In an existence which can best be described as transient, we tend nevertheless to become attached to physical spaces. Often, it’s the home you grow up and spend a significant amount of time in.
The objects and pieces of furniture that occupy its rooms become the backdrop of life with your family; years later, you recall these surroundings and are left enveloped in the kind of warmth and comfort that only familiarity and togetherness can bring.
While my childhood home still exists in a now over 40-year-old building in Karama, I haven’t lived there in many years. But I continue to be drawn to it and often tap the corridor at the entrance with my hand when I pass through, driven by the need to physically connect with a memory.
Vivid images of childhood life pass through my mind - I see myself ensconced in the drawing room sofa with a book, building Lego with my brother on the wall-to-wall carpet (a concept that is rare now), or unpacking my school bag at our twin study desks, wondering which piece of homework I should ignore first.
I remember the drive to a furniture store in Sharjah in the 80s, to purchase those desks; a pleasant journey unmarred by the kind of traffic one encounters nowadays.
An integral part of our home and home life was a Sony ‘Trinitron’ TV - a television set partly encased in wood with handles on both sides. I have fond memories of one of the first photographs my dad sent us when he arrived in Dubai in 1980, where he was kneeling on the carpet, and turning one of the knobs of his newly purchased TV, for which he had yet to acquire a stand.
When my mother, brother and I arrived at our new home in 1981, we were thrilled to meet ‘Trinitron’ in person; not only was it the first television we’d ever had, it was also a steadfast companion that saw us through our childhood and teenage years with memorable programs like Tom & Jerry, Pink Panther, Chart Attack and Beverly Hills 90210 among many others.
But back then television was only one of our many pastimes. We would often run riot all over our two- bedroom house, indulging in the kind of pranks and mischief etched in most kids’ histories. I recall scheming with my brother to open a creaky kitchen cupboard, when my mother was taking a nap; the temptation of scooping up spoonfuls of Nido or chocolate milk powder was too powerful to resist.
Unfortunately the creaking that only mildly disrupted our ears on a daily basis, erupted that afternoon like the blaring horn of a ship at sea. Needless to say we didn’t get our hands on any treats that afternoon; the traitorous cupboard watched unperturbed as we received appropriate reprimands for our actions.
And as I stroll through that childhood neighborhood in Dubai and enter the old building with my customary tap, it’s memories like these, of a life long past, that help make sense of the present.
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