I wake up to the alarms I set. I take a bath, make my own breakfast, and carry on with my day. At the very least, it appears as though I live all by myself. But that’s only partially true. I live with my family, but I do live by myself. It’s tough to condense my home structure into a single word, so I found two that come close – dysfunctional family.
For about 15 years of my existence, my home was the quintessential urban family- working parents, two children, and a strong rule against owning pets. We were adequately traditional but not in the restrictive sense. And our relationship with the divinity was optional. And I thank god for the privileges.
Somehow, somewhere something happened. Though my memory is sufficiently vivid, I try to not think of the day it all began. Today, after about a decade of practice, I suspected it to get easier. But isn’t practice voluntary? But its accompanying worries occupy the pedestal and beneath them, I stand, involuntarily. And this morning, it rained. Not like a thunderstorm but like a silently intense drizzle, it rained.
I tried to find solace in people who I thought would understand things I couldn’t elucidate– my closest friends. Amidst everything that happens for a reason and fatalistic clichés that failed to placate me, I experienced a major shift in our dynamics. I wasn’t on equal footing with many anymore. I was held in untold contempt of – culture, religion, and all things with which my parents supposedly tainted god’s green earth. And of course, there were the armchair advisors and curious cats to spice things up:
“Why don’t you turn vegetarian and prevent all this?”
“No, I am not judging, but are these things normal in your family?”
I understand not everyone hymns concern in the same tune. But some tunes are funny. And some tunes have a whole different rhythm. Little did I know that a fiasco at home was all it would take for me to distinguish between being offered help and actually being helpful.
I know I had no hand in breaking my parent’s marriage. Yet I refuse to feign optimism on the face of tragedy. That’s a shame. No, not my adamance, but the taboo built around broken homes. And my parent’s psychiatric prescriptions couldn’t quite bond the shards of my shattered sense of security. All it did was burden with me a secret I hide because of the shame that tails along.
Fortunately, my neighbourhood permitted anonymity. And my anti-social family redeemed it on all possible occasions. We wouldn’t go about borrowing cups of curds or distribute sweets when I aced my board exams. The same reflected during PTA meetings. My parents cared the least bit about socialising. And it irked me because I thought I missed out on something very important to me – gossip. Luckily for me, most people around me led boring lives.
Currently, one parent of mine is estranged. And I share my address with the other, but that’s all I can share with him. My emotions have grown and need more room. So, I had to renovate myself, but the damage continues to remain intact. To the outside world, my near-completed renovation is a trustworthy shade of maturity. To me, there was no other option.
Each time I am invited to a game of truth or dare, I shudder a bit. What if I am asked why my house is always undergoing touch-up, pest-control, or construction? Should I spill the beans or carry on with my charade? Though sometimes spilling the beans has managed to strengthen my friendships, this dilemma continues to haunt me. It makes me feel inauthentic, more so because I am known to never mince my words. But like my closest friend would put have it, none of this is the end of the world, I know that life does go on and on.
And it is not as though I am perpetually sad. I smile, I laugh, and I don’t turn sentimental at the sight of family photos on social media or become emotional when people talk of marriages. But sometimes I do wonder if I am an a-romantic or just plain scared of love. Never in my wildest dreams, did it occur to me that the mundane can, in fact, be the most special of things.