BUT ITâ€™S ALMOST NICE Parull Gossainâ€™s (left) friends tease her about living with her mom but she loves it. Ashok Shah (right) looks happy though he canâ€™t host parties.
Singles who love their parents too much to abandon them suffer the quirks of the aged and sacrifice the freedom of adulthood, say Ketan Tanna and Meena Iyer
Acommon perception is that singles enjoy considerable freedom. However, the truth is that many of them are forced by an Indian mindset to live with their parents, and as a consequence suffer the tantrums of the old. Caught between love for their parents and the madness of living with them, they go through a hellish domestic life.
Every day, before the break of dawn, Meena Krishnan feels the gentle nudge of her motherâ€™s elbow. â€œWake up, itâ€™s early morning,â€ her 76-year-old widowed mother Mangalam cheerfully announces. Itâ€™s another matter that Meena, an unmarried 47-year-old, had a late night and could do with some more sleep. But she gets up groggily and for the next few hours listens as her mother talks incessantly about this and that. â€œAll I want at that point is some peace and quiet. But I give in because she has nobody else to talk to,â€ says Meena. There are times when Meena snaps at her mother only to regret it for the full day. â€œShe loves ice-cream and I assuage my guilt by taking home her favourite flavour.â€
Sanjeev, a 35-year-old unmarried chartered accountant who does not want to reveal his full name, says that he moved in with his parents due to ill health. He is severely diabetic and has very high blood pressure. For some reason, his parents are very suspicious of him. They have locked all the cupboards except one and have refused to give him the keys. And, they do not believe that he is truthful about how much he earns. They accuse him of not giving them his full salary. They suspect that he is spending all his money on ayyashi (debauchery). When they asked him for his passbook, he told them that the concept was outdated. â€œWait for the quarterly bank statement,â€ he said, but that only deepened their suspicion.
Obviously, not all parents exhibit abnormal behaviour. An overwhelming majority are regular people, going through their twilight years watching their diet, recounting memories and basking in the gratitude of their wards whom they had given that invaluable gift called a normal childhood. But even here, there is an inevitable clash of cultures. They do not tolerate the late nights of their adult children. They do not understand why their children need something called freedom. Single girls suffer the most. A talented actress who lives with her mother often has to listen to uncomplimentary remarks about her late nights, even though she is just returning from a night shift. Thirty-one-year-old Sakshi, who is a director of a media-house, has an understanding mother, but there are rules at home. â€œI cannot stay out late without informing her, or bring home men in the middle of the night. Even those men who do come home to fetch me for an evening out arenâ€™t allowed beyond the drawing room,â€ she says.
Sakshi feels an acute lack of privacy in her own home. She cannot even walk around her home, mulling over her thoughts. â€œThatâ€™s not possible because my mom craves my indulgence. If I snap back, she reminds me that she is not a paying guest in the house. Thatâ€™s how bad it gets.â€
Single men who live with their parents have unique problems. A journalist who comes from an affluent business household says that unpleasant situations develop over finances. He is a salaried person in a creative field and his earnings do not measure up to the wealth of his siblings. â€œThere are times when one is made to feel bad about how your salary is less than the phone bill of the family.â€ But usually, single men face problems that are similar to what single women face.
Thirty-year-old Mahesh (surname withheld on request) who is a media professional, says, â€œEarlier, when I had invited some girlfriends over and brought them to my room, I was told to leave the door open. It was so awkward. Also, my mom would come in on some pretext or another and try to make small talk. I have stopped calling friends over.â€ Ashok Shah, in his late 30s, says that boyâ€™s nights out are out of the question. And a conservative dress code has to be followed.
Singles who live with their parents have to sacrifice the little joys of life for the grander purpose of being there for their elders. Not all singles complain though. Film publicist Parull Gossain wouldnâ€™t trade living with her mother for anything. â€œMy friends tease me about it,â€ she says happily. TNN
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