Neither age nor time can get you ‘used to of it’.
I remember as a child once my father had to do a day trip to another city for official work. My uncle used to live with us back then. Abbu was going to be home late that night and till then, for the entire day, my uncle kept coming up with ideas to cheer me up. A long drive… some ice cream… whatever the poor soul could think of. But nothing seemed to matter. I just wanted Abbu to come back home.
The first time I felt the same kind of knot in my stomach for my mom was when I was much older. It was when I went to the UK for my masters. It didn’t hurt that bad when I was leaving – perhaps because I had so much to look forward to. But 4 months later when I planned to give my family a surprise visit – that’s when it hit me. My mom was at the airport because my dad told her that one of his friends was coming. Ammi had no idea I was going to be there. She waited patiently in the airport lobby and with every step I took towards her I realized how much I’ve wanted to be with her. She hugged me and cried and kept saying ‘mera bacha’ (‘my child’). That moment – that was when I felt that I just needed to come back home.
There is no age. There are no circumstances. There will never be a ‘time’ when it will not hurt so deep that you feel like someone just took your heart and crushed it between their fist. To settle away from your parents, especially once you get married, creates a permanent void. You visit them and they visit you but only being with each other fills this void in your heart.
People move on in life. Things change, responsibilities grow. But certain relationships are your roots – constantly keeping a check that you remain intact even though you are growing. From a daughter to a wife to a mother – the journey is one that is beautiful but somewhere deep within you realize that there was someone who you once took for granted and now you yearn to be with them.
Despite of being a mother myself now, I get stern reminders from my Abbu to let him know that I have reached work safely. I get constant loving reminders from Ammi to offer my prayers on time and eat well. Sometimes I just miss being their little girl.
I remember, before getting married, every time I came back from work I would walk into Ammi’s room and most of the times she would be praying. Regardless of what part of her prayer she was in, I would quickly place my head on her lap as soon as she sat down. There were times when she had to finish her prayer sitting with my head on her lap because I wouldn’t get up. And the most beautiful part of this memory is that she let me lay there for as long as I wanted.
My relationship with Abbu is very unique. I have feared his temper all my life yet he is my biggest confidant. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that my father doesn’t know about me. And this one feeling puts my heart and mind at ease. I know that somebody has my back – somebody is always on the watch. He has been my teacher – from math to economics to law to life in general. He has been my mentor and life support till date. He has taught me through love and anger but mostly through example. And regardless of whether he is around, he makes sure that I know that I am being taken care of.
Over time, I’ve learnt to be strong, I’ve learnt to laugh even when I have no reason to, I’ve learnt to run my errands and fulfill my responsibilities even when I can barely feel the strength to stand and I’ve learnt to reprioritize my relationships time and again. Despite the fact that I miss these two people every second of every day – I have learnt to keep on going. In the many ways that I have changed with changing times, this is one too – I will never be the same person that I was before I settled away from my parents. It’s like I left a part of me there and only when I am with them do I feel complete.
It’s a constant and painful struggle to have to let go of people who mean everything to you especially when you know they need you. Other responsibilities and roles take over something which has always been on the top of your priority list. There are times when I wish I could go to my Ammi and help her with the house chores. Just a few days ago she had to go out for getting some taxation related paperwork done. She ran around to meet a number of people and visited a number of offices in scorching daylight. Drove back home and was exhausted. How I wish I could tell her to sit at home while I got the work done. But I can’t because of my present commitments. Because I am now a wife and a mother and a professional.
It’s true that life operates through paradoxes and it throws them at you just when they hurt too much. You make your parents second and begin to build your own life and even then… even then they support you. They pray for you to succeed. They guide you.
Today I feel the same ache in the void of my heart. I once again had to bid my Abbu farewell so that I could carry on with being a wife, a mother and a professional – despite of how much I wished for him to be with me and more so over, how much I needed to be with him, we said our goodbyes. And every time I whine in front of him complaining about how unfair this is … he gracefully tilts his head a bit, closes his eyes, gently nods and says ‘this is life beta, this is life.’
So this one is to all those people who part from their parents to build a life of their own. Not just women but also men who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones, put their act together and grow with growing relationships and responsibilities. To all the parents like my ammi abbu who let their children fly off to explore the new wonders of life and continue to offer their continuous support. I wish I get the opportunity to spend the kind of time that I want to with you both and I pray to have a heart as strong as yours to be so supportive for my child. And finally, this one is for my child and for all those who are still living with their parents – talk to them a little more, listen to them with patience, sit with them and ask them about their day, make more memories, resolve your mistakes together and lie down on your mother’s lap a little longer – because one day, for whatever reason, you may have to wait for a really long time to be able to do all that.