'Al Fajer' in the 90's
After coming back to India in 2001, we stayed over at the ancestral place – Al Fajer (which translates to dawn in Arabic) for almost 2 years, before finding our own place – “Falaq” (which roughly translates to ‘daybreak’ in Arabic.) Life began for me here (or rather I had my ‘break’ right here at this humble abode.)
The green one storey building is the home I always head back to whenever I feel homesick, when I feel like visiting my loved ones, when I feel like getting the warmth of my own bed, the green godrej cupboard and table – it’s a feeling I cannot put into words. Just a few minutes away from where we used to stay earlier, ‘Falaq’ is not the average palatial houses that gulf returnees are expected to build. It’s a modest 4 bedroom home built on just around 4.5 cents of land (that’s close to around just 2000 sq. ft.) It was bought close to late 2002 (yes, we bought a house, instead of building it from scratch.) We had sparingly any furniture, household items, not even a TV. But we at least had a roof over our heads. And we were blessed in that way.
And the transformation was magical. I was in my ninth grade, when we moved into the house. And I had joined MESRRS, Pavangad, my final school in my journey of school life a year back. But it was in ninth grade that I actually hit paydirt. I got to the other side of me – the writing guy. And did I not roll or what? I started getting into competitions – essay writing, versification, extempore, Quran recitation – what not. Moreover, I participated in even Hindi competitions (although most of my current bunch of friends find my Hindi weird and very South-Indian-ish. I tell them, hellew – what do you expect? I am from South India, Kerala to be precise.) So yeah getting back to the prime of my school days, I started making some awesome friends during my time at Falaq. One of the closest has to be Ajmal, who was like an extended family to me. I used to be more at his place than mine. Mainly because he had some awesome games and really cool cousins. I remember the time when he came over to my ancestral place and was stuck there for the night due to thunderstorms. Ajmal and me remain brothers till this day. Then, there is Vaisakh - my partner in crime and vice versa, the vice versa more so. We've had between us more than with any other friend i ever had. From his TVS Victor riding days to the Pulsar 200 days. And then there are countless others, if i were to begin here, it wouldn't end. But if it weren't for all of them, i'd not be the person i am today.
'Falaq' in the 2000's (wish i had a more fuller pic)
I remember the time when it was the tenth boards, and I had all the important charts from biology, physics, chemistry and even maths adorning the two walls of my rooms (the other two had windows on them.) I used to get up every morning, and the images of cytoplasm and mathematical equations got imprinted in my head. That was the reason why I guess, I did good for my tenth boards. I remember Mom insisting on getting a showcase in the hall in front of the dining table, because we always had a showcase when we were in Muscat. And it was built. But there wasn’t much to display. I am proud to say that, today the showcase is filled with trophies, medals and more showpieces than Mom ever imagined. Each of us in our family take pride on each and every piece in that showcase today.
We slowly started improving on the insides of our home, bit by bit, time by time. We got ourselves a TV after my tenth boards. Then we made the staircase railing wooden, we put up nice clay tiles in front of the house, Mom and me planted plants, trees, shrubs, we closed the old well and dug a new one, we built a bookshelf, we put tiles on the roof and we even bought a bigger water tank (which I still do clean when I am there. It is fun, you should try cleaning your tank at times) and I also remember the time when we got down the furniture from Muscat in a huge two piece container that my Dad sent through cargo. I remember, Dad and me going till the Kochi port to get the stuff. It was a pain in the ass to get clearance from authorities, but surprisingly, all matters were cleared by the evening, and we got ourselves a mini lorry and drove all the way up to Calicut from Kochi. We had an amazing time, going through the different districts, with Dad intermittently telling me stories about when he was young and how he actually got to Muscat. It was the second best Father-Son time I’ve ever had with Dad (the best happened very recently.) We reached home by late night, got down all the stuff, and put it in. Subsequently we got two single beds, we got the sofa set and loads more. The home that was, and the home after furnishing was fuller than ever before. It actually felt warmer.
After my plus two, in 2006, I had gone to Dubai for vacations with my Uncles and their families. To tell you the truth, it was the worst vacation of my life. Nothing can be as worse as those two months in Dubai. Maybe because I had to live with people, with whom I never before lived more than a couple of days together before. Or maybe because my Grandmother was getting on my nerves. Whatever it was, it happened, and one can’t do anything about it. There was one good thing to come out of that trip. My Mom’s brothers got me a computer, or basically all the parts of the computer when I left from Dubai. And Falaq was the place I bought it all to. It was very exciting for me, because this was actually my first real modern day computer. The last computer I owned ran only Windows 3.1 and Basic. So this was a big deal for me. And the best thing was, I called upon my chums, Vivek and Vaisakh to get it all together. We actually built the PC from motherboard to the last screw on the CPU. If you think that is easy, just try assembling a PC for yourself. We did a pretty good job at that. That computer survived for more than six years, until it was replaced with a better model just last year. I was a tad disappointed at first, coz it was just an average machine. Nothing powerful or anything. But something is better than nothing, right? So I remained loyal to my PC, and loved it like anything.
College was a whole new level of experience for me. Although I followed in the footstep of my brother, I believed to set an example of mine. Whether I did or not, I do not mind. But if I am still known as Danish’s brother, that is what matters to me. And till date, they know me as Danish’s brother, although they do know my name as well. If my brother went to college, they would ask him about me. If I went to college, they would ask me about him. That is the bond me and my brother share. There all the time, for one another. Even though I was the hot headed and black sheep of the family, my brother stood by me through thick and thin. I think this home did play a good part in that. College bought along new friends, new memories, fights, laughs, victories, embarrassments, and one of the best loves of my life – the Hero Honda Passion Plus. Alas the beauty stayed with me for just around four years. But in those four years, boy did we have fun – road trips: planned and unplanned, taxi service, late night pick-ups and so many more fun memories. That was the first vehicle of ours that stood on the tiled front porch of our home. You shall forever be missed - KL 11 Y 4658.
My relegated new room at 'Falaq'
In 2009, I moved to Delhi to pursue my Masters. It was difficult saying goodbye to Mom, to Brothers, to Friends, to Passion, to Home. But it was time. I had stayed in the nest for too long. And when I was away, Mom redecorated the room I used for more than half a decade, for my brother and his bride. I was more than happy. I was ecstatic. My stuff was moved into the small room on the side, with the ever expanding library. My bed, the godrej table and the shelf left no room at all to walk around. But I liked it. More so because it was just perfect to leave my room, as I last left it, waiting for me to get back to it. I lived in more houses than one in Delhi (which should most probably be my finale in this series. For now.), but nothing could ever make up for what ‘Falaq’ meant to me. This is the home where my friends came down to. This is the home where Ismail pulled down my pants. This is the home where a reunion meant orange food fight. This is the home where we got holed up in the worst New Year’s Eve ever. This is the home from where i sneaked out umpteen number of times. This is the home where countless parties took place. This is the home where we fell sick. This is the home where we all laughed. This is the home where my brother bought his new wife to. This is the home, that shall remain etched in my mind, as my home of homes.