The last time I moved, I was running away. I was in rage. I was hurt. And I was stubborn. I wanted to teach a lesson to someone, not realising that I was the one who needed to learn the most important lesson. I wanted to be independent, strong and savage enough to show that I was capable of “moving out” when everyone else resorted to marriage for company, stability and social acceptance. “You cant be alone, you’re a woman. You’ll always have to have someone”, is what I hear when I voice my unorthodox schemes. I wanted to prove the adults and relatives wrong, that you don’t need a man (/woman) to be fulfilled, and that you could do it alone by yourself, and for yourself. I thought I was right. My friend said, “I’m so proud of you and I always thought among us you’ll be the boldest person to move out first,” When I thought she was going to congratulate me, she said “But don’t do it in rage, and in spite, to prove anyone a point. You do it not to hurt anyone, but to heal yourself,” And she was right. I was doing it for someone else, and to prove a point and to show everyone that it can be done. It can be done. Because it must be done, at one point in my life. But there is a right way. A peaceful way, when you accept that you need a solution not to get out of a situation, not to escape from a situation, but to be welcomed into a one.
When I was in high school, me and my two closest friends used to love to eat vegetable roti from the canteen. That was the only food we could afford, and also the only edible. We didn’t have much money, the odd 40 rupees to go in the bus and the rare 100 rupees to help ourselves to a yogurt drink/or chocolate biscuit before horrible A/L economics class (which we passed, surprisingly with B’s and C’s.) Seeing our hobo existence, our french teacher took pity on us and “lent” i.e. gave money to buy roti. She gave us 20’s and 10’s so that we could add it to our current state of 20’s or less, and go buy ourselves some roti. And by God, that is what we did. We went and got ourselves some fulfilling roti. We vowed to ourselves, that we’d one day have enough money to go and eat really awesome food -and hopefully- in really fancy posh places. Seven years later, by a crazy series of events, fate and miracles, we can. We’ve got decent jobs that pay us decent money to learn and to travel and to eat. And to this day, we look at those fateful days out, under the hot sun at school eating vegetable roti and thank our lucky stars. By heaven and earth, we are lucky. By some fateful events, we’re here, now, in the crazy and wonderful and terrifying moment called now. We are alive, and we have potential and we are blessed. Each and every one of us. We are blessed to be able to wake up today and breathe in the world as of now. Yes, we have problems. Who doesn’t? But we survived. We’re surviving, and that is beautiful in itself and something to be proud of.
There is no emotion that is equal to the one you get when you move into your own home. Not the one that your parents brought you up in. No, that one is special in its own way. It’s special in how it embraces you after a hard day of work, protects you when you collapse on your own bed and someone, usually your mom, brings in hot tea or announces that dinner is ready. That’s what heaven is made out of. I mean the one where you pay rent with your own hard earned money, the one that you had been dreaming of when you were wide awake but had no idea what it looked like until you step into it for the first time, key in hand, your own name and address on the post box. You’re on your own, tiger. Your heart says as it thuds softly inside your chest cavity. You can almost hear it out loud, outside your eardrums because suddenly, everything, all senses are multiplied. And you’re much more aware of your surroundings and your situation. It’s a little like being in love. I am worried and happy and concerned and exhilarated all at the same time. It’s not the first time, but the second for me, but it feels unfamiliar, if not worse than the first time. My insecurities are unnumbered and plastered across electricity bills and rent and grocery shopping lists. What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay rent? What if I can never get out of paying rent? What if I can’t sleep alone in a house when my mother isn’t here? What if I can’t do this and I fail again? But my excitement cannot be contained inside my body too. I can’t feel my fingers as I walk on the street, knowing that some place on this little island that I’d call home, I have my own little place where I can retreat to. With my own little fridge and oven and wooden table and one piece sofa. And fairy lights. Did I mention fairy lights?
It’s cute and fuzzy to be inspired by tumblr posts and pinterest pictures of cute bedrooms with book shelves and comfy sofas and god bless them, a camping tent strung up with old bedsheets and hang fairy lights. But its another thing entirely that you hunt for cheap fairy lights (or Vesak / Christmas lights as the layman knows) comparing prices in Arpico (495/Rs) and in the small hardware kade (260/Rs) next to it, to be hung in a small bright cave that has your name in it. I’ve had my own room for as long as I remember, but I’d hardly ever done anything with it, save for the two paintings done by two friends with me in mind. I hadn’t thought of it much, although I got plenty inspiration from my friends to do something unique with it. I’ve collected empty loo rolls and pine cones and sea shells from my travels hoping that I’d some day do something creative with it, never putting any commitment to it. I don’t know if I’ll change over night and be creative with these but hey, I have a place to hang fairy lights, and even loo rolls and pine cones.
My place has green walls to compliment its green garden, a bright yellow living room to complement my mood and a slow blue in the bedroom to lull me to sleep. There is pink and orange splashed across the corridors too, with a bright red polished floor that connects it all. It’s a whole different experience, an emotional kaleidoscopic adventure, with fairy lights! The road that leads to it, has an electricity pole smack dab in the middle of the road much like the light pole that is at the entrance to Narnia. What more of a fairytale would you ask for? My friend said her sister had said the same thing when she’d move in with her husband and got fairy lights to her place. That it was scary and exciting at the same time. She said there were so many expenses, ones she’d never incur when she was with them, single as a pringle. The numbers would just add up, and before you know it, you’d be at your budget’s mercy. My mother says the same thing. She says there will be expenses, which I could have otherwise saved and invested in getting my own house one day, as apposed to a rented one. My own house, with its own bright coloured walls and silly wall hangings and fairy lights and whatever else I want to hang in it. I thought about it too, and agree whole-heartedly. But its also okay to first experience a little bit of freedom, a little bit of exposure as to what it feels like in the real world. To have your own little thing, no matter how small it is, no matter how scary it is and no matter what other people say. I think its a little like the vegetable roti that my friends and I so eagerly tasted and yearned for, and on which we built our dreams upon and worked hard for. You taste it and you want more, and you work on it yourself so that one day, if not for vegetable rotis and yogurts, you will have a full blown biriyani with extra kaju on top!
Funny story, and here’s how I know everything will be alright. I was in Arpico browsing the aisles to see the heart-wrenching prices I’d have to pay for home stuff (which I already have btw, since I’d moved before! lol) I heard the song, “I dare you to move”, by Switchfoot, a song I haven’t heard in years, which brought me back fond memories of being a rebellious teenager. And I paused near the pyrex bowls and glassware to sway to the song. You know how sometimes the radio would play the most appropriate song? Your playlist would just stumble upon a song that interprets what you’re feelings through sound? When you’re in love or you’ve just broken up? Or you’re dancing in the club or you’re down in the dumps like you’re going to slit your wrists but pause because the artist is making sound out of what you’re feeling right now? And you know. You know there’s someone else who feels the same way and you’re holding a trump card, a key to the universe because you’re not alone. ❤
Writer’s note: There are so many things that could go wrong when you move out. There is a reason why our culture has survived thus far, it is because we’ve done things a certain way thus far. And its worked for us. Children live with their parents until they’re married (or till they’re 40 or both) and are ready to live with their partner because its so so doable. It’s safe and its what’s “practical”. Sharing expenses and responsibility in a household is so much easier when you have someone else. Doing it by yourself, or with a housemate/s, now that’s something beyond the norm, beyond what has worked for our “culture” for so long. Especially for women. How will you do things right? How will you ward off prying men? How will you fix a light bulb without your family or your husband? Well, that’s kind of what we need to learn. Moving out and having your own place has its perks too. It comes bundled with a lot of life lessons, about security and survival that no other action will ever put you through quite like it. Every time I talk about it with my aunt, my guardian angel, I always say, “Thaniwai upanne, thaniwai marenne” (We are born alone, and we will die alone too) Isn’t that the point of life? To survive alone, and not lonely? We are comforted with company for some amount of time in our lives. Some are lucky (and unlucky, depending on how you look at it) to be with others all the time, and other’s aren’t. Some women do it really well. My aunt, my mom and so many of my female friends, women who’ve escaped horrible situations or who are looking for brighter ones. And they’re all around us. They’ve been doing it, with or without our say so and they’ve been doing it right and right throughout. Even men for that matter. My uncle who’s living on his own paying rent and eating and sleeping and cooking the way he wants to. He walks bottom-less in his own living room because he can. And he wears pants when someone’s over because he wants to. I have male friends who live on their own, away from their families, paying rent and making their own damn sandwiches or a 3 course meal for that matter. It’s not because they don’t love their families, oh no. Far from it, really. (Our parents and loved ones shouldn’t take it as an act of defiance, but an act of acceptance.) It’s for various reasons. Some are closer to their jobs when they moved out. Others are away from nosy/annoying neighbours, relatives and even own family. Some don’t have their own patch of land with their name written across the deed. But most are just looking for happiness in their own little place.
I can’t even imagine. I used to ask them, “Doesn’t it scare you?”, and they’d say, “Yes, every single day”. In a land that is shrinking faster than your bank account and with land value rising parallel to diabetes levels of an ever increasing population, it scares them to be alone by themselves. It worries them that they are paying rent when others, luckier ones have their own homes or whatever was willed off to them by their rich/forward-thinking parents. It scares them that they can’t save the money that they use on rent to buy their own house. But its also exhilarating. Like an adventure, a maze that we need to solve before the time runs out.
P.s. I’d named the blog “Your home sweet home” before I remembered the song, and changed it to this, what I think is more appropriate and more Bollywood style cuz there is a sound track for everything, including major weddings and funerals as well as poya and other mercantile holidays. 😀