She walked home to two smiling faces of her parents, excited every bit as them to be home after almost a year. Nine months away from home had been no cakewalk for her either. Her grin had spread across her brightened face from the moment her flight landed at the airport, feeling like she was home already. All her fatigue, all exhaustion, all the tiredness that she had started her journey with, subsided as she walked around the house examining every piece of furniture like a spy on an undercover mission. She sat with her mom and discussed changes in herself. She sat with her dad and debated on changes in the house. So they sat and they spoke till her weariness came back and her eyes began to droop.
Waking up the sound of the maid sweeping the room, she realised how much she had missed it all. The sun shone right on to her face through the un-curtained windows and as much as that annoyed her, she could not help but smile at her mother’s changeless habits. Being on your own was hard on its own. As dearly as she cherished her independence, relying on your mother has an altogether different charm. It had taken cheek to take the decision of moving to a different state for her undergraduate studies, but it was made nevertheless with the agreement of all three of them. She hated it when her mom told her that their life had slowed down tremendously since she moved out. But sooner or later, they had to come to terms with it. Like they say, now is as good a time as ever.
After two days however, the cheerfulness begun to be weighed down by the controversial, debatable, ceaseless, inconclusive arguments on the duties and obligations that being a daughter entailed. She would go out every now and then to meet up with old friends, acquaintances and extended families alike. In midst of the exhilaration and the thrill she got out of catching up with her best friends and closest confidants the question of prioritising took form. It was simple in her head. She was living at home, with her parents. So for friends and for a fresh change, she would step out and spend a while and then come back home. But for her parents, she had come home after nine months. She ought to spend almost all her time at home, sparing only two to three days a week to be away. So they came down to a mutual agreement. Four days a week to spend her time outside the house was fair enough. Just as she thought she was walking on the same wavelength as her parents, the parties began. Going was not an issue; time was. Her parents were not very approving of arriving home at odd hours, which was basically any hour after 10 p.m.
“You understand the culture that we come from and the society that we live in, right?” they’d say.
So they decided on that too. Unless it was a close friend’s event, an occasion where her presence was requested and celebrated, she were to reach home latest by 10.
It was a long vacation that she had come for, three months to be precise. As time passed on, she started taking leverage with her curfew at times. On other days, she would obey the settlements more than agreed upon. But as time passed on, the complaints started coming in. The emotional guilt trip started pouring in, as her mother gave her lectures on how her parents were ageing and expecting her to start taking over for them. She got moral lectures on maintaining the dignity and respect of her family by being the ideal daughter. She got sentimental ultimatums to attend parties with her parents and dress up in clothes that she was not fond of, but reflected decent on the family. So she started participating more in the household chores than ever before. She learned cooking to perfection. She started handling her dad’s documents and some of his bank work. She got a sort of obsession she was starting to realise; an obsession to not give her parents a chance to crib. Because if there was one thing that she did not want to remember her vacation for, it was a constant nagging from her parents on unfulfilled plans and aspirations; something her mother was an ace at. So she worked till she reached her saturation point. She worked till she realised that now she wanted to go back to the four-days-a-week agreement. She worked till she realised that there was not going to be an end to this. She worked till she realised that there was not be any appreciation for this. She worked till she realised that this would go on, as the natural order of things. She worked till she realised that no matter how hard she tried to, this was not what she wanted to do. She worked till she realised that she wanted to spend the few days left to her vacation, to rest and relax and make memories and not dutifully perform tasks that she would be executing for the rest of her life any way. She worked till she realised that her heart lay in travelling the world, exploring the unknown and just following what her heart told her she loved. She worked till she realised that she simply wanted to be out there and do everything that she possibly can. She worked till she realised how frustrating it was to be a daughter. It was not her parent’s fault. They tried as much as possible to open their minds to a liberal lifestyle. They tried giving everything they had not got, wrapping their minds around concepts that must have been so alien to them. They stepped into unknown territories for her and even agreed to make pacts of understandings with her. But it was hard for them to detach their fifty year old minds from the requirements and circumscriptions of such a confining faceless society that still sets the bar for you.
But she couldn’t help her mind, stunned at the frustrations of being a daughter. As a girl, you balance. You balance a life of a friend, a daughter, a son and then you remember who you really truly wish to be. Because that, she realised, is something they don’t ask anymore. You find a space for yourself. You carve out a space for yourself. And while fighting the tussles of being the ideal daughter, the good son, the best friend and the respectful socialiser you have to fight for a little longer to keep that little space, away from all constraints, untouched by demands and above all notions. You fight a little longer to maintain the sanctity of that space, for the space is every bit sacred as your soul.
Sooner or later, you learn how to fight for that space and for that sanctity. But like they say, now is as good a time as ever.