Reflections on Home: Exploration of a fallacy

Jo’burg will make you cling to every single one of your gods. Every one of your spiritual guides, your ancestors, your vices. You’ll create rigid rituals for security and not even realise you’re doing it – but by then it’s too late. Routine has destroyed your delight.

***

There was a time – imaginary – when the air was clean, the streets were empty and you were content in flowers blooming and the stillness of nature. The church was a sanctuary, for even a Hindu like you. You go to your place for two seconds too long, and you realise that that place was never your home because it never existed – not outside your head at least.

***

“So, how is Jo’burg treating you? How’s the city?”

“Well, I’m new here.”

***

My bouts of spirituality come like a yawn or a sneeze – a bodily reaction to my environment. And when the environment is concrete and piss and “hey mami” and shouting and endless amounts of work that could make even Kafka cry – only your ancestors can help. And like in any unhappy home, the elders know how to provide a safe space and protection. Because they’ve been through worse.

***

Home is not…


A person

A place

Comfortable

Fixed

In this realm

***

Don’t get me wrong. There’s no shame in feebly grasping at the idea of home as a form of comfort and nostalgia. The world is frightening, confusing and a little too dystopic these days. When it all becomes too much for me, I visit my aiya. I smell her baby powdered body and smile as she turns salt for me at the doorway. She’s a quiet, heavy presence. She’s making cabbage curry and rotis with just a pinch of sugar. It’s a windy day. The dust specks fly around the house and as they settle, I walk around. She’s burned temple incense and I know it’s time for prayer. We go to the room: light the lamp, kneel, pray. We leave with ash on our foreheads. She shouts at the cat (she thinks it’s evil but loves it nonetheless) and then we eat. She runs me a bath as I put the dishes away. As we get ready for bed, we gossip. I try on all her jewels and perfumes and play dress up. She says I look like her mother when she was younger. I massage her hard, bony hands and paint her nails. “Thank you,” I say. “You never need to thank me. You are enough thanks as you are,” she replies.

***

Home is a borderland, a conflicting zone. It’s where we learn things to unlearn. Don’t worry if home is painful. Make another one.

Youlendree Appasamy writes for various platforms including Ja magazine, where this piece was first published

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Youlendree Appasamy
Youlendree Appasamy
Youlendree Appasamy is a freelance writer and journalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Advertising

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members
Advertising

Press Releases

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

Openview, now powered by two million homes

The future of free-to-air satellite TV is celebrating having two million viewers by giving away two homes worth R2-million

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday