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Cost of freedom?

It always amuses me how alien locals of metro cities behave when I tell them excitingly that my parents are coming just to meet me. They often shrug their shoulders as if to react- what’s the big deal? When I walk up to my boss asking for a half day or a leave to spend each and every hour with them, they too don’t understand. Probably the world is too used to listen to stories that lonely parents across the world have to tell about missing their kids on Holi, Diwali, and Christmas. Rarely does one come across the story of a young adult slipping into home sickness.

I remember exactly ten years ago when I was packing to leave home to join my dream college. Despite all the best wishes flowing in, I was numb. I did not know what to expect, how to react and most importantly, how to leave without hurting people and making them miss me. First few weeks at the hostel were definitely a honeymoon period, like a summer camp where we were busy bonding, doing activities together. But as kids, we are used to coming back home to narrate stories of our new friends, our adventures, and new learning. Perhaps the worst time is when suddenly you realize there is no going back. In fact, there is not a single thing you can cling to for comfort- everything is unknown, uncertain and you are left alone to pick up the pieces and solve the puzzle all by yourself.
The funniest thing is the gap in expectations from both the sides. First few months, my parents used to call me 3-4 times a day to ask me about my new life, how I am coping with new people etc. They expected a face to face conversation to be replaced by a phone call, a hug or cuddle to be changed into emoticons. They expected me to tell them everything the same way I did when I returned from school. However, nothing was same for me. I was angry, broken inside- still trying to figure out who’s a friend and who’s not because I did not have the choice of running away to home after every childish fight. There were days of depression when I would just pretend to be sleepy or fake irritation or frustration just to make my parents hang up so they don’t know I was crying because I knew they too miss me terribly. Every night out that I would take to party with my friends and on returning find 10 missed calls from my parents to know that I am home, I felt guilty. Every Holi or Diwali when I could not go home, all the lonely souls would gather at a place to do a make shift arrangement- fake a puja, make an abstract rangoli and try to bring all the memories live. But sheepishly would feel jealous and hide a tear looking at lucky kids still being pampered by their elders. Honestly, it’s great to be in-charge of everything but there are few occasions where you just wish to sit back and enjoy seeing your parents do the preparations. I can totally relate to why my parents would do budgeting and cost cutting every year during Durga puja just to visit their native.

Now that its ten years and I am habituated to this freedom and leading a life of my own, I do not miss home. Somehow I have started to believe home is where I can comfortably lie down with a laptop and headphone. In fact until last year when I visited home, I felt captivated because I was made to follow orders as if nothing has changed in last ten years but it has, in reality. I scream, I crib and I feel frustrated about everything- AC not working, Internet connection not up to the speed, boring job, too much work, blah, blah and blah but what I don’t tell them is that- I missed them terribly and there were days when I really wanted to run back to them. This was all I wanted them to know but being too weak to touch the touchy topic and start a melodrama, I preferred to make them realize that my fast track life does not leave me with any time for anyone. Happy and content to find me enjoying my life, they leave peacefully as if they never came but truth to be told, my life goes topsy-turvy. When you are given only 1-2 days to see the people who taught you to see the world, nothing can be more painful than the period that follows the meeting. I dropped them at the airport today and have at least found hundreds of things that I wanted to show my mom- a new dress I bought at an unbelievable price, a new painting that got a lot of likes, pictures from the most recent trip and the list goes on.


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