Writing can be quite the task, but yesterday, three thousand words flowed effortlessly onto the page, seemingly without struggle. A while back, deleting four words seemed an insurmountable challenge. Now, things seem back to their usual routine, the words flowing automatically. Despite a pounding headache today, the intention to rise and make tea is there, along with the necessity of taking medicine. Still, let this word find its place. If you’re feeling the same headache as you read this, may the page turn in your favor?
Today promises to be busy—two weeks back, the city changed, and today marks the shift from hotel to apartment. Luckily, the new place is nearby, facilitating the transfer of items without much fuss. The toothbrush, paste in hand, found its new spot effortlessly; the rest of the things don't need excessive packing.
Gone are the days of habitually unpacking the black suitcase whenever venturing somewhere new. Now, its contents stay put. A shirt is extracted, a quick tidy-up, and off we go. That suitcase feels like home—it’s the only constant, the one permanent fixture.
Goods are being relocated today, marking the transition from one roof to another, a temporary pause before the next move. These same belongings will return to that familiar suitcase, ready to roll towards another destination.
Long-time readers have witnessed our journey—it's almost like family now. For new readers, let me share that in two years, nearly six houses across two countries changed hands. Four cities hosted us, and the tally of hotels is almost a blur. Tickets were purchased as frequently as one's monthly salary. It occurred to me while writing, why not buy and hoard them for years? But what use are tickets when the destination remains unknown? What would the ticket vendor say? "Give me a ticket to anywhere."
Patriotism is curious; it strips the sense of home from one's heart. There's a realization that nowhere feels quite like home anymore. Return to your homeland, and you'll find samosas aren't the same, your mother's illness changes your childhood memories, friends are now married, children who once nursed are growing taller. Uncles can't bike to fetch almonds anymore—they're paralyzed.
The city's essence has transformed—birds vanished, dust clouds replaced the once-blue sky. Familiar roads lost their charm. The spirit of the old man from Liberty Market's chaat stall vanished with him, and Ajoka Theater's plays lost their vigor after Madiha Gohar's departure. Even the old residents relocated from the inner city to Johar Town.
The house where we once felt at ease, now, even the lock feels unfamiliar. No longer does the gate open at a touch; a bell must be rung. The person who answers doesn’t recognize us, seeking permission from her 'baji' and our mother before allowing entry. It solidifies the belief that this house is no longer ours.
Ask any stranger,
Who once knew their home,
Now, the suitcase resides where dreams are spun in a tongue we must translate to speak. Meals consist of roast chicken and buttered potatoes, unaware of adding milk to tea or the potency of a hearty laugh. They don't know the art of shedding tears openly or how to pronounce our name correctly.
Hence, wherever we go, we dub it home. They've lost the essence of what home truly means. We're unsure what 'Apnaity' signifies—is it our homeland, where no one knows us anymore, or where no one ever will? What do we truly know?
All we possess is a black suitcase. Countries change, houses change, and people change, but the heart remains steadfast. It dutifully tends to our clothes.
Wherever we tread, it feels like someone is walking alongside us, providing solace.
Patriotism is peculiar; it enriches pockets, instigates a sense of freedom, and unveils new worlds, yet, it takes away the essence of a home. And in the end, the bus clutches onto that black suitcase.