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Ms. Alheri: What Does Home Mean to You?

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dreamstime_l_38761882I started boarding school when I was ten years old. I was excited to leave home, mainly because of the exciting stories which older cousins told me every time they were on holiday. There was this particularly close cousin I had, and she attended school in a different city from where we lived.

To me, she was the quintessential role model. Her check was always perfectly ironed, she had the most fun friends, and her stories always were the most interesting. I so badly wanted to be like her that when the time came, I too, wrote my common entrance exams and prayed with all my heart that I would be accepted to boarding school in a different city.

When I finally began school, I cried every single day for the first three weeks. I did not know a single soul in that school and I had never even as much as had a sleepover. I had spent every single day under my parents’ watchful eyes, and in my siblings’ company. On my first visiting day when my mother came to see me in school, I also cried the entire day. I badly wanted to return home.

But somehow, I made it. And six years later, I graduated from boarding school. I loved my school, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, although it certainly wasn’t all rosy. I’m grateful for the wholesome education that I gained.

Sometime during those years, our ideas of home constantly are challenged and morph accordingly. At first, we have a consuming desire to return home to our parents and relatives. But as we begin to develop friendships and relationships with our friends, we began to enjoy the time spent away from our families and fully enjoy our friends.

More so, about ten years later, my friends from boarding school still are some of my closest friends. This is a very common story in Nigeria, where many of us move to school as children, graduate at about sixteen or seventeen and move away for university (all things being equal). In my own case, I left Nigeria when I was sixteen to further my education.
I undoubtedly have imbibed the lifestyle in my new environment. that I have experienced, because whether or not we agree, some of my “growing up” continues to happen in an entirely different culture and in a more diverse environment.

As much as home technically remains where my parents live, I wonder if that’s where I feel most at home. I know that my parents love me, but do I truly express my most genuine thoughts when I’m around them?

For instance, do I always explain to them that I don’t always think that piercings and tattoos are merely artistic and not necessarily spiritual? They don’t know that I think dreadlocks are not dirty, but merely an expression of one’s personality.

My friend Lucia says that leaving home young makes you appreciate those you truly love and care for all the more, because you don’t spend that much time with them. She argues that leaving home young and having all these experiences makes the idea of home more fluid. Home transcends a geographical location, and becomes anywhere we feel most loved and comfortable to express our truest selves without the fear of judgment.

I spent some time with four of my friends from boarding school last summer and I felt very much at home with them. There was no forming because these people have watched me grow up from an immature crybaby to a confident young woman. I wonder if that’s more of my home.

We also cannot forget the financial aspect. Home also has to do with where our sustenance comes from. If you’re young and earning your own money like some of my friends, where is your home? As much as you don’t rely in your parents, you love and respect them, but is their house still your home?

I’m very curious about this. What do you think? Does home change as we grow older? Or do you believe, like some people do, that when you “settle down” (which is Nigerian speak for getting married), then you indeed begin to build your home? Does this mean that if you are a single working unmarried professional, you still don’t have a home until you couple with someone?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Alheri is a young, vibrant young lady. Her favorite color is purple, and she loves to dance, sing, write and read. She’s very unsure that she’ll do with her life, but she knows that “not all who wander are lost.” She blogs at https://msalheri.com

15 Comments

  1. Kanyin

    May 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Wherever my mom is ?

  2. cookie

    May 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, home for me is definitely where i feel most comfortable and not under the scrutiny of my parents. I enjoy spending time with my family but when i’m in my own space, with best friends, i feel more at home. a judgement free environment will always feel like home to me.

  3. home

    May 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    I went to boarding school at 10 and left Nigeria @ 16, my home is wherever my heart is and right now with my husband. Visiting my parents is always an emotional experience for me, their house, their rules. After the first week, I miss my home (my apartment with my husband) where I am ME.

  4. Vee

    May 8, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Home is wherever my mummy is,even inside forest?

  5. Nammy

    May 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Home is where my heart is, I have different homes and I can easily change a place to a home once my heart agrees to be there.

  6. Tosin

    May 9, 2016 at 12:35 am

    For most of my life, I’ve said ‘home is where my bed is’
    Nowadays I’m getting a little mushier, but still…

  7. ElessarisElendil

    May 9, 2016 at 12:59 am

    Personally I’m torn, I like when I’m away from the house because no chores, dislike it because of the lack of privacy and quiet. So I’m guessing home is fifty-fifty depending on my mood. Sometimes the camaraderie of your friends other times long conversations in Igbo with my Mother.

  8. Jagaban

    May 9, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Home is wherever your heart is but more importantly where you feel most welcome,comfortable and safe to be ( notice how some people are regarded as being homely). But basically home is wherever there is PLUR( borrowed from EDM fans) Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. When these things are present….nobody judges your person or makes you feel less worthy and that’s what home is. Have a blessed week ahead.

  9. aisha

    May 9, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Home is where my daughters are.

  10. Psychic

    May 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    home is where the food i eat at home on saturday and sunday is equivalent to what i ate from monday to friday(i stay alone,but i don’t know y i still go home on weekends) Home is where my mum is,her prayers and gists start from the door,(baba e shey igba,baba e shey awo, omo iya lagbaja bimo) Home is where i don’t do anything 4 myself,where i can be lazy. Home is where u cannot put on the generator anyhow,(we are saving that fuel for the night.Jeez,at that moment i want to go back to my simple humble studio apartment,my own home)Lolzz

  11. Faith

    May 9, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Home for me is where ever I can be myself. Whether its a place, with a person or alone, as long as i am free to be me without forced rules and expectations..I call it home .

  12. vida

    May 9, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    As a 23 yr old without parents, I can say home to me now lives in my dreams. I am looking for an accommodation presently but I have been staying with my “”2015 discovered”” cousins family. Its been easy here and at the same time its been otherwise …well since I lost my parents…ve been hanging…trying to make a home out of anywhere I find my self.. ..my new mum is Yoruba and no matter how I try to fit in, I cant still eat half of there meals, life is a way lot different here…..definitely no place like home…even when my home wasn’t a bed of roses….its still my home..i feel free to eat at least without thinking of what eyes will do to the food when you get to the dining….. I still thank God very much for providing this home for me.

    Now times are hard, my foster mum tells me to eat out to save cost…which I don’t see as anything because I hardly eat in the house before…..she is a very good lady and I love her.
    God has really used her to bless me.

    I know I wont be comfortable if I move out bc I work on the island and I don’t earn much, also houses around here are expensive, Though I contribute in the house, its not like running a full house, and had it been am working on the mainland, it would have been a lot easier, but I have decided to live above my fears and get a place, a room self contained will do, I will keep gathering my savings till its up to something shaa, my prayer is that I wont do this year xmas in that house……..They have really tried for me…..its time to move on.

    I have come to realise that home is not living with rich people in good location, fully serviced apartment and big cars , you can be still be uncomfortable and incomplete…….

    Home is where I find peace……………… again home is where I find peace………………

  13. Mee

    May 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I found this article at a very good time. Just like you I left for boarding school at 10 and after that I left Nigeria too. I’ve recently been struggling with the feeling of not connecting with my “home” in Nigeria. What do I mean? I mean I only call my parents on the weekend just to say casual heys and hellos. We don’t exactly have a relationship especially with my mum. To be honest I am more at home when I’m here away from my parents and in the company of people who are not constantly trying to find out if I’ll be caught doing something wrong(In reality I don’t do any of the things they expect to find). Sorry for the epistle but at the end of the day for me Home is where I am most at peace. Which sadly isn’t in Nigeria with my parents. 🙁

  14. TA

    May 9, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    You know, sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it

  15. Egor

    June 23, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    One,
    Your article is good. I left home young for the township. And its like each time i was requested to go back to the village with no modern amnenities at all, for whatveer – new yam festival, Kings festival or christmas time, i always looked sombre. I already have ‘settled’ with my own family and so my home now is anywhere that i find myself staying with more members of my nuclear family.

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