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Setting up home alone

20 Apr 2019 | 12:35 AM

Traversing the road to independence wasn’t easy,” says Seeta Raman, “strewn as it was with a lot of difficulties and resistance.

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Purnima Sharma

Traversing the road to independence wasn’t easy,” says Seeta Raman, “strewn as it was with a lot of difficulties and resistance.” Speaking about her decision to shift out of her parents’ home to an apartment of her own in the same city, the 29-year-old MNC executive says,  “What really became the bone of contention was why should I move just 20 km away when I have a room of my own?” Her father even offered to build a separate unit for her on the floor above theirs. But, having weighed the pros and cons of her decision, Raman was clear about what she wanted. “Much as I love my parents, I wanted a firsthand experience of life, not a smoothed out filtered version handed out to me by them,” she says.

Looking back at her decision made about three years ago, Raman insists that her parents were more worried about how the neighbours and relatives would react.

“Although they still haven’t understood my reasons for moving out, they’ve come to accept it,” she smiles. And to tell the world there was no friction or rancor would, from the outset, she often takes her parents to her apartment. “I want them to know that although my love for them can never abate, I am happy and content being on my own too.”

Raman is among the growing breed of youngsters who are flying the nest. Many do so to study, others to work in another city. But to move out to a new house in the same city is a decision that parents are likely to question. “Although, being a defence officer, I am okay with Niyati’s decision to go it alone, her mother is not,” says Rajat Singh, whose daughter shifted out last year. Having lived in hostels all her life, the 25-year-old was used to her independence. “Staying away from the protected environs of a home or hostel is the first step towards life as an adult. It’s ‘life-education’ and will stand her in good stead all her life,” — is something he is sure of.

Staying in a protected environment not only does not let you become responsible, it also restricts your mental and emotional growth, insist many of those spoken to. “I am sure parents know this in their heart of hearts but are more scared about what people around will say,” adds Raman, who has never regretted her decision to leave home. “Despite what many continue to think, there was no friction that compelled me to leave. And whenever I feel homesick or crave for my mom’s food, I go back over a weekend.”

But, not all youngsters are lucky. When Archana Pal broached the subject with her mother, hell broke loose. “She just wouldn’t hear of it. ‘Get married and then leave,’ she said.” The 31-year-old college lecturer’s decision to shift base was dictated mainly because of the distance she had to traverse daily. “My mother would be okay if I get a flat on the college premises (because then my move would have got a modicum of respectability) — but not anywhere outside.”

While many young people like Pal succumb to parental pressure because, as she says, “our society isn’t ready for such moves — not just of girls but even boys shifting out”, those who do “become all the better for it,” says Shweta Tiwari, who packed her bags when she was about 26 years old soon after a heated argument over her unwillingness to meet prospective grooms and “wanting to concentrate just on my career instead”.

Contrary to what many may think, “Setting up a separate home is not about staying away from parental interference, going out for late-night parties, smoking or drinking. I’m not into any of that. But yes, I do enjoy the sense of independence staying alone gives me. It’s a journey of self-discovery,” adds Tiwari. “Today, ironically, unlike before, I’ve became fairly close to my parents. And next month, will be off for a European holiday with them.”

Practical reasons were the propelling factors that led Lakshana Palat find a place close to her new office. “My parents were the ones to suggest this as driving for more than a 100 km everyday would have taken a toll on my health.” The media professional, who shares a home with two flatmates, visits her parents every other weekend. And it’s her mom, she turns to at the drop of a hat — be it about whether it’s a good idea to buy a hand-held mop or to have smoothies or sandwiches for dinner. “The experience of staying alone makes you responsible for your decisions, judicious about money matters, and yes, also makes you a good judge of the people around you”.

Daljeet Kaur would agree. Soon after her father gifted her a plot of land and helped her build a house, she’s been managing things on her own. “I think dad is quite proud of the way I, singlehandedly, manage my tenants — haul them up when they’re using excess electricity and water, etc,” she laughs. 

Remembering the time she moved out of her parents’ home, she says, “My mother begged and cajoled me to change my mind but I had to sit her down and explain that this was something I had to do for my own self — it had nothing to do with the influences of Hollywood films or Western bestsellers.”

But, of course, both Palat and Kaur say that staying alone has its downside too. It’s quite a drag when you get up and there’s no one to make that morning cuppa. Or do the laundry. Or keep a piping hot dinner ready when you get back home tired. But then, that’s part of life’s education!

Expertspeak

Societal changes such as these should be welcomed and not looked at with a cynical eye, says  clinical psychiatrist Dr Sanjay Chugh. “I think parents of those in their late twenties and early thirties who’re still unmarried would be surprised to see how well their children can manage things. After all, they’re at an age when most people a few decades ago would have not just been married but also had kids,” says the clinical psychiatrist who has been observing this trend for quite some time now. Ask him why there’s this compelling need in some to move and he says, “It could even be something like paucity of space at home. And as grown-ups now, they want their me-time and me-space more than ever. And with quite a bit of disposable income on their hands, they feel they can afford to move into an independent house and live on their own, at least till they get married.” Although many parents would brush aside this concept as an “unfortunate and bad influence from the West”, Dr Chugh gives it a thumbs-up. “I don’t see anything wrong with this — after all, living separately is helping these youngsters become responsible individuals.” And for those who frown upon this new concept, he says, “They must realise that with the age for marriage having shot up by several years now, these youngsters want to discover themselves before settling down. They want to travel, explore new possibilities and generally live life the way they want to without their actions being scrutinised all the time.”

(Names of some persons have been changed to protect their identity)

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