Literal: O! sweet home. I shall sacrifice thousand homes to you, never to leave your door. There is an old Kashmir saying, Shayi Chukhi Zi Jayi Chukho, if you are at the home, you are in the safest palace.

In simple words, it denotes the love everyone has for his/her home so much so that one does not find so much comfort & happiness in thousand other homes as one has in his/her own home.

One does not consider thousand houses even worth one’s own home. So, it is that love for one’s home that one does not want to go away from it. One wants to be always near his home & family.

“Amid pleasures & palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there is no place like home” in the world, J H Payne’s famous lines. Wherever our destiny takes us in life, it is always the home which is close to our heart.

Homesickness also springs from the nostalgic home feeling & attachment. It is expression of natural human feeling & tendency to feel always at home within one’s home & with family.

Home gives a sense of safety & security which is real in terms of its application with the home. Its appropriate English equivalent is East or West; home is the best, which appeared in English literature in second half of the 19th century.

First time in 1859, an Anglophone linguist & translator, Kelly [d.1867] while compiling the proverbs in different languages used the proverb in English about affection & feeling of home.

French & Italian near to equal idiom is: “To every bird its nest is fair”. If a bird is taken hundreds of miles away, it will find its way back. “East & West, at home the best: goes translation of German proverb, “Ost und West, daheim das Best”, writes Kelly.

“The reek of my own house,” says the Spaniard, is better than the fire of another’s.” “The same feeling is expressed with less energy, but far more tenderly, in a beautiful Italian proverb, which loses greatly by translation:”

Home, my own home, tiny though thou be, to me thou seemest an abbey.” In the Italian language, there are two other analogous proverbs viz: “My home, my mother’s breast” & “Tie me hand and foot, and throw me among my own, “ Kelly adds.

It may not be out of place to mention here about a correlated interesting episode of pre-colonial days of the subcontinent. In the context of the countries that were likely to emerge & shape up in post-colonial period of India & Middle East, there is an interesting episode of pre-1947 days.

There was a Kashmiri who was mentally disturbed by drawing unnecessary comparison between small & big countries and swayed by the enormity of size and shape of the big ones.

One day, he met & asked a wiseman: If we have a country of our own, it will be a small, tiny country, geographically & topographically, I mean, & isn’t it better to merge with some big country of the world. The wiseman responded:

“East or West, home is the best, you have to remember! It is always better to have & live in one’s own home even if a shanty-hut than to rely on & live in the palaces of others which will be always having their royal eyes & guards there to watch & control your free movement”.

There is an old Afghan Pashto proverb about the beauty of Kashmir which everyone desires to have at home. Har châta khpal watan kashmir de. Its translation goes like this:

“To everyone his home is Kashmir — i.e., very good”. But, younger generations of Afghanistan feel proud of the “barren lands” of their country over lush green forests of the valley.

There are other proverbs related to home. They are: Gharih Ghate Te Mashidi Tchong which literally means darkness in home but light in the masjid. It connotes the idea of being miser & hard with the family, at home, but spendthrift & liberal with others, away from home.

Bad to one’s own, good to others, outward show but miserly at home, what is the utility of such show of goodness? There is a Hadith from the Holy Prophet [PBUH] that poor relatives should be given preference in distribution of Zakat which is obligatory in Islam. Its Western equivalent is charity should always begin at home.

In Kashmiri, an old idiom is, Bechin Iza, Te Putlin Puza, which literally means distress to the family-members, offerings to the idols. In English, it is, darkness in the hearth, while light in the church.

One should always practice his being liberal, kind & good at home with family members first & then he can be being so with others, as well. Gode Gov Panas Pate Genzravnas is its equivalent in Kashmiri.

What home means can be better explained by the homeless people who wander from place to place without a permanent abode of comfort for living.

The home is the fruit of a lot of struggle, labour, time, energy & money spent on its realisation which is like a dream coming true over period of years for most of the middle & lower-middle class people who raise it over several years.

Home is one among the basic needs of human beings. Many homes are lost to the vis major, the irresistible & inevitable acts of God, like floods & earthquakes.

Mysterious fires & conflagrations in the valley these days, & destruction of built-homes by bulldozers in Palestine & elsewhere, have reduced many homes to the ashes of tragic sadness & with that, the owners’ hard acquired possessions, valuables & other chattel have been completely destroyed in the blazes of the fires & conflagrations, & the blades of the State-bulldozers.

It is said that the State owns houses but not a home. Home is private enterprise. It is shocking & devastating for the victims who only know the pangs of losing homes that were built over decades and that valued emotionally much more than physical estimations of the loss.

Physical loss can be measured but there is no scale to measure the loss of emotions, hopes & dreams one attaches with one’s home. According to the reports of local Dailies, 560 Crore property has been damaged in fire incidents in last six years in Kashmir [KO 30-04-22] of which 2.5 billion rupees property has been lost in just first three months of 2022 in 146 fire incidents across Kashmir[RK 6-4-22].

A house has a corporeal existence. A home is much more than a physical entity. A house is built by bricks, stones & cement but a home is built by hearts, love & care. “Home is not merely four square walls…..Home is where affection calls.” (Charles Swain). Past-life was simple & honest, unlike today’s life fraught with excessive show off & ritzy inclination.

People lived in joint families with contentment about whatever little they had before the modern nuclear-families replaced them with unending farce competitions & mad race for insatiable accumulations.

People took pride in saying: My home may be small but my heart is big enough to accommodate many for a sound sleep which millions crave for in this age!

Courtesy : M. J. Aslam

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