Growing up, I had always been under strict supervision. If I had to go out with my friends on their birthdays, taking permission well before their birthday month kicked in was a must (and a dreadful experience, goodness!) aur nightouts toh bhool hi jao!
I longed for life as chilled out as my friends', I longed for freedom. Freedom from questions, freedom to live my life on my own terms.
And then, a life-altering event took place in my life.
I moved to a different city to pursue my Masters. I looked forward to moving away. I wanted to start living MY life. Setting foot in a brand new city felt like an exciting adventure I wanted to embark on, one that came with its own set of problems but one that allowed me to breathe and be my own person.
Or so I thought!
For the first few days, there was excitement about eating whatever I wanted (MAGGI!) and going out whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted, with whomever I wanted. Without having to inform anyone.
I didn't have to think of a hundred lies to cover the thousands I had told before, all to stay out till midnight. I could simply walk out the door and come back whenever.
I was having a blast! I was independent, I was taking my own decisions, I was buying my own groceries, I was in charge of myself. I was killing it.
Small things like ordering out every second day felt liberating. Speaking to my friends late night, loudly, felt liberating. Night outs were commonplace now.
A few days in, it was all a wonder.
But even in the midst of all this shine and sparkle, it hit me.
I missed home.
And it took me only a few days' time to figure out that what I missed about home the most was my mother. I missed going out shopping with her, even if it was for groceries. I missed our one-on-one time. I missed the cozy evenings with her, sitting in bed, (not) watching TV and gossiping away.
I missed arguing with her over unnecessary things, I missed her snoring away while she "watched" her K-serials (and woke up the minute I tried to take the remote).
I missed giving her goodnight hugs and her understanding of my ever so grumpy early morning face.
I even missed her straight face and passive-aggressive taunts when I made the grave mistake of sleeping beyond 11:00 am.
I missed everything.
The worst were the weekends, the two days I used to look forward to, once upon a time, were days I dreaded. I missed the times I could easily spend the day with my mom.
It wasn't just me, I could see how difficult this was for her as well. I realised how emotionally dependent we were on each other, especially me.
Over time, after losing one parent, my mother and I had held on to each other even more closely than before.
It wasn't just emotionally that I missed her. After I had my brief interaction with the real world, my respect for how she managed everything increased manifold.
Being away from home and her, I realised how hard my mother worked which made me miss her even more. Simple things like paying bills regularly or getting in touch with my maid was a task, a task I had seen my mother do flawlessly.
I had heaps of clothes lying around and laundry day was as dreaded as before, but it turns out, doing laundry alone without your Mum's silent cheer is pretty boring.
Living the independent life seemed rosy from the outside. In reality, it was simply lonely and overrated.
At a time when I could easily go out, I realised I actually didn't want to as much. I preferred staying in.
It's not like I didn't want to meet friends, I did; occasionally. But that was it. I did not want to socialise further, simply because I didn't see the need to. Partying now seemed superficial and tiring.
So now, instead of lying to go out, I was lying to stay home.
There was a time I could give anything to hang out with friends. But eventually, I stopped caring for pub-hopping, stopped caring about curfews. I was back home by 6:00 pm anyway. Socialising ultimately got exhausting.
In the middle of these overwhelming times, the one person I looked towards was my mom and the two years I was away from her, I felt I grew closer to her than ever before. We regularly spoke over the phone even when we had nothing to update each other about. We were almost always in touch. Apart from the calls, I texted her as soon as I got up and texted her goodnight before I fell asleep.
Now, I wanted to update her about my whereabouts, I wanted to tell her all about my day.
I would often think to myself, "Is staying away even worth it? All this time away from family, when neither of us is happy. Is it worth it?"
It all simply came down to me realising how much I had taken those carefree, happy days for granted.
I just wanted to get back home to her. For me, I realised, she was everything. And being away was not as exciting or freeing as I thought it would be.
Fast forward to now, I am back home with my mother and both of us are each other's rock. I look forward to coming home to her, look forward to spending weekends together.
My life did indeed alter. There I was thinking I will now be an independent being devoid of all restrictions. Little did I know that my perception would change completely.
Perhaps I am independent. Independent of the thought process that the supervision I was under was unnecessary and time away from family is more fun. I couldn't have been more wrong before.