“They say home is where the heart is, but my heart is wild and free. So am I homeless or just heartless?” – beautifully written in the lyrics of the song Home by English singer, Passenger.
For months these words have baffled my mind every time I sing along to the beautiful song, or even when they just pop up in my mind in the form of a question, joining the rest of my other restless thoughts which I have no answers to.
And just now I stumble upon this written piece by Nelson Mandela, it’s probably one that many people miss or simply choose to ignore. In his UNPUBLISHED autobiographical manuscript written in prison, Mandela wrote, “I regarded the township (Alexandra) as a home in which I had no specific house, and Orlando, where my wife and children still live, as a place where I had a house but no home.” – I read this in the book, NELSON MANDELA: conversations with myself.
The question of home is one that is constantly being banged onto me. After meeting somebody for the first time, or when you finally begin to get acquainted with someone you’ve known from afar, the question is commonly asked as a form of ice-breaker, or even cheap talk, with the questioner expecting an easy answer that can be brushed quickly under the memory’s carpet.
But I find the answer quite difficult. I am writing this from the home that is provided for me by my parents, together with them I share it with my little brother, our friendly helper, and occasionally my older sister who returns home in two year intervals from Cuba where she studies.
I myself also spend limited time in this home. I study in a province on the other side of the country and only return for a combined three months of vacation time throughout the year. The tricky part is that when we moved to this home, I was in my final year of high school in the South of Johannesburg… We now live in the East. I completed that school year living with my aunt and uncle who’s home was closer to my school.
All my childhood friends remained that side and between us lies an hour of multiple public transport rides and all the costs that come along with it. I never got the opportunity to roam these streets as a youngster, so I have no friends nearby to help me settle in.
And what about my school? I’m a full-time student in a province 6 hours away from home. My daily doings, my trusted bed, hobbies and habits… I have stapled them all over there. I know I was only meant to Learn and move on, but I’ve adjusted. That life that side is much slower and I prefer that pace. I arrived there as teen, and started maturing into this.
Some personal evaluation has revealed a restless heart. Quickly caught in illusion, and in a snap I’m disillusioned. Everything that I do always feels like a “phase”. I’m wondering if it’s a sign of a shallow foundation – I never dig deep enough or order too many bricks. Never learnt to put all my eggs in one basket, so I always run short even though I have enough. The Jack of all trades but master of none.
Where is Home? Is it where I sleep or where I dream? Is it the place I pay for or where mama keeps it free? Is it where I came from, where I am or where I’m going? I need answers for home because I need a place to store my hope, I need the grace that comes with being firmly rooted, where my pathway is always routed, a place where my family tree can be rooted.