You know what’s funny?
Too many (Indian) women of our generation never had the opportunity to live on our own. We went from living with our parents to living with our husband’s families or with our husbands.
We never got a break or even a proper transition between these roles unless we had lived in a university hotel. Most of us didn’t get to live in a shared flat in a different city like many young girls these days do once they get a job. And live-in relationships were these scandalous setups that we saw (and maybe even secretly wanted?) in American soap operas.
Meanwhile, there were quite a few of us who weren’t waiting to get married; and we fantasized about having a little flat to ourselves and managing a little household all by ourselves.
I remember having this calendar with pictures of European cities and I was extremely fascinated by a picture of Amsterdam with its canals and bikes and I used to dream about having a job there and living all by myself in a little attic flat facing a canal, carrying home the shopping, cooking, reading, sipping wine in the evening….you know how that goes :)
The Curve Ball
Getting Started By Myself
When I left to live on my own, I had enough money saved up from my job and I could manage well with it, but that was the least of my problems. Finding a flat wasn’t that easy in Delhi NCR.
Ah, why Delhi NCR and why not Kolkata, my hometown? I knew Delhi well from my 3-month sabbatical leave when I taught with Teach For India. I also had friends who would help me in my new venture and most importantly, I didn’t want to be close to my family in India who, I knew, would bombard me with questions.
Believe me, I had to face some rather unpleasant questions from flat owners owing to my “married yet single” status but I was prepared for them.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the other intrusive comments I was told, especially by family and friends:
How did I deal with all of this? On the inside, I laughed.
But on the outside, I became a stoic as far as the questions were concerned. I never even felt the need to justify.
The only remark that used to get my goat was “he let you?”
I had major problems with the word “let” and I still do. It reeks heavily of me being my husband’s possession and implies a concept of partnership that I abhor.
But with time, I stopped getting worked up. I realized it’s hard for people to look beyond the known rules set by society, let alone question them.
So How’d it End?
What’s also happened is that a sense of detachment grew inside me; a Zen-like detached attachment to things and people. Because, as it turned out, I really loved being on my own.
I felt this immense peace engulf me when I returned home, put the 3 locks on the door, showered, had dinner and climbed into bed with a good book or to meditate.
Have I grown more egoistic or selfish in the process? No. And I feel complete in myself with a lot more love in my heart to give. But yes, I have become highly selective of where to give this love.
At the end of the day, I feel it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever taken for myself. But to this date, I’m still trying to understand whether my detachment is a good or a bad thing. Does it have to be either? What do you think?