A house is made of walls and beams, and a home is built with love and dreams.
A house is made of walls and beams, and a home is built with love and dreams. Every few days, I come across these words — in the pages of a book, scribbled on postcards, as tips in interiors magazines, et cetera. After all, walls are the mere structure — it’s the people who share these walls that make it a home. Right? Yes, there’s much truth in there. But, do walls serve only that purpose? Maybe no. Walls are the constants around which we build our lives. For, if you were to look closely you will notice how the walls within which we spend our waking and sleeping hours reflect who we are. They speak to us, just as they speak about us. And, I am not talking from an interior designer’s point of view.
When I think of the walls within which I grew up, I am reminded of my summer breaks spent in the home of my maternal grandparents. An airy home with cotton curtains and walls painted in a calming off-white. On one wall hung a calendar, larger in size than our youngest cousin, and on another, were (taped) greeting cards made by all the grandchildren. Our walls changed with us. The room that my elder sister and I shared witnessed the changes. In our younger days, we used toothpaste (it didn’t leave a mark on the wall) to adorn the walls with posters of pop stars. Later, we used nails to hang up frames with Keep Calm posters. Our dabbling sessions with watercolours and oil paints made way for canvasses on the walls. Mum-dad’s room had (still has) a wall dedicated to pictures from family holidays and picnics, other than our childhood pictures. Today, it holds memories of our weddings and pictures of their granddaughter.
Over the years, I began to make note of the walls. Hospital walls, a plaid green or blue with a picture of flowers or a sunrise; nursery walls; bright and chirpy wall paint with characters from cartoon scripts and shows; coffee shop walls; adorned with images of coffee beans; et al. Until date, each time I think of a home — mine or someone else’s (that I was ever invited to for a dinner, a stay or coffee) — I think of the walls of that home.
Whilst transparent adhesive tape was replaced with nails, and nails with Velcro sticky back fasteners — the walls continued to narrate tales of its inhabitants. The walls of our present home is a mirror of our lives. There’s a section, which is done up in chalkboard paint — it’s there that we draw our groceries list and leave messages for each other (yes, on many days we choose it over WhatsApp). It’s where our little guests turn into Picassos. On another are travel plates picked from the destinations we've visited. The corner one in the kitchen holds artworks depicting our favourite foods. Of course, there’s a picture wall with frames of all sizes — it’s where memories come alive.
For, the walls of a home should reflect our personalities, tastes, passions, and dreams. For, it’s the walls that play audience to the small and big part of our lives. For, the walls can indeed be windows to our souls. For an empty wall is an invitation to break the ice. This weekend, pick up a story that you want the wall to narrate.
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.