Home but Homesick

Most often than not, home is not a place. It’s that feeling that comes from seeing their face. Or the safety that emanates from a tight embrace. Home are the destinations in our memories we keep going to, moment after moment when you feel kind of blue. You miss them and you kind of hope that they miss you too. The rhyme is totally accidental. I guess what I’m saying is that more often than not, we find our homes in people and who am I to judge how dumb and immature that is. People change, people move, people die. People are inconsistent, god! we all know that’s true. But I guess building homes in them is just something that as people, we can’t help but do.

It’s 3 o’clock one lazy afternoon and you’re just sitting around doing absolutely nothing when your mind decides to take you for a spin. All it takes is just something small it can work with. Like this hijab pin on your couch. Muslim women stick those things everywhere. And all of a sudden, it’s a night in 2016, you’re a university student and picking up this hijabi girl from stage. You’ve been taught that these women have no one else but you guys here and try to be there for them no matter what. Rather gentlemanly if you ask me. You try to make small-talk as you walk her back and it goes okay. Extremely awkward cause you don’t really know her, but nice.

You’ve always been socially awkward. Like the first day of school in your second year. You walk into class and realize that you don’t remember the faces of anyone there. You’ve been around no one else but the people you came with from high school and a handful of others. While everyone was busy being a social butterfly, holding that “you don’t know where you might need each other in life” and pushing for slogans like “your network is your net-worth” you always had your head low, hoping to do your time without attracting any attention to yourself and leave here the way you came. Then your people come in and you have this sense of relief, like at least. You’ve been a wallflower but at least you like these individuals.

It hasn’t always been quiet. You also spiral into this vault of loud moments. Like that time you went to watch a football match, only for a fight to break out when your team loses and together with the other fans you storm into the field to beat up the other team team. Cause how dare they fight back instead of letting your team beat them up after they in turn had thrashed them in the match. It’s perhaps moments like these that perhaps gave you street cred. Even when you didn’t know anyone, everyone knew you and you started getting nominated for stuff. To which you served and was constantly chosen to go represent different groups in different places.

One time at this seminar, when you think that you don’t know anyone, you discover during your tea-break, that girl you walked home that night in 2016 and she’s since become a familiar. You’ve had many meals at her place. She’s with these two other girls and you crack them all up. You’re not as shy as you used to be. You get invited to things. And one time this girl gathers courage from I don’t know where to tell you that she likes you and you gently put that to rest like “you’re too good of a friend for me to risk.” She seems fine, only to later find out that she’s not. Things become awkward between you and you grow distant. And life moves on.

Between the years and the classes, the newer lots come to look up at you as this older brother figure and they come to you with their problems. Like you’re the guy with all the answers. They respect you but you kind of feel the pressure. And now all of a sudden you have to talk to lecturers which for years you’ve been avoiding. But missing marks. And your time is limited. And you want to graduate. And just like that it’s the finalist dinner, and you put aside beef you’ve had along the way cause you all want closure. And between all the speeches and interactions you kind of realize that that’s a moment you need to fully savour for you’ll all never be in a room together like that, again.

And you look back on the trail of memories you’ve captured along the way and stored them all and all their intricate details in a file you call home. It’s memories like these that make you have this appreciation for people. In them you found a community, just a couple of misfits who through several interactions find out that they actually have pieces of them in other people, and that gives you this sense of belonging. That sometime when you are reminded of them, what you feel can only be described as homesickness.

distant past, home, homesick, memories, moment, reminisce


Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.

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