I am one of those in my Fabulous 40s, single by choice & living with my parents. Now, now, I know many may think there is a catch in this last part. Well, I am NOT alone. I live with ageing parents & every day is a double bonus.
Most men, atleast in India live with their parents till they get old. It has been our tradition or in modern times most aged are forced with their children’s families. This concept somehow has always been accepted in our society. The thought of me being in 40s & living with parents is something that tickles many a fool. I can imagine my western friends, NOT Indians born abroad or migrated. I mean foreigners, if they were to laugh I completely understand. The concept of living independent is a done thing. However, the Latin American & other Asian people do live like us Indians. Taking care of the parents, in-laws, this is also something they do. However back home in Amchi Mumbai people think my types are losers…! They presume life must be tough, full of issues.
In my neighbourhood there are plenty of single women, some really aged living with their parents. And that invariably means like a taboo. Let me tell you there is a saying, “A son is a son till along comes the wife, your daughter is someone who lives all your life.”
Now the wordings may be here or there, but that’s the gist of the saying. Earlier, in my neighbourhood there were 2 women. One bank official who was kadak, strict & she had a voice. She would terrorise her mother & her brother’s family. Who went to US, never to return. Her immediate neighbour found someone after 45 years & most thought it to be the biggest achievement in her life.
My childhood friend UT lives opposite my house & she is single. Below her lives a family of few siblings, all single & they have 2 sisters who are single. There are stray cases around our house. Then another buddy who lives at the end of the road & she too is single. Yes we are single women & living with our aged parents by choice.
I agree the society isn’t so welcoming about this, but you know what, I care an ant’s ass for what others think. And whatever others may say in Mumbai city this is a growing social phenomenon. Are social thinkers, gender specialists taking note of it, addressing it, are there enough support structures within our families & society at large to address it, for all it is a BIG NO. This is not individual cases where we are addressing these issues. But by & large safety, social security, family support structures are missing.
Older single women, living with their ageing parents is something that really needs to be recorded. Even single parents, especially working women who may have shifted homes, countries & have to look after their children, parents & moreover themselves. And it is more challenging for them because they also have to maintain the equations in their marriage. Why this is important, because on many fronts I think the age-old misconception that single women & also living with parents was seen as something negative is bullshit. The phenomenon was based on ancient Hindu thought decided by a man (who I think was debauched , frustrated) called Manu. So it was then considered that an unmarried is actually a witch, someone who has bad influence. This changed into single woman as frustrated or worse still a slut.
There is nothing of that sort, negative or ill about this social reality. And I think it is very, very enriching. I mean I consider myself very, very lucky to live with my parents. With all our troubles, all our tribulations that each has gone through in their lives I feel so much cared for. I mean even at this age I have a father who waves out & while I turn round the bend & doesn’t go inside the house. I have an aai who cooks for me something in the morning as I return from my walk, so that I get something nice & hot to eat. She is practical & tells me sternly the right & wrong. A baba who ensures i don’t have to struggle in the house apart from the work & takes on more than he should.
We have our ups & downs. We have our nice altercations, though with age & time they decrease. Yes, they nearly cease. With passage of time you realise their company is more important than anything else. Everyday is a blessing & bonus for me. I agree my life’s only ambition, so-called goal is to make my parents happy & ensure everyday they feel blessed to be alive. I am blessed to be alive & kicking in their midst.
It is not at all easy. More over when you see the father who made you walk on the inside of the road to protect you, now has switched positions. He needs protection too. My father made me realise this 10 years ago, “I see now my daughter wants to protect me, I can’t protect is it.” I am just doing something my role model did. When I see parents walking on the road with their kids on the outside left to face on-coming traffic, I shudder to think will they have their children doing the same? How Scary is that?
I have parents who are active, who feel loads of pains in their joints & knees when they walk, descend, pick up things. But they continue to work. Baba tells me aai can’t do things & she has no strength. She was always lean, she has become frail. But like baba, aai also says, “We will become stiff, like vegetables if we don’t take effort.” Its scary, everyday.
Aai was always slow. Well, she was clear the world doesn’t stop for her or change for her, so she will do exactly what she wants at her speed & pace. While father is of diametrically opposite view that we can make the change, we have to do things on our own & be quick. Hahaha, well life teaches & both are not wrong. Except with passage of time the speeds vary with the corresponding stage.
The one thing I know is as we grow old with our parents we are still learning. The ONE big factor being we are the ones who have to adapt & actually it is healing & helps. Our core values, ethics remain intact when we have someone older telling us whether we are right, wrong & the consequences of our choices even at this stage. We all need it. I realised a few months ago, with demise of my dear friend CD how lonely I had become. Who does one trust & how much should one share with another? Well I agree I don’t tell everything anymore to my parents, simple because I don’t want them worrying, having sleepless nights.
But I do have someone to share. They are my sound board. They are the ones who keep me grounded. And like my father says, “There is only path, it is straight & keep to that.” “We won’t get what we deserve, what we expect, such is life Neeta. But you can’t quit that path.” I have faced tricky trying situations at work. I know that most will laugh at me when I say my father (in my fab 40s) has denied me permission to buy a cycle. Awww, don’t laugh. You all have a husband there who’s permission you HAVE to take. I still can bulldoze my parents & take my own decisions. I won’t have them chewing my brains at night. Try doing it with your spouse..haha…either husband or wife. Plus even with your spouse & children there is only that much you can share. There is always only our parent who understands, has seen us grow & renews that faith in us. That makes you understand a wider perspective. This is so vital for the growth & overall development of a human being to become more caring and more so becoming selfless. It helps in adjusting & being emotionally enriched.