Recipe for Home

by Sajidah Iqbal

I want to make a home here, it’s just that, I don’t know

how to go about it. I wonder if it would be easy to do
it all over again; to carve my name on the bark of the
new trees, that don’t recognize me or leave my
footprints on the sands of the new ocean which
doesn’t own me. It’s so baffling, how can I clutch at the
spirit of this new city, so that it inspires and braces me?
How do I make it my new proud home? I left my home-
land far behind, many sleepless nights away. The
troubles and cares of adapting to, this new brilliant city
kept me up at night, at first the struggle seemed
exciting and then it crept on my mind and body like
poison ivy, numbing my senses and leaving me even
more desperate to be a part of London. I whispered to
God, “Please, I am trying to hitch a ride with this new
world, help me.” A vibe of hope electrified and made
me think, every day is a new day and is a blessing of
God, I won’t give up, until I make it my home.

From tomorrow morning, I will put in my best effort,
once again, but the first thing I have to do is, get a new
pillow, this one is twisted and gives me a stiff neck, I
look like a zombie with swollen, red eyes. You know
what, this struggle to procure sweet dreams has left
me busted. I have shopped for seven pillows, in the last

five months. But, I don’t know, why they can’t fill up
pillowcases just enough to make them soft and downy,
so they make you fall sleep instantly. Pillows here are
either too soft or too hard. Back home, we had the
best pillows ever, you just put your head on one and
you would drift off into the sweetest dreams.

This Friday we are eating out, we are planning to go to
a restaurant in Hounslow, “Taste of Pakistan”. I have
tried their food couple of times before, it’s really good,
especially their “Chicken Karahi” with its beautiful
tomato gravy and julienne ginger garnish. I love its
aroma, but every time I go there, something is missing,
I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it, whether it’s
some kind of spice in the gravy or the naan which is
served along with the dish is not baked to a crusty
perfection or their repulsive metallic crockery puts me
off, or the specious air of originality about their food
drives me crazy, something is not there. I can’t name

Before coming to London, the thing that fascinated me
was the concept of outdoor seating at cafes and
restaurants. Tranquil rose-trimmed terraces,
retractable roofs to cover diners from damned summer
rain, chic and comfortable seaters, scintillating glass
walls, bloom-filled terracotta pots and a clubby
atmosphere thriving with buzzing diners,

demonstrated the meaning of exotic and romantic for
me. After coming here, the magic stayed for a while
and then vanished somewhere, the delighted chirpy
diners turned into an annoying mob, and the rose-filled
terraces into a waste of space.

Where did I go wrong? Did I not make a genuine effort
in embracing you, London? Why did I end, screwed up?
Perhaps…. I never explored you in you, London! I tried
to pursue the beloved old faces in the new faces,
foraged familiar flavours in the new food, beat about
the new paths hoping to reach the old destinations and
searched for the tantalizing hot weather in your rainy
summer. I searched for the peace in pillows and not in
peace of mind. My search has been faulty, I have been
wrong all along, I was only looking at what I wanted to
see and was searching for what I left behind.

I took for the graciousness of strangers for granted,
who bent over backwards explaining directions when I
was lost. I was so immersed in complaining that I failed
to appreciate the mother-like kindness of the midwife,
who tried to comfort me in the moment of utter pain. I
was so busy kicking up a fuss about rains and cold that
I couldn’t spot the splendorous rainbows afterwards.
My prejudices never fully released me to value the new
world as it is. I wish, I had broken the shackles of past

affiliation and would have allowed myself to enjoy the
short-haul ride of summer, melodious songs of birds
and warm smile on alien faces. I ignored your true
essence and blissfulness, London however, I found out
the recipe of home.