Monday 13 September 2021



All those roads, even those I didn’t travel on

the nooks and crannies of those creeks, each turn and stone,

those signs in foreign scripts, mostly beyond my ken

but still they felt...they feel like mine every now and then.

I’m home at last, then why does home feel so far away? -

left behind in the last sunshine of a summer day.


The passport clearly states my permanent address,

has stated so for a lifetime, not a moment less.

I’m sitting grateful under those same roofs of youth,

but there are more where I sat too, that’s the honest truth.

I’m here at last, but why does here feel so far away? –

left behind in the last sunshine of a summer day.


For years and years, a whole career worked towards this end -

to come to rest at this corner of this continent.

I’m held snug behind the doors I started out from

and it’s a blessing they still stand, their firm, warm welcome.

I’ve come to rest. But why does rest feel so far away? -

left behind in the last sunshine of a summer day.


I’m glad of the old flamboyant, green in the monsoons,

vendor calls in the mother tongue, rainy afternoons.

Yet even as I breathe in the rain some parts somewhere

seek a certain turquoise sea, a certain city square.

I’m at the river, yet my rivers feel so far away -

left behind in the last sunshine of a summer day.


The documents and the QR codes in black and white

spell out who I am in a couple of kilobytes

tell me what ought to be my final coordinates

and indeed I’m glad to be as convention dictates.

So it’s settled. But my settled feels so far away –

left behind in the last sunshine of a summer day.


And all through I thought I knew my moorings and my place

birth and death – the final breath, the end of the rat race;

yet one glimpse of an inch of a distant azure sea

yanks me back and yanks me awry from this certainty.

I’m home at last but why does home feel so far away? –

left behind in the last sunshine of a summer day.


  1. Oh Nila.
    Beautiful and simultaneously heart rendering. I hope your discombobulation eases and your boat comes to rest...
    Home is where the heart is - and it can simultaneously be in several places/times...

    1. Yesss, thankfully! - the heart can be simultaneously in different places and still be at home..

  2. Hari Om
    Oh yes... the lurching of the expatriate's heart. I know this 'not home, home' displacement so well. I fear I am not the one who can tell you it will settle... but I can say "I hear you!" YAM xx

    1. I know! it never does settle, does it? but that's okay too.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. Sad is as beautiful as glad sometimes.

  4. why does home feel so far away?
    OMG - you've captured my life. I'm in Texas, now more than half my life, and married to a Texan...and yet, my time when I go to PA feels so comfortable. I slip back into the "real me" when I'm in the house where I grew up, seeing friends I've known forever.
    This poem is absolutely one of your best. It's stabbing my soul with that yearning. wow. just wow

    1. Thank you, Joanne. Isn't it fascinating how we define our childhood selves as the real one? even though it is so short lived...

  5. So melancholy and haunting.
    As a military brat, I grew up all over the place, so fortunately home is always where I am right now.

    1. Exactly. People who've moved around a lot tend to live more in the moment and define their homes by their loved ones surrounding them rather than a particular physical space.

  6. Hi Nila - this resonated so much ... I'm home at last in England ... yet the love of Southern Africa, and I so enjoyed my year in Canada ... I haven't travelled as much as many people, but most definitely more than some.

    I'm so pleased I've a friend here, who relates to Africa the way I do ... I have to rein my thoughts in sometimes as those who've never travelled and lived are on different paths. It's interesting ... I feel at home - yet yearn for previous times. Memories and Memoir take me back ... but I'm content and pleased to be here, despite the living hassles of our UK life.

    You write and I think of my maternal grandmother who spent time in your city .. it's a strange world ... while my paternal grandfather spent time working in southern Africa - where his work opened other doors into my mind. I guess I dwell in my mind amongst those times, some I inhabited, some I didn't.

    Thanks - my mind, family and friends keep me within the enclave of 'home various' ... such a fantastic post - stay safe - Hilary

    1. Thank you for sharing your opinions and memories so eloquently, Hilary! Africa is huge in my life, so are the Arablands. The ones who travel are totally on different paths than the ones who don't - absolutely agree with you on that!!