As a kid, I used to always draw out my surroundings—from my room, to the classrooms, to where my toys sat and where I imagined them to sit, to what the ideal version of my beach looked like. Little did I know that I was creating mini maps of these spaces. I abandoned this practice completely after the fifth grade, looking at it as a very childish way to discover my surroundings, until it came back to me so naturally when I had to rediscover my grandfather’s house.
I used the paper to define the walls that enclosed the series of houses. Inside that defined border lived our memories. The borders drawn by our memories were definitely not defined, as they jumped from one imaginative person to the next. After I spent a lot of time reminiscing with my cousins and family members, I really felt an escape that I hadn’t let myself feel around this treasure of a house. With that escape came a sense of longing, a clear understanding of where the houses were, and how they interlocked.
To draw the map, I picked up my sketchbook and began with the steel gates. I placed boxes where the houses were, and the flow of the outdoor space began to define itself. Out of memory I placed the locations of all the doors, the staircases, trees, outdoor kitchens, courtyards, and majlises. The paper suddenly started to look like the sketches I did as a kid growing up, orderly yet out of proportion and highly imaginative. I placed the names of the houses, and only then realised that all the houses were named by the eldest person in each family, from one generation to the next, except for my grandfather’s house. All the other houses were double named, each family member depending on what generation they were from, associated each house with who once occupied it. I decided to leave all my childhood confusion, something that still translated to me when memories were being shared, and decided to name the houses in relationship to the titles my generation used when growing up.
This map, in all its simplicity, both defines the old architecture that’s an eclectic mix of different periods through history and sums up the house I spent most of my childhood in. It was so natural and unchallenging to put the houses together where they belonged, and suddenly the place wasn’t so complicated to explain to an outsider anymore.