4 months ago
A home and a house
Picture Courtesy: pixabay.com
I feel a certain difference between a home and a house. One is four walls and a roof, the other is everything else. I am a student who lived in Vietnam for nine years and then in Nepal for four. The experiences of both drilled a clear line between ‘Home’ and ‘House’ in my mind.
Vietnam is a tropical country with an abundance of coconuts and motorbikes down every street. The roads and infrastructure are modernly built and the whole country just has this lingering presence of livelihood. It’s a magnificent country with gorgeous destinations and historical sites. I lived in Ho Chi Minh, where the city never sleeps and the glaring lights never cease to burn through the busy nights. It is such a privilege to have gotten to spend my childhood in Vietnam. But still, as a kid, I saw cars, roads and buildings—four walls and a roof.
I was fortunate to have my parents believe so strongly in the importance of my education and dedicate themselves so sincerely to my upbringing. The school I went to consisted primarily of students from three backgrounds—India, South Korea and Vietnam—none of whom I fitted in with for reasons I didn’t understand. My peers were somewhat rowdy, fun-loving but mildly discriminatory to those outside of their cliques. During the breaks, I sat in the library reading books instead of playing games with my peers.
By heart, perhaps I wished to be similar to the Vietnamese people, but the skin I wear said otherwise. I look distinctively different, with my sharp nose and tanned skin. I always was a very cheerfully social, boisterous and opinionated child contrasting those around me. My desire to be a part of the local community blinded the obvious differences between my nature and theirs, which is something I noticed only after moving to Nepal.
At home, my parents persistently talked in Nepali and tried to raise me conversing in my mother tongue. One’s surroundings, however, heavily influence their lifestyle. At that point in time, my ability to speak Vietnamese was far greater than that of my Nepali.
Vietnam’s most prominent religion is adopted Buddhism whereas Nepal’s is Hinduism. My parents always wanted to stay close to our roots so they prayed to holy stones and repeated stories of the Gods. Given the circumstances though, their efforts had a limitation. I couldn’t throw water balloons at my friends during Holi and longed to receive blessings from my elders throughout the years.
My mother and I left for Nepal and my father stayed in Vietnam to work. We would visit him during my summer holidays. After familiarizing myself with Nepal and its rich culture, I came back and suddenly became conscious of the stares and curious looks.
It’s expected that I view Vietnam as my homeland, seeing as I’ve spent the majority of my life there, but that’s not what happened. Nepal is very warm and welcoming; the people have a strong sense of community and family. I was treated no different than any other student and felt certain ease within the crowd. School no longer looked like long winding corridors and rooms of piled books, it looked like bliss; with people I fell down laughing and those whom I so happily grew alongside.
Then something happened. Somewhere between playing cards with my family and running in the rain with my friends, I found my home. Home to me is the people I hug, the old shops I go to, those dusty roads in front of my house, those barking dogs I’m scared of and those stubborn old trees in my garden that refuse to fall.
I now live in the Philippines where I’ve met new people and learned new things. No matter where my future takes me through the years, I will never forget that beautiful house in which I thrived and that simple, lovely home in which I grew.