I am a second generation Indian who grew up in the beautiful, haunting county of West Yorkshire. I often think about the hugely contrasting juxtaposition of India and Yorkshire, and wonder how on earth my parents and their contemporaries managed to adjust to climate, culture, dialect, and of course food!
Many years after they first settled there, I now see that what they fell in love with was the soul and soil of yorkshire. There they replanted their Indian roots and grew new shoots that resembled a hybrid version of themselves. I grew up in two worlds that collided beautifully, and that benefitted massively from one another. Indian people were a novelty when my parents first arrived in the 1960s, but they were welcomed by the people they lived among, and although it would be some years before the two groups understood more about each other’s cultures, they rubbed along pretty well. In Yorkshire, there was, and still is room in people’s lives for smiles at strangers, mutual neighbourly support, patience, and tolerance.
I find that my trips back to Yorkshire, where my family still lives, make me both nostalgic and deeply emotional. The landscape is so familiar, with undulating fields full of cows, horses and sheep, bordered by beautiful Yorkshire stone walls, towering viaducts and once thriving textile mills, and of course, the mesmerising Moors. I feel a sense of belonging there, and it evokes the memories of my close, intact family unit long before my dear father’s untimely death. When I was a young teenager, I loved family trips to Haworth, home of the Brontes, and local to where we lived. I fell in love with the sisters, and felt myself sucked into their world, their family life, and their works. To this day, two of my favourite novels are Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I never cease to be intoxicated by the raw beauty of the parsonage and surrounds where the sisters lived their short lives.
Home is a hugely important concept, and it is defined both by its geographical meaning and its symbolic significance. It certainly is where the heart is, and mine is in Yorkshire, in her soil, her green fields, the Yorkshire Moors, and in the crisp air with which I breathed in her essence daily, until my studies took me to London, where I have lived since then. On a recent trip to stay with my mother, I took a familiar walk with its captivating sights and sounds, and also visited Haworth for the umpteenth time… and each time I go there, I feel I can see and hear Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte chatting and laughing as they walk through the cobbled streets that were home also to their hearts. I am glad I have a shared experience of home with my literary heroines.