It amazes me when I realize its been twenty five years since this house was built. It looks like it has existed for much more. And after all these years of being its owner, I am finally handing it over to someone that I hope would take better care of it. I can only hope the new owner would understand how precious this house has been to me, to a few others who lived here in the course of time and in general, warm and cozy to many that chose to seek shelter.
I take a walk slowly, taking care to tread gently lest I disturb the memories that seem to linger in every crack and crevice, nook, corner and dust swirl. I wonder about the things this house has seen, people it has observed, weathers it has braved and silence it has borne. The signs show. I’ve been a very erratic caretaker. I’ve renovated this house multiple times but never completely. It was always about fixing a temporary crack, or weak pipelines or a new coat of paint.
There was this one time when an entire wing collapsed and I had to come down personally to oversee the reconstruction that turned out to be very expensive. I was advised against spending so much to fix a lost cause but I knew I wanted to. This was my house and it was my way of covering up for the guilt behind having neglected it long enough to collapse, in the first place.
This house will always remain close to me for it was built when I was born and I developed an intimate friendship with it as I grew up. I know its layout like a drawing out of an anatomy book. I’ve been to every part of it, explored every room and staircase. It has so many warm corners to lounge in and a huge terrace where I used to sit and dream of conquering the world. It reminds me of those old houses you see down the countryside, enormous and tough, built with utmost taste and pride.
There are parts of it that are bright, where the sun doesn’t have to figure out an entry. There are also parts of it that are dark, spots that were perfect for childhood mischief and storing truckloads of secrets, but ones that I’ve long stopped visiting. As a child, you don’t understand the meaning of fear but as an adult, fear scares you and the fact that you can sometimes not understand why, terrifies you further.
There are so many paintings on the wall, procured from time to time, pictures I’ve loved and cherished, things that I request renters to retain. When they don’t relent, I have them moved to one of those many rooms that they are never to open, by written contract. With a house as huge as this, I can’t quite empty out all archives everytime someone moves in and logically, they won’t need so much room anyway.
Like the house, I’ve seen good renters, bad and worse. I guess it comes with the ownership. There were some that took great care, retained my tasteful décor and added to make it better. Some suggested changes that made a corridor more beautiful or created more space and light. I took them sometimes and they never protested when I didn’t. They treated my house like they would treat theirs. I always grew sad when such renters moved away. There were also ones that caused mayhem and billed me for damages! I didnt’t think twice about kicking them out but one thing that I am not proud of is my lack of judgement with such kind of renters. I kept renting out the space to similar people quite often.
I heave a deep sigh as I take another look at the house. It looks simple and compact from the outside but there are just so many levels on the inside that you could only discover by exploration. My gaze falls on this long crack on the wall opposite, that runs like a scar borne out of deep circumstances. I run a hand over it and remember working on it a while ago to fix it. I had succeeded in concealing it under a fancy new shade of paint but ever since talks about the new deal began, the house has come under intense scrutiny. Bad spots revealed, bright spots taken stock of, weak links and strong links noted, foundation tested and even some of the unopened rooms opened and studied.
I can’t really complain because, like I said, I’ve been a lousy care taker, despite loving the house so much and it needs a fresh breath of life. The new owner is nice and considerate. I chose him out of all others interested because he seemed to know about handling houses and my gut told me I could trust him.
* * *
I handed over the keys this morning and shook hands with the new owner. His sincere smile boosted my confidence a little higher. I took one final look at my house and walked on.
* * *
My husband got in beside me and we drove on. I leaned in on his shoulder and he accommodated me in his arms. With the heavy weight of being a caretaker, off my chest, I proceeded to fall into a well-earned, deep sleep, free of worry and trouble as he stroked my hair. The new owner of my house - my heart.
Image courtesy : http://flanaganrealty.com/2011/02/home-is-where-the-heart-is-happy-valentines-day/