A home away from home

My father posted this picture on FaceBook along with the caption: "Standing on top of what used to be my room!"

My father posted this picture on FaceBook along with the caption: "Standing on top of what used to be my room!" Buy this photo
Provided by Sivanthy Vasanthan

 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 3:40pm

When most people think of home, they often think of a warm and cozy place filled with loved ones, light and home cooked meals.

But what always comes to my mind are small rocks and slabs of concrete painted bright green and a dark, rusty red. This is all that remains of my father’s house in Jaffna, Sri Lanka — the house that I would have grown up in and the house that I would have called mine. What is left of my father’s house has melded with the soil, indistinguishable from the earth it once stood upon, as if it never existed in the first place.

Most people would not find solace in a pile of ruins. But I did. And I still do

A seemingly trivial mass of rocks, rubble and concrete grounds me, reminding me of my heritage. Each shard represents my roots, my family, my identity, my ethnicity. And so, I refuse to look at them as broken and meaningless.

Tupac once wrote about a "rose that grew from a crack in the concrete.” While I’m not sure that I can ever be that rose, I hope to be the roots growing underneath the concrete that supports my family while bringing awareness to some of the experiences within the Tamil diaspora.

I won’t ever know what it would have been like to grow up in Northern Sri Lanka and I recognize that I have had the immense privilege of not being raised in a war-torn country. But at the end of the day, a mound of rocks and concrete will always be my home away from home.