Home is where the heart is…
What a cliche.
I never realised it was possible to be lulled into stagnation. I have never lived in one place long enough to really feel a sense of permanence.
I broke the record though. I have been moving from house to house and city to city for as long as I can remember. I have lived in so many cities and enough different countries to feel that the entire planet is my home. I lived in Abu Dhabi, UAE for almost nine years. Those years were in a way, a bit lonely. Recently, though I made friends, I was just beginning to get comfortable.
Its funny, but I usually end up moving when I start getting comfortable somewhere.
After living in Abu Dhabi for almost 9 years, my entire married life, we had to get up and leave. Not from any choice of our own. We just had to. Don’t ask me why.
Whatever concept of permanence that had seeped into my mind, broke, like shattered glass.
I am a third culture adult, married to a third culture adult, raising third culture children. In my homeland I suffer reverse culture shock, in any other country, people ask me where I’m from, confused by the way I speak. Nationalism suffocates me. Patriotism confuses me.
And I long for a sense of belonging.
After this move, back to the motherland, I give up. The Middle East has been my home for so long but they don’t want me there. My homeland, well, I just don’t understand why a people can take pride in the very characteristics that prevent their growth. Other countries around the world may choose not to have me for many reasons, my race, my religion, my qualifications or lack thereof.
How deeply I feel, this entire planet is my home, but how hurtful it is that I am not free to roam it. When I meet others like myself, my heart does a little dance but instead of giving them the warm hug I want to, I try to shake hands without seeming crazy.
Now, while my husband and I search for new opportunities across multiple professional platforms, I sometimes hide in my room and cry.
Not because I had to leave my home, but because I feel so confused about who I am.
After hours of soul searching I’ve realised,
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
To Allah we Belong and to Him we Return
(Quran – Chapter 2 verse 156)
This phrase is associated with death and calamity so deeply, that we forget that it is simply a reminder of reality.
I should not pine for a home, because I do belong somewhere. I belong to Allah. Is that a place? No. Belonging is not tied to a location.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
(Quran – Chapter 49 Surah verse 13)
This entire idea of a homeland, has nothing to do with my emotional fulfilment. All that really matters is my relationship with my Creator and what I do with the blessings He has given me; my life, my family, my neighbours, fellow humans, this planet with all its creatures, animate or inanimate and the opportunities that come my way.
All these boundaries of race and geography have created division where there were meant to be none.
So I guess home isn’t a place then…