So, a nice perk of the recent move to India has been the opportunity to live with my parents again, after being away from home for more than a decade. When I was first considering job options in India, my parents had professed their support by “offering” to come live with me wherever I found work. At the time, the offer felt vaguely threatening, possibly because I was just not ready to give up the freedom I had found in living by myself in a totally different country. I couldn’t conceive giving it up to live under the same roof as my parents again. Sure, things would be different from when I was a teen – I’d have my own money this time, for one, and surely parents don’t chase after lazy 30-year-olds the same way they do after lazy teenagers (right?), but still, the thought was intimidating, to say the least.
They say things work out when they have to, and cut to two years later, I wasn’t finding the prospect of moving back home all that scary anymore. In fact, I was maybe even looking forward to it. I thought about all the practical benefits it would bring – having people around to take care of the cooking, to supervise household administration (maids, groceries, utilities, etc.), to be present in the house for mid-day deliveries, to help drive me around to places (I refuse to drive in Bangalore) – it would be a life I hadn’t experienced since I was 18. I wouldn’t have to do every single thing on my own.
And, of course, there was that intangible element – that of having my parents around at all times to talk to whenever I wanted, to seek counsel in person, to eat meals at a dinner table (as opposed to in my bedroom in front of a computer), to just be part of a family again. I think I was too wrapped up in the idea of freedom and independence when I was a teenager to consider what I would be losing when I left home, but coming back has brought some of those things back to me. Do I regret going away? Not at all. If anything, spending a decade by myself has made me a stronger person and given me a kind of confidence in myself that I may never have gained if I’d never left. But, as a kind of bonus, it is also now helping me better appreciate the comfort, support and love my parents have always provided. After all, absence does make the heart grow fonder, no?
Life is different now, but in an interesting way. Those practical benefits are nothing compared to just being around my parents again. It’s nice to know that no matter how much time passes, some things don’t change. (I still get told off for getting up late, albeit in much gentler tones than before.) I think a part of them still looks at me as the same child who left 10 years ago – it’s like time hasn’t passed in between. On my part, I’m starting to realise that as different as I am from my 18-year old self (I earn money, I make sensible, well-thought-out decisions, I’m nowhere near as lazy as I used to be), I’m not that much different in other ways.
Right now, my parents are away on holiday and I’m home alone, and I’m starting to feel the beginnings of a slight illness, and all I can think about is how nice it would be to have Mom around to hug me and feed me and take care of me. Really, in some ways, it doesn’t matter how old I get or how much money I earn or how independent I become. In some ways, I will always be their baby.