A House is not a Home
By Zan Gaudioso
· The story ‘A House is not a Home’ written by Zan Gaudiodo is a beautiful message of kindness, compassion and helpfulness to the humanity.
· Zan Gaudioso, an American author, has contributed stories to the famous 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' book series. Her most notable contributions have been for the book, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III.
· This story is an account of a teenager who experienced a fearful accident when his house caught a fire. The story also narrates powerfully small acts of kindness which revived narrator's faith in life.
· The story indirectly discusses the difference between a house and a home. A house is a physical structure whereas a home is a place where people live together sharing their ups and downs, supporting one another and spreading love and cheer. Therefore, a home is much more significant than a house made of brick and mortar.
· The story is about the challenges in the life of a teenager. It is a great lesson to all the youngsters who get depressed due to mishaps. It highlights the importance of being positive and not being depressed by the problems and challenges that are an important part of life. It reiterates that ‘every dark cloud has a silver lining’.
Summary / Synopsis
The narrator is a teenager who joined Junior High School and gets separated from his friends and teachers. He felt like a freshman in his new school. His friends had gone to a different high school. So, he felt lonely. He missed his old teachers also. He visited them. They advised him to have patience and spend a little time in his school and participate in activities and that after some time he would not miss them.
One Sunday afternoon the narrator was doing homework in his home. Wind was blowing fiercely. His mother stoked the fire. Suddenly, he noticed smoke coming from the ceiling. Fire was spreading very fast and the house was full of fire and smoke. His neighbours called the fire department.
His mother ran back into the house and came back with important documents. She again, ran back into the house again to get the pictures and letters of her late husband. He ran after his mother but the fireman stopped him. The fireman made him sit in the car and wrapped him in a blanket. Soon, another fireman brought the author’s mother out and put her in the truck with an oxygen mask over her mouth. She had only inhaled a lot of smoke while she went inside the house.
The fire was finally controlled after five hours. Suddenly, it struck to the narrator that he had not seen his cat and started weeping. He spent the night at his grandparents’ place.
The next day the narrator went to school. He was wearing his old clothes and tennis shoes. He had no books nor his backpack. He felt like a zombie. He felt if he would remain outcast all his life. He did not want to grow up. He wanted to die.
He walked back through his house after school. Everything had been destroyed. His heart ached for his cat. His mother took him to find a place to live and buy clothes for school also.
Soon all came to know about the narrator’s plight. The school students pushed him to the gymnasium. The table inside had a collection of all the necessary things such as notebooks, clothes, jeans, sweat suits, etc. The narrator grew emotional. He made many friends that day. Some invited him to their home.
After a month the narrator was at his house. It was being rebuilt. He realised that his life was also getting rebuilt. Now he had so many wonderful people around him.
After a while, a woman approached him. She was holding a cat. She asked him if the cat belonged to him. The author recognised the cat and grabbed it from her at once. The cat purred happily. The cat had run miles away being scared of the fire.
The author sat with his friends with his cat in his lap. The feelings of loss and sorrow had vanished. He felt indebted to his friends for his newly found life. He also expressed gratitude for the kindness of a stranger. Now he felt all the precious things are back to him and so he was because now he wanted to live.
Important Question answers
Q 1. Why did the narrator feel awkward during his first year of high school?
Ans. The narrator felt awkward because it was a new school, much bigger than his previous junior high school. It was a strange feeling to start again as a freshman after enjoying the benefits of being the senior most class in junior high. All his close friends had gone to different high schools and it was completely a new place for him. He missed his teachers so much that he continued to visit them at old school as it was a familiar place where he had spent many happy years. He felt isolated and depressed, and wished not to go to school.