Fresh out of school, and looking forward to the next phase in life was a dream of mine. I envisioned a life away from Kerala, all while thinking of embarking on a new journey in a new city with new people. I saw my seniors enthusiastically talk about their tales out of Kerala, and how moving out of their parent’s house was one of the best decisions they took. As they spelt out their stories, I was literally planning out my life. Like any other enthu cutlet teenager, I couldn’t wait to pack my bags, and leave the ‘constraints of my home’. But little did I know that the life that was waiting for me was not a fairytale I cooked up in my mind.
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It’s so weird. All of us wish to get out of the clutches of our parent’s house in search of freedom. If you’ve been born in a Malayali household, you’ll know the kind of mobility restrictions that we had to bear under their rule. Young women had to suffer more compared to young men. We all cooked up believable and convincing lies just to step out and ‘chill’ with friends at that cool spot in town. We had to make do with the little pocket money we would get just to spend time with our school friends. Of course, under the surveillance of our parents. The constant calls asking “Where are you?”, “When are you coming home?”, “Who are you with?” was considered nagging and annoying. Worst of all, if they didn’t call, we’d believe that we were in trouble when in reality, the parents weren’t bothered or were busy. Most of us grew up believing that our parents weren’t cool enough or suspected us of wrongdoings almost all through high school. Let’s all admit how much we rolled our eyes at that. That said, there were a few lucky ones who had parents that trusted them, and let them go scot-free – you know, the ones we were jealous of and said, “Oh wow, you have such cool parents.”
For all the reasons mentioned above, we were oh-so-ready to leave our parent’s house, and live the life of infinite freedom.
No bloody soul told us the realities of living in a new place without any parental guidance. Our parents were just a phone call away, but the lack of their physical presence taught us a thing or two about living in the real world. Living with meagre pocket money, keeping up with the competition, rationing tucks, and balancing educational expenses with alcohol spending was a task. We’ve all learned how to live the ‘piccha’ life the moment we step out of our parent’s homes to create our own. The expectation vs reality meme was, in fact, the truth of our life. And freedom? Of course, we had the opportunity to go wherever we wanted, chill with whomever we wanted, without having to ask our parent’s permission. But, with freedom came responsibility. And no one will teach you that. You have to learn it all by yourself.
When I first moved from Kerala to Hyderabad to do my undergraduate, I remember my heart beating quickly. My mother dropped me off at my hostel. We bid our goodbyes. She entered the cab and drove off. I fell apart at that moment, crying intensely and wiping off my tears because I didn’t want anyone consoling me. I just wanted my mother. It was at that point I realised that all my life, my mother was my backbone. But without her, I had to be my own source of strength. That thought scared me. Days passed by, and I learned to live life. Years passed by, and I learned to live an adult life. The responsible life, as people would say. But damn, that was and is hard.
Work. Sleep. Chill during weekends. Repeat. That became my mundane life. In all this, I had to pay my own rent, electricity bill, Wi-fi bill, and cook my own food just to save up money to buy alcohol and party. Plus, who knew that you needed to add tadka to get that amazing taste of daal? Or, that washing clothes with your hands would drain all the energy you had for the day? And when you have an income worth peanuts, you need to live with others like you and live the adjustment life. How did our parents do it? How did my mother make three meals just for lunch? How? Where was the freedom we were all searching for as kids?
Living at my parent’s house was so much easier because everything was served on a silver platter. Gosh! I kept on thinking why I never valued it. Taking that one-week leave from work just to be with our parents was a blessing in disguise. At the end of the day, we’re all grateful that our parents let us go from their clutches, even though we secretly know it was for their peace of mind. I mean, we did learn to live on our own without being babysitted. That says a lot about our character and personality development. We owe that to our parents and our innate need to get out of our parent’s home.
But, we all can’t forget the times we spent in their arms.