a refuge, a resting place, and a safe place.

More and more, we are turning inwards for finding answers to questions of existence. Several people are turning to spirituality in the face of individuality. For them, subjectivity and spiritual knowledge are inter-linked. Spirituality is basically a mode of travel into one's soul. It is a seeking for home that takes you on a inward road to a place that was always there but remained unexplored, untouched by consciousness. This place within is a place like no other. It is an idiosyncratic home, a unique place. Since there is no place like my soul, there is no place like home.

Writing is home too, and a home where I can rest my soul in words. It nourishes my mind and lets loose my psyche. It is a place where I return continually to find treasures unknown to me. When I start writing I do not know where I will go, but I know this wandering in words is worthwhile, these journeys are written down in my soul and I must unfurl them. These are little truths and I seek them in seeking home. But this home, unlike the outside spatial home is forever opening new doors. I explore its corners and crannies, I open closets full of funny entities, I wander into the densest of gardens and find odd bird feathers, these belonging to the bird of paradise. It is a search I am compelled into, a search into home that never ends. It is a search I share with my fellow writers but is also a search where my journey may cross with theirs, but it will always be idiosyncratic.

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