This essay is a self-analysis of possibly my best poem so far, Before the War Came.
I have always been drawn to the idea of ‘home’, in all its physical, literary, metaphorical, and symbolic meanings. This may have come from my own experiences in moving home and countries, which may have led to a strong pull towards the Middle-East, and seeing the wars taking place over there, subsequently leading to me taking interest in global wars and international affairs. Or it could be anything.
The idea of home is different to different people accepted different cultures, different countries, and different social structures. You may not consider the place you physically inhabit as your home. Home is not confined to just for walls and a roof. For some, home could be a person, or a feeling, or even an emotion.
Home seen through the context of war is a wide and multi – layered concept. Countless discussions and debates have taken place questioning the morality of war and refugees. Millions of people have fled their country, which they considered home for many generations ; this flexing should be seen as an act of courage. However, they face racism and violence in the country they’ve now adopted a their home, and are constantly told to ‘Go back to where they came from’ not knowing that it’s no longer a possibility for them. We love a privileged existence compared to the daily difficulties, indignities, and sufferings faced by the refugees,coupled with the terror and nostalgia for their home.
Knowingly or unknowingly, I have been influenced by many great multi – genre authors, poets , and thinkers on this topic. Read any work by a diaspora writer, and the entire narrative can be whittled down to this. Jhumpa Lahiri, Khaled Hosseini, Kamila Shamsie, Anita Desai, Zadie Smith, Toni Morrison, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, James Baldwin, Amy Tan, and others contributed to this concept. Even the increased popularity of music and rap has led to singers putting out their ideas to a larger audience,has helped in the understanding of home. Artistes like Kendrick Lamar and Khalid have songs with the underlying theme of home and belonging. (I also love ‘Home‘ by X Ambassadors, Bebe Rexha and Machine Gun Kelly). Personally, my favourite works of poetry on this idea are by Warsan Shire and Agha Shahid Ali. The first time I read ‘home’ by Warsan Shire, I cried actual tears. Agha Shahid has written extensively about Kashmir. In Contemporary Poets, critic Bruce King remarks that Ali’s poetry swirls around insecurity and ‘obsessions [with]..memory, death, history, family ancestors, nostalgia for a past he never knew.’ 1 Even Fatimah Asghar’s poem Land Where My Father Died echoes this sentiment of being grateful to a country for no reason other than the fact that it let you live there.
One person’s idea of home might be different from other’ s, but the feeling of belonging and comfort is central to that idea.