"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

"Whenever you are done, please drop off the keys in that box over there. We need to scrub the place after you leave. You will be charged for breakages and stains." and as he was stepping out, she yelled again "and there's an extra charge for deodorising the carpets... to remove the indian curry smells". It didn't offend him anymore, this was his n-th rental in the U.S. and he had heard it all too often.

It was true! the smell of Indian curries lingers long on the carpets, and longer in memories..

He had moved all the "stuff" in the truck, and decided to go around the house one final time. Shifting houses had become almost a ritual for him by now, yet however hard he cleared the place, he always felt like something was being left behind, a sudden bout of weightlessness. His houses, no matter how brief the stay, always had a mystic effect on him- on the one hand, they filled him with a solitude that was reserved for him within their walls, and on the other hand, they had sucked the void out of his heart and transformed into a melody that filled the stillness between ticking moments- the same moments which, now, lay frozen in his handycam.

Every house touched him, like fingers holding a butterfly, which invariably brushed some powder off its wings.

A house was like a sanctuary for him, one that beckoned in the midst of hustle and bustle, with a rustle that was soft enough to put him to sleep, yet loud enough not to be missed. He bared his soul in them, casting off garments of cotton threads, naked, and let the house wrap him up, in threads of its stories. Every corner hidden to the casual eye had a tale- soot under the kitchen shelf, cobwebs in the attic, acid stains on the bathroom mirror, scratch marks under the doormat- all memories of the warmth that the plastered abode shared with families that sought refuge in it. They would make him giggle and laugh, with lofty disdain.

He never stuffed his house with furniture, maybe he didn't want to weigh down the house or maybe he felt loading a house was just a vainful attempt to hide one's own emptiness. It's an excuse to shift one's consciousness from object to object, activity to activity and pretend to avoid the difficult questions of reality. Yearning for a house, filling it up with noises of family, stuffing it with furniture, loading it with light and music, bombarding it with celebrations, fighting to keep its dominion, mulling over plans to expand it- so much a house keeps a man's life occupied.

Men need a house not just as a place to occupy, but also a place that keeps them occupied!

He never felt any of these necessities though. A house, for him, was only a place where he shed his human facade and roamed its corridors like a hungry ghost, listening to echoes that projected an infinite colorful past into the blink of a momentary present, a place where he lived like himself, by himself, with himself.

Every house was different in character, yet they never failed to reflect the same version of his self- one that longed for something to hold on to, with an anxious self-restraint that could never be fathomed. And every single time he came to the brink of getting used to this reflection, it would be time to move on. He never really understood the coincidence- was the house kicking him out, or was he running away in fear- yet when he stepped out of the house for that one last time, he would just lock up and walk away, withough ever turning back, as if to believe, that final question is better left unanswered...

P.S. Though I never consider myself to be an out-going person or someone that loves traveling around, yet due to a strange twist of fate, I have ended up shifting 31 houses so far. The above story could be my own vague recollections..