- Posted October 21, 2013 by
Reading, United Kingdom
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
A distant home
My place of residence is Reading, in the UK. My place of birth is Nairobi in Kenya. Yet neither Reading nor Nairobi is home to me. Then where is home? Ideally home should be Nairobi. Have I ever been to Nairobi since I left in 1969? No never.
For a start, the city of Nairobi is now a different place to what I knew of it back my early years up to 1969. Then came the bitterness against traders of Asian origin, and the exodus of Asians began. My parents were not traders in any sense, but they left the country at that time taking me and my younger brother along. My brother was quite self-composed about leaving Kenya forever. Not me. I felt an inner anguish and grief at leaving the country I grew up in. I wept all the way from the city to the airport. Without knowing exactly why, I continued to feel the painful sense of loss on going up to the British Airways plane that was waiting for us at Kenyatta airport.
We arrived in the UK where I felt the cold winds hit my face, and I immediately felt somewhat distant from all the people in the UK. I still do. Throughout the approximately forty years I lived in the UK, I have never quite felt at home. Thus Reading in Berkshire UK is not the home in my heart however much it is my place of permanent residence.
Then where is home? Many people here in the UK stubbornly ask whether I have been “home to India”. True, my father grew up in India but my father himself was pure Iranian (known then as Persian). As regards people from India, they are polite to me broadly speaking. But they all talk to me in English, like someone foreign to their country, without being rude about such an implication. I notice they never hesitate to speak in Hindi or Punjabi to people from their bordering Pakistan.
Could home be Tehran? Perhaps, but that would be difficult to settle into as home in any real sense. My grandfather had fled the country back in the 1900’s or so, and it would be next to impossible to trace any next of kin in Iran.
Then where is my home? I can only say Nairobi, Kenya. Home is Forest Road in Nairobi in Kenya, even though due to nationality issues, I cannot return to that city. Nairobi, Kenya is home for me, even though the Kenyan government frequently abandons its own citizens. (The BBC found displaced Kenyan citizens within that country’s own borders only a few years ago). Nairobi, Kenya is home for me even though it is infiltrated by the extreme Islamic insurgents who recently attacked the city mall.
Where is my home? Not Reading, where I live now. Not Hapur in India where my father grew up. Home is still Nairobi Kenya.
By Hasan Abdulla, in Reading, UK