I have been thinking about this a lot. This word that is “Home”. A four letter word that has done nothing but distress me.

What is Home? I have written about this once or twice at least. I have a poem about it in my book, yet, I am still baffled by this simple four letter word. While still trying to give meaning to this word, I stumbled upon a social concept called Third Culture Kid. It almost fit into what I was looking for exactly but still not quite. To accept the idea of TCK is to claim I have moved around so much that my sense of home and belonging is warped. This makes me reconsider the idea of TCK because I have not moved around a lot. My chronic homesickness began even before I ever considered leaving home.

I often find myself in situations where I cannot help but think, “Where am I? I do not belong here”, this has happened so many times in my own home country/father’s house that it has begun to make me doubt the whole idea of attaching the word home to country, a particular location.

I watched Taye Selasi’s Ted talk yesterday, it is titled: “Don’t Ask Where I’m From, Ask Where I’m a Local” and if you have not watched it, I strongly recommend you should. It almost satisfied my question about Home, until it did not. I have decided to put the theory of TCK and Taye’s new philosophy together to give myself a better understanding of my dilemma. If I must accept home as a physical geographical location, home would be a lot of places and that removes the purity from the word. Home would be the hospital I was born in, the house we moved to, the state we moved to, the next state we moved to, the boarding school I attended, the country I moved to, my father’s house.

If you have ever noticed that you feel a yearning for home while in a place that conventionally is supposed to serve as home for you, then you my friend are suffering from a lack of home. Home for me is not just a physical place anymore. Home is a set of experiences and feelings, where I can feel and experience life the most. Home is where I am at my happiest.

I am often berated with questions and, like our people are so gracious to give, “advices” because of things I do or ideas I have. Things that are supposed to be the norm for me are often times strange and disturbing.

I am sharing an on-going search within me and outside of me. I am writing this with the hope that I will give myself some clarity towards my understanding of the word “Home”.

I read a book a long time ago. I do not remember the name but it revolved around a girl whom felt at home, for the first time, when she fell in love with a certain boy. It was the first time she did not pack up her things and leave, the moment she got bored. I a do believe that we could find home in people. My mother is home, she makes everywhere home. Whenever we travel together, she would turn the rented apartment or hotel room into as much a home as it is possible for her. Routines would not be broken and there is still that lack of boundaries that my family abides by. Yet, whenever I am at the house I grew up in, with my mother, a home on her own still in it, I get an uncomfortable yearning to take flight.

When did I last feel at home?

A while ago, if I am honest. The last time I felt at home, I had in my house, a number of people from north/east/west Africa, The middle east, Europe and we shared and evening meal together which I had cooked with lots of love and laughter.

Whenever the word home is mentioned, I picture this scene, add a few other people and experiences. My attachment to this particular event is not exclusive to the fact that it took place in my house, a place that I would conventionally refer to as home, it could have taken place anywhere and it would be just as significant and that moment would still be home. The experiences, the immense happiness I felt at that time and belonging that I felt, that is the reason behind my hold on that moment. The fact that I did not have to pretend to be someone I am not or feel like the people around me are apart from me. That is what made that event significant.

I have found home in other places too at a point in my life. I found home in a forest, in a dingy apartment on a corner street, in an olive skinned girl with curly hair, in a restaurant with my siblings and in my mother.

This does not give an understanding of what home is or where home is…or even who home is. However, I am hoping to understand things for myself. To you homesick reader, I ask: Where/Who/What is home to you?

Asma'u Shaheedah

Sometimes an Engineer, other times a writer, most times a professional friend :)


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6 Comments on "On Home: Who/Where/ What?"

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Nung Mabelle
In the past, I have written poems about home: addressing my thoughts on going “there”, the locale, and identity, which you can find on my website http://www.nungmabelle.com. I shall very much like to read your poem, which you mentioned, Asma’u !!!!! After just reading your article, I wrote another poem, and this one addresses “what is home?” for me. This is just a first draft, written like right now lol. Thanks for the inspiration. Here: My home does not exist anymore I first found it at the age of 17 and lost it before I was 20 Lost – as… Read more »
Twaambo

Home for me, is where my Mama is. If she is at her house then that is home. If she is at my house then its home. Home is tied to my Mother. Where she cooks amazing meals, gives advice, has people over.
BUT it is also where my books and music are.So I have books and music spread over her house and my house, no matter how far away we are. I can show up at mums house today with nothing but still have books, love, clothes food and music. and most of all MAMA. (

Mina Abena L.
Dear Asma’U Shaheedah, it’s interesting that I came across your article 🙂 just when I was thinking about home and belonging…When is the last time I felt at home you asked? For me it’s more about the many times I did not feel at home and still do not….and that is each time I am in an environment in which I don’t belong to. Each time I am somewhere I feel I do not fit in. I like to think of myself as being an introvert who is sociable but not social. I am passionate about passionate people, I love… Read more »
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