If These Walls Could Speak 

By Siddrah Alhindi

What is Home? Honorable Mention

If the walls in my home could speak, they would sigh and wish they could have been deaf. The walls have heard and absorbed many sounds, and they are still listening to this day. Kitchen clatter as my stepmom chops vegetables and turns on the stove to prepare dinner, children’s cartoons and nursery rhymes emanating from the TV while my baby brother eagerly watches, alternative music playing off of my sister’s record player as she paints, and the quick typing of fingers on a laptop keyboard late at night coming from my room. Yet amongst the various noises and conversations that have filled this house for years, there is one in particular that everyone prays they never hear again. It is loud, repetitive, obnoxious, and degrading. It echoes through the rooms and rings in everyone’s ears. I think if they could, the walls in my home would want nothing more than to close in on the source once it starts. This disturbance is the sound of my father yelling. 

I live in an abusive home. It has been broken for as long as I can remember. My father is the perpetrator, and even when the physical abuse ceased as I grew older, the verbal one hasn’t. Everyone that inhabits my home is a victim, even the one-year-old. My father’s yelling has been breaking down the walls of this home and my mental health. My father’s home is a place I try to be patient within, grateful for, but most of the time, I find myself fantasizing about leaving it. I yearn for it to symbolize happiness, family, and rest. I want it to be a safe space away from all the bad that thrives in this world. Yet no matter how hard I try to keep the negativity away and keep it together, his yells are like an earthquake that tears it further apart. Time and time again I have to find my way through the rubble, and each time I lose a piece of myself in the wreckage.

I have a toxic relationship with my home. A part of me hates it and is counting down the days until I can leave it, and another part feels guilty for even thinking in this way. What makes it unbearable is being trapped in a space constantly reflecting my father’s curses and complaints. One time a fight broke out between us, and he threatened that I would one day be disowned. Sometimes this possibility haunts me, and it creeps up in every corner. I can’t stop worrying about how that might play out, which suitcase would fit all my belongings, and where I would go. Yet even if I was ever thrown out of this house, I try to remind myself that I’ll never be homeless as long as I carry my home in my heart. 

I don’t usually get homesick, and that is probably because, as a child of divorce, I was used to living in different places. I learned to make a home that I can live in wherever I went. Our homes shouldn’t be based solely on a space our bodies can live in, but they should be a resting place for the soul. When things get intolerable I pray for ease, and I find it in my hope for a better home. One that I can create myself, build along with a partner who will protect it, and never let its walls witness any acts of aggression. I want us to find our homes in each other’s arms. To be comforted by each other’s presence and to feel that home is wherever they are. I want it to be a healthy home, one where a family can grow and get attached to, where a daughter or a son will never have to worry about letting it go. If the walls in my future home could speak, I want them to smile and wish they could hear our comfort forever.