I must be the oldest Indian man staying with his parents now.
Domicile: With Amma and Achan.
Now, I might as well chop my balls off and feed it to a camel.
As you might have noticed, I have not been very regular here for the last month. I am of course assuming that there are millions around the world, who finds my absence disturbing. There must be a whole bunch of twitters, twitting around desperately asking: whatever happened to tys?
One can dream in a self inflicted delusion of one’s own importance.
Truth is my wife and children have gone back to India for good.
Now those who have been regulars here, (yep, you two), this is a regular occurrence in my house hold. My wife leaves me once in every 3 years. The reasons are mostly to do with children's education, illness in her family etc...
Truth is , anyone who has had the misfortune to be with me on a continuous basis will understand the desire for a long, really long vacation. Why do you think my parents put me in a boarding school when I was 4?
But I am kind of addictive like a bad habit, so she always comes back.
During the few days that she’s away, I run around like R.K.Laxman's dog. I walk around in my boxer shorts, eating directly from the fridge, peeing in the sink ...well, behaving more or less like a bloke.
3 days later it gets boring. There’s no fun in being undisciplined if there’s no one to thwack you on the head.
But this time she’s really gone for good. To make the point clear we have even shipped off everything from our apartment back to India. This time it’s really about the children's education.
Most Indians like salmons, return to their country of birth for education, marriage and death. Well, not entirely like salmons, since they just come back home to lay their eggs and to perhaps shop for banana chips.
That left me in an empty apartment with a mattress on a pallet, a table lamp, a table for the lamp, 15 books, one bottle of Jack Daniel, 1 glass ,a cat and a turtle called , wait for it, Shelly.
Living in an empty flat is like being a squatter. You occupy a tiny corner in a large place. When the night falls, with the curtain drawn, you feel almost like Robert Neville of I am Legend. Tanked up with enough booze, one can feel truly alone. As if you are the last man on the planet.
I have the flat till the end of the month.
The plan was to move in with my parents after that. Being parents, they couldn’t resist the idea of having their errant middle child back home, even though he now sports grey chin brush and a humongous beer belly. So I was forced to move in earlier than I thought. My lil bachelor pad remained there as a place of refuge if things got outta hand.
Outta hand it did.
You know what’s the scariest thing to happen to you when you are middle aged? No, it’s not waking up to find Angelina Jolie sleeping next to you.
It’s waking up one day to realize that you have turned into your father/mother.
Somewhere between 5 and 14, most parents would have already fallen from their children’s pedestal. From super mums and my daddy the strongest, they tend to become a bothersome necessity, then an embarressment, that slowly evolves into everything wrong the society stands for and finally a liability.
By the time, we reach adulthood and have our own family, our parents become the vacation place, or they in their bid to cling on to the only life they by now know, (you), will become your children’s nanny. This is how it is. It’s not a sad state of affairs; it’s just a kink in the wheel. There was a reason why in ancient times, the old , after having dispensed with their responsibilities as parents , retired to the jungles to spend the last of their days immersed in self enquiry.
Which probably would have been repeatedly asking themselves: Why?
Now, in absence of jungles, we have retirement homes.
Now, in my case, things were different. We never did spend too much time with our parents. My brothers and I lived a major part of our lives in boarding schools and spending most of our vacations shuttling from relatives to relatives. It was by no means a deprived childhood. In fact it was a rich experience. We were loved and parented by so many people. So it was pretty cool. Moreover it gave us a perfect weapon to hurt our parents with our so called abandonment issues. Yeah right.
Spending time with parents was the high light of our lives. For short periods. After having spent a lifetime being independent, there’s only so much one is willing to bear in the name of love. We were probably, that minority, who could not wait for the schools to open after 20 days of being with our parents. It’s not we that we were not enjoying the time we had with them. It’s just that we were not used to it.
So you grow up watching your parents and promising yourself that you will never become like them. It’s not meant in a mean way. It’s like knowing that there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet and you can become a limerick if you want, even if your parents are novels. It’s like you are aware what you are dealt with, by just observing your parents.
And you may be proud of them, you may love them to bits, but whatever happens you do not want to become like them.
I didn’t too.
So my first day in my parents’ house, brought the weirdest news home to me. I am my father's twin.
This is scary. I had spent 42 years consciously trying not to end up like him. He’s a great father, but he looks like a silverback on a good day. He overindulges himself on every habit he has. When he drinks, he drains the bar. When he had a heart attack, he lit up the moment he was out of the ICU. He feels that his life has to be lived according to his own yardstick. He is self centered, arrogant, given to sudden flare ups that can make you run a mile, and can surprise you with great acts of kindness and sacrifices when he’s in the mood for it.
The worst part is he even looks like me.
And to clinch the deal, we can’t spend 15 minutes in the same room together. This man is me. I totally can’t stand me.
That bachelor pad of mine is beginning to look more and more attractive.
Even that stupid cat.
Probably Shelly too.