MAY MANSOOR MUNN
Going home is what some of us try to do throughout our lives—although many of us are already home, a chosen place where we live and relate to family and friends. Yet always, that other, almost mythical home wraps us in memory, hints at who or what we are—and sometimes points the way. It's that other home that we must occasionally return to and, despite our former rebellions, learn to embrace. Only then will the splinters of our many selves merge into a single strand.
I went back to that other home in 1989, not a former home in Dalton or Richmond or even Onalaska, Texas, but to my old home where my mother and sister still live, where my brother-in-law teaches school, where a sixth-grade classmate is now a minister's wife, and where Aunt Selma, at eighty, still bakes her thick round wheat bread in the old taboun, and cooks for a ninety-five-year-old brother. That is the place I left at age fifteen for college in the United States, returning at nineteen—to teach, to marry, and to leave again.
In that other home, early morning mist drenches valleys, moves stealthily across boundaries, sometimes hides the sun. That long-ago home where my mother, in August, leaves for her early treasure hunt in the vineyard, returning with grapes and figs she sets before us: an offering. Once, in this place of memory, shops opened mornings and afternoons, stone walls and buildings were free of politics, and instead of gunfire, the honking of cars disrupted equilibrium in the streets.
My mother's house has new aluminum screens now and is white-washed, its high ceiling no longer peeling. Roses and zinnias grow in her garden, basil just below the waterpump, mint under the clothes line, and the sweet-scented Louisa plant at the edge of our veranda.
But in the front yard of our Quaker Meeting House, no flowers bloom. Instead, a broken-off post now lies on its side amid tin cans, bottles, bits of paper, and leftover falafils from the stand next door. The sight of rubbish on Meeting House grounds arouses guilt, and