As a loner, I’ve always reveled in the tranquility between the four walls of my bedroom- the smell of the convertible on the right corner that has almost been spiritual, Simba(the stuffed tiger) that has come to sort of become a muse and the creaking door that has shielded me from world outside. These are the insignificant scaffolding that’ve held my world together, for no matter how a day panned out, they’ve often than not tuned me back to equilibrium. To me this room had more memories than bricks behind it and I was dog territorial about this space. For this was the same room I used to sleep during the last days of my grandma. This is where I made love the first time. This was where I always came looking for solace, introspection; every time I burnt a bridge, felt lost or just needed perspective. In short, this dark of the house was the mirror to my soul.
My parents would occasionally ask to me sleep in their room along with them and like most grown men I would dole out these self righteous excuses involving “the want of privacy” or “I’m old to sleep with my parents” every time to just stay back at my room. It wasn’t just that I had outgrown the charm of snuggling in the mini-bed under my parent’s bed once in a while, with time I had somehow outgrown the experience of spending time with them.
I didn’t realize that every time I turned them down, I was taking their love for granted because it was available in such abundance at free of cost for me to overlook.
There was a time in my life, after a showdowns everytime, dad would suggest that I got out of the house in a not so calm fashion. Truth be told, it took an asshole of my magnitude to bring that out of an otherwise peace loving man. I was never quite the model offspring and had dedicated a good amount of my post teen years to reminding my parents about the flip side to procreation. He obviously didn’t mean it— I hoped every time I was told to leave the house —for these were everyday occurrences under a roof housing an aging father, a son at the brink of his manhood and their combined egos, the size of a meteor. It’s not till when the frequency of these outbursts increased, that I began looking at these as more than just domestic outbursts. When the same words kept repeating, I could get a sense of where they were coming from. It was never a question of whether he loved me or not, he obviously did. But the fatigue of resigning to the fact that he couldn’t get me to do things differently was starting to show, along with his anxiety for my ability to take care of myself. The very everydayness that was supposed to cement most families together, was forming fissures in between.
Our cat and mouse dynamic was fast turning into an uglier beast of indifference. We needed some sort of an intervention. Probably, separation. Some objective distance to stop taking each other for granted and cultivate some respect back. Obviously, the proximity wasn’t helping.
It was around this time that I was on my notice period and look out for my next job, when an exciting profile came my way from Bangalore. And it didn’t take me long to decide. And before my parents could come to terms, I had already relocated. And like that, I was in a new city for the first time away from home. And my parents were away from me for the first time . This was the reality check I needed. Privacy and “me time” were scattered at every step, every nook and every corner. It was like life decided to make a dear wish into a bad joke by giving it in abundance, till a point it almost became a curse. I learnt that charm of being alone was a thing of relative appeal. My “me time” worked only with togetherness, not in isolation. Without the togetherness, it just felt like a king in a marooned kingdom .
A few hours of shopping for home appliances did what a lifetime of delicious home made meals, ironed clothes, a comfortable home and selfless parenting couldn’t. It made me realize the value of my parents for the very first time in life. I knew what I had had. The cushions around me that had always protected me, were suddenly not there. There was no one to take for granted. Every phone call from home became important. Dad seemed to miss me and I could feel his respect. It was strange that my conversations with my mom over phone were longer now than the ones we had at home. My sister and I were the closest that we had been in a long time.
Maybe every family is only a hiccup of a circumstance away from closeness.
This time when I was home, mom and dad’s faces lit up. It was late in the night when my bus had come. They were well past their bed time, but they were so overwhelmed.We spoke for a while before the two of them hit the bed. It’s not like I had energy to pull an all nighter either. I went to my room by instinct. I was in my sanctuary after a month. But it didn’t feel the same. On second thought, I went to my parent’s, pulled out the mini-bed from under theirs and assumed the “run over frog on a highway” pose to sleep. It felt peaceful. Being with them was positively better than “me time”.Those few minutes before sleep that day were among the most precious ones in my life. That moment life had come a full circle.I can’t make blanket statement on behalf of other families, but it looks like some some good old distance brought mine together, closer than before.