Perhaps the dream of every family, and it only seems natural that it will happen. But does every house become a home? A casual query from a friend stirred me to attempt this blog.
Beyond the physical, there seems to be an abstract quality that is involved here. The home is not just an enclosure where the family sleeps or spends the day. The physical dimensions are important aspects of comfort, and safety. But the affective aspects are perhaps more important to consider here -- that quality of mirth and laughter, of food prepared with love and caring, and of its sharing within the family and with friends. Food preparation is a major asset of a home -- as they say, ‘the way to one's heart is through the stomach’.
Nowadays we have very nice houses, many of which don’t qualify to be homes. Very expensive ones but alas with no heart. Home embodies the warmth and security of the space and not merely the sterile dwelling we come to sleep every night. We are thus moved to ask - What has become of us? Million dollar houses but no homes?
What makes a house a home? My friend stuck in the gridlock of road traffic in a foreign country had these thoughts rush through his mind just the other day which inspired this blog. He must have harboured a longing lament or a pleasant anticipation. That longing for home is in each one of us, perhaps deep in our subconscious, but making it eludes the majority of us, especially in these modern times. Many of us don't even have the time to ponder over such hidden thoughts. Our private thoughts are occupied by ones that seek to know where our next dollar will come from.
When my friend posted this on facebook, opinions rushed in from all directions - from sincere to jokey responses. Common among them were the aspects of love, laughter, food and music, voiced in so many different ways. I asked myself, How many houses we live in nowadays have these? The numbers must be dwindling as we note from the stressed out kids in our schools, to the climbing numbers of divorces in our society. Something must be happening that shouldn’t be happening. What about the infectious home based laughter, the food served with love, and the sharing in homely hospitality. Yes, we see these growing in Maldives, but sadly in the wrong places. We see increasing in direct proportion our chatter and laughter with friends of feather in coffee shops and those of facebook on the ubiquitous screen. More of us now have or share our meals in restaurants - forcing ourselves into the fast-food culture even when our culture doesn’t really demand it.
It is daily fare now to witness our urban office-going crowd thronging the breakfast buffets while neglecting that warm home moment at the breakfast table with the family. And yes, we even meet close friends in the many roadside delis or posh restaurant sprouting in Male, but rarely at the house (home). In most “homes”, there’s no “fire softly burning and (no) supper on the stove”. That warmth that comes from the “closeness” or proximity or intimacy that is made possible by the enchanting environment of the “home” is becoming a rarity. Sadly it is we who have frittered away this warmth with our ways of the world we call ‘development’. Cold and competitive is the way to go our ego says -- to be better than the other person.
Many say we can't go back; then we must accept the inevitable - the further alienation of our society into one that merely lives together physically and mechanically, but are far apart spiritually. A moral degradation that will fuel the breakdown of society as we knew it.
But yet mercifully there are those with hope. I too venture to say that we can redeem the magic of the home. It happens when we can be trusting and sincere spouses, when we don't allow our egos to use our homes as edifices that display our self-importance and competitiveness in society and we begin to truly see every other person in our community as sisters and brothers. Seems like a lot and a distant trek. But it's closer than we think! It’s within reach, for it only requires something we already have within our control - our mind. Yes, its our mind – mine and yours, no one else's. We must have that much self-confidence and self-will, shouldn't we? -- to switch our thinking, and then suddenly, the world is a different place. It's like magic!!. It’s that easy to transform our world and it rests squarely on us. Each one of us. Not our leaders, not our parents, or our scholars. On us! We should try it. But for this we need some eman to begin with. Here too, as a 100 percent Muslim country we in Maldives have that blessing. I would implore everyone to bring added eman into our hearts by redirecting our intentions along the righteous path, and through imploring Allah to first put ‘noor’ into our hearts. Without ‘noor’, faith cannot enter it. Reform begins with this asking.