It’s been a long time coming, but it only hit me now – and it’s given me much to think about; with sadness and longing – because I’ve always been very sentimental about the past.
Let me explain: For the last 12 or so years, I’ve lived in Cape Town. But I was born and raised in Durban. It’s my home city – the place I grew up in, and where I got my education. The place of my childhood memories – those sunny Durban days where everything was so relaxed, and there was no responsibility and no worry. Just innocence…play….childhood.
But over the last 12 years, we’ve still had a family home in Durban. There was always a place to stay – a home of our own – when we went back. We never had to stay at our relatives’ homes, or live in hotels. We always had our own home there. A home filled with our furniture and belongings; old photographs; wall hangings; even our own atmosphere. It was home. It was my other home. And my heart was – and still is – so dearly attached to it.
Now that home is about to become history. We’ve sold it.
And while that doesn’t technically sever my ties with Durban (since I have so much family there still), to me, it is the end. Because if I go back now, it’ll be as a visitor. It won’t be to my home – my family home.
My memories of that particular home – which was in reality the fourth home I’d had in Durban in my life – begin when I finished university. We moved in at the end of that year, amidst boxes and boxes of stuff, lots of stress, and my personal sadness at saying goodbye to my previous home – the house I’d spent my teenage years and parts of early adult life in.
It was one of the saddest periods of my life, both for personal reasons, as well as the uncertainty of my future (I’d just graduated, but had no idea what I’d be doing the next year – for no job offers had come by that time).
And the sadness did continue for some years after that; although it was mixed with enjoyment – because that home was a place I’d go on holiday, and have no work to do. I loved that aspect of it. The feeling of being there in the festive season each December – when things were relaxed, people were on holiday, and there was usually a cricket Test match being played at Kingsmead (where, very often, bad light would stop play early).
The days and nights were hot and humid, and the nights often brought multitudes of lightning flashes – which I had never really noticed in my teenage years; but did notice now that I had an expansive view of part of the area.
I’d get to eat the foods I loved from Durban; I’d get to frequent the neighborhood I spent so many years in; I’d spend time with family; I’d get to go to Jumuah in the masjid I knew from my teenage years – but now being so much more spiritually mature compared to back then.
I’d get this awesome view from that home – looking out over the city and Indian Ocean; being able to see the golden lights of the harbor at night; the Bluff; and the hills on one side that concealed the area where I used to go to High School.
At night, the experience was both exhilarating and scary – looking out into the dark night at the city and ocean, and sky above – sometimes cloudy and overcast. I felt like I was up in those clouds – far from earth. If I closed my eyes, tilted my head up, then opened my eyes again, it was like there was no Earth below – there was only sky. Wide open, cold, vast, immense sky. It was at times like those when I felt so tremendously close to my Creator. Being physically removed from my usual home and life in Cape Town, I’d be in that place – at that window – able to reflect on so many things; and able to speak to my Lord in ways that were so unconstrained by the mental chains that would often drag me down in other environments.
It’s moments like those that I treasure so much. Moments that no material thing in the world could ever come close to. Moments that, nowadays, have become so few and far between.
And in one of those moments, I made a dua for the next time I’d be there: that, the next time I come to this home, I wanted to be married. Alhamdullilah – sure enough, the next time I went (2 years later), I was married, and my daughter was tucked safely in the womb, still in the early stages of her development.
But life has moved on so much since then, and things are so different. I have my own family now; and a whole life that’s so far away from Durban – both in time and physical space.
Still, though, my heart is tremendously attached to Durban. I love it dearly, and it’s always been – and always will be – a big part of me.
And it’s sad to say goodbye; but goodbyes are a part of life. I’m grateful to have had the life – the experiences – I had in Durban. And I hope those will be memories that I hang on to and treasure forever.