Many years have passed, the patches of green grass turning brown, into mud and finally filled in with concrete and new beginnings. The houses of this block were tales of fortitude. They were inhabited by a generation which had managed to scrape together what was left behind by its former rulers. Through civil strife, a country was hammered together. Given the keys to their new homes, they were left with an unfounded society, borders and hopes of building a functioning nation. This block was just a small part of a larger dream that was known then as a new country.
As the nation lay dormant, its population boomed and our city swelled in heat. Pollution and traffic grew as old customs and commitments trickled down sparingly to the newer generations. The area changed gradually and before long, the original homes were renovated, revamped and repackaged. Many of the families remained the same but the inhabitants developed new habits. New jobs meant lucrative opportunities and before long, the neighborhood alongside the city grew with the markets and the country.
The corner house was our place away from home. In my younger years, it was a sleepy bend of cats and dogs, of the elderly, and an enclave signifying a getaway from the bustle of the city. As the barbwire fences grew taller from our side of the boundary walls, so did the weeds and bushes on the other side on the abandoned plot of land. Watching from the balcony, the stray dogs would form in gangs, sleeping and foraging for meals. A slow ruin came over my eyes as I moved away and visited the corner house less, maybe because of the process of growing older elsewhere or simply due to the hands of experience.
The once large and cozy corner became a small ball of stress, gasping and holding tightly to the crumbling side streets that were too narrow for vehicles. The land grew smaller as the population grew larger and the new faces that arrived were unfamiliar. Society had changed and our corner felt the impact of this new world, from inside and out. The house wore down, renovations were difficult and upkeep costly. Neighborhoods began springing up around the city of millions, boasting impossible price tags and incredible, high-achieving socialites. Our corner could no longer afford to keep out the outside world, to sneak away from the hustle and noise of the city and into the afternoon light of Sunday lunches with family and friends.
Looking back, I remember this home in fondness. My safe place as a child no longer mine, the friendly confines of the neighborhood no more my peace of mind. I have found new homes, nature, cozy and warm settings and even traces of youth in recent years but never again will I find a first love as I did in the shape of this house once upon a time.