Our joint family home in Tiruchirapalli housed 14 of us from age 5 to 95 years. All kids, grandkids, and Grandparents lived happily by sharing what we had with joy and contentment. 

But today, I watch both the ancestral houses abandoned and nature taking over the garden my mother used to tend for hours every day. The Jamun, the Drumstick, a few Neem, and Peepal have survived, but all beauty is both transient and fragile, and the law of entropy is powerful. 

The lovely flowers of myriad colors are all gone. I wonder what happened to the squirrels, the peacock family that came every day and ate from my mother’s hand. 

The Bulbul, the sparrows, the parrots, spotted flycatchers, Cuckoos, a huge troop of monkeys that once in a month would upset the order of the place *Once people leave, a home becomes a house*. 

*Initially, I didn’t feel like selling, and now I don’t feel like going. Time has taken away ten of its fourteen occupants.* 

I walk around our neighborhood and see a similar fate of so many homes once full of life now replaced by apartments with children apart, parents apart. Only crows lying still. Why do we stretch and stress to build houses? In most cases, our kids won’t need it or worse, fight over it. 

*What is this human folly of attempting permanent ownership of apartments in a leased life given by God with an uncertain tenure given by a landlord whose terms are non-negotiable and there is no court of appeal* One day, all we have built with love and houses will either be demolished, fought over, sold, or lie in ruins. 

Every time I fill a form that asks for _'Permanent Address’_ I smile at human folly. There is a Zen story that an old monk walked into a King’s palace demanding he wanted to spend the night at this Inn and the guards told him, “What Inn? can’t you see its a palace?”. 

The monk said “I came here a few decades back. Someone was staying there. A few years later, someone else took the throne from him, then someone else. 

Any place where the occupant keeps changing is an Inn.” George Carlin says *“House is just a place where you keep your stuff as you go out and get more stuff”.* As houses get bigger, families get smaller. 

*When the house has occupants, we desire privacy, and when the nest empties, we crave for company.*  

Birds and Animals must be laughing at us humans who give up living in order to build their dream home and, in the end, depart the Inn they mistook as a Permanent Residence.

(Source of the story is WhatsApp) 


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