Quite a few people have asked me this question in the last year, ‘what is your home town?’ or `which city do you come from?’. An innocent enough question, very simple and obvious when you meet a new person, but not for me, I could find no easy answer to this seemingly straightforward query. Should I say Abu Dhabi, the beautiful island city where I grew up and lived in the longest, who’s geography is still etched clearly in my mind but whom I left a long time ago. Or should I say Multan, which is my city by paternal rights, the city which I can never get tired of, the city I got married in and remains my husband’s home city, but I have never lived in it for too long. Should it be Sargodha, a city I have never really liked but still holds a year’s worth of precious memories for me one of which is it being the birth place of my firstborn. Should it be Lahore, the city in which I was born and in which I gave birth to my daughter and in which my parents currently reside, a city worth its name but unbelievably crowded, a city which is mine and who’s alleys I have walked and walked until my shoes became worn and yet once again I have never really resided in it for long. Or should I say Kamra. Kamra is not even a city, just a collection of ugly commercial plazas on the either side of the incredibly long Grand Trunk road almost half way between Rawalpindi and Peshawar, with a strange Dove shaped gate somewhere between the noise and the bazaar, from which one can take a road towards the city of Attock, formerly known as Cambellpur, and along this road now closed off from the general public are a collection of gates. Each of these gates leads into either a small town like colony of its own or an aircraft factory, several of which along with an Air Base make up an aeronautical complex. This was my home for thirteen or so years, from when I was no longer a carefree innocent girl and yet had still not been really exposed to the world at large, because Kamra was not really a city it was a world of its own. In between there is Sahiwal which was formerly known as Montgomery, my maternal grandparents lived here and it remains my most favorite city ever, home to one of the most beautiful houses ever, a house that still holds my best childhood memories and quite a few after I had grown up, it was a place for refuge for a little more than half a year after a sudden move from the UAE to Pakistan. Or should I say Ahmedabad, not strictly a city but the home of my grandfather and many generations of Majoka’s before him, the place where blood takes us every time, the once tiny village on the banks of the River Jehlum, it has kept changing its locations over the years with the flow and ebb of the river and whatever the weather brings with it. Situated some twenty miles west of Khushab, in this village is our farmhouse and has been our home for quite a few odd months and a holiday home for the last eighteen years, as well as my father’s retreat from where he runs his farms. Or Toronto, where I have lived sporadically in bits and pieces and where I find myself once again, a city that holds my own youthful memories and is slowly becoming memorable for my own children.
So where does a body belong to? What actually is a hometown anyway? Is it a town, a city, a collection of houses and roads or just a place in which your heart or body resided for a while so when you move away it is carried in that heart and body forever? Do I have a single hometown or am I destined to find a new one in every phase of my life, but which one should I really refer to as my hometown, my city, the one I have lived in the longest or the one that lives in my heart the most; or all of them. So I just say the name of the city which comes up the quickest on my tongue, people around me still don’t know for sure where exactly I come from but then I myself am not sure which is my city, or rather which is not my city.