I am home alone for the next 3 weeks and that’s become a pain in the wrong places for me. It seems that after marriage, the woman (in this case, its me) is largely perceived as someone who needs to be taken care of and protected from the big bad world.
Weird …. as before marriage, when I lived in hostel in Pune, I was told to be brave and face the world on my own. Every time I remarked about staying alone, away from family, I was corrected by my mom that this was my chance to learn the invaluable lessons of life that are so important for girls. For the records, I did love every single moment that I spent in Pune studying, and even working.
Today, the same mother frets over me and does not forget to remind me to keep my apartment doors and windows locked and chained. “Don’t just open the door to anyone,” she reminds me twice a day over the phone, “First peek through the door hole and even then kep the door chained and open only if you know the visitor.” The conversation also has to include at least one reminder about “not opening the door” to any male visitor after 9 pm, which includes the laundry guy, the grocery delivery boy or even the building guard who comes by to drop the mail or utility bills.
I still remember the day when after my HSC results (I was about 18 years old), I was “dropped” at my hostel by dad. He gave me a simple brief – here’s the monthly pocket money that you will require. He said, He started a bank account in my name at the local bank branch (my first ATM card came only a year later). Pointing to the paying-guest accommodation, my dad said, “That’s where you will live.” He also bought the basic kitchen utensils (one saucepan, one frying pan, one coffee mug and 6 spoons), a bedding, a plastic bucket with matching tumbler and complete series of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie to shift in the PG. And later that evening, my dad left. I was “facing the world”, or so my mom told every one who asked her about me.
Now, after marriage, when I am “facing the world” in Mumbai (a city where I think living alone for a woman is far more easier than any other Indian metro), I am constantly reminded by my mom, mother-in-law, father, sister, friends, and whoever else has the time to think about me has different pieces of advice for me. My father and parents-in-laws have agreed among themselves that I should apply for a leave at work and join my husband in Hong Kong as soon as I can (PS: It does not occur to them that I have to apply for leave and then also wait for my boss to grant me the same). My mom thinks that I should just abandon all my professional commitments and quickly get to Delhi where she can take care of me.
My sister thinks this is the time that I should come and visit her in Chicago (She does not give a damn to details like spending a whopping amount of money on acquiring the US visa and tickets)…My friends, well not all of them, think that I should throw the towel in completely and take time off my career to start a family.
I lived in Pune for about five years, studying and working, commuting at odd hours, shifting PG’s, shuttling between one college to work to another hobby class…but I was not fussed about. Instead, I was reminded by all and sundry that these were the things that will come handy in my life later. And I think they are coming handy. I know how to bargain with cheating taxi drivers, I know how to handle the work pressures between bosses and I don’t squirm in discomfort when it comes staying alone at night — even when Mumbai rains lash out at my windows.