My father moved away for work many years back. Mere 21 years old, with no experience of the world, nobody in the family to guide him, he worked hard to get a job to sustain his family. Traveling all the way to Srinagar from Gwalior, going the farthest from home he had ever been, to the only place in the country under trouble, he did what he had to do. With just an address on a piece of paper, he travelled to the new part of the country, all alone, carrying all his luggage alone, and looking for the office to start his job. There were hardly any phones at that time, let alone mobile phones, so it was all the more difficult for him to contact his family, ask them about their whereabouts, tell him about his woes. But he did all of that happily, with all the courage and determination he could muster.
My mom had to leave her family behind after her marriage, all the siblings she so selflessly took care of, a loving father who was most attached to her, a mother she dutifully helped out everyday. She moved away, to a new city, with a man she barely knew, to start a new life. It was not easy, but she would do it all with a smile on her face. She would swallow all the pain she would get, but never fail on her duties to her home.
At the age of 55, after living peacefully with his family for so many years, my father had to shift to a different city for work for few years. He tried shifting his entire family with him but it didn’t go as per plan. So he had to spend almost 2 years in a different city, all alone. He would cook, do all his chores, commute to office, work and all this while, never let his family feel that he was lonely or tired, but he definitely was. And how he would achieve all of this, given he never used to do anything at home, still beats me.
My mother had to shelter all her kids, at the age of 55, when kids usually move out, but she very cheerfully did that, because such are mothers. She would cook everyone’s favorite meal, at the age when her children should be asking her to rest and cooking her favorite dishes. She would hear them complain about how things were not good enough, how there was such less space, and with pleasure clear her cupboards to make space for them. She would toll day and night, working around everyone’s schedules, schools, colleges and offices.
I have lived away from my family for many years, first for college, then for job. I used to hardly miss them. I was strong, I was young and just wanted to explore. I used to have fun with my friends, barely having time to talk to my parents everyday. I was just a 2 hour flight away from them, which made me content, but I used to visit hardly 2-3 times a year.
I lived with them for 2 years because of Covid, and wasn’t happy either. I needed space, I needed my independence.
Here I am, moved continents away, seeking my independence and growth. But I am not as courageous and strong as the people who birthed me. I miss them every day, knowing I cannot be near them. Video calls do not fill the ache, they just hurt me more. I burst out crying just looking at their pictures. And thinking about the kind of things they were achieving in my age, and are still achieving, I feel even more stabs of pain in my chest, realizing how awesome they are, and wonder what force of earth made me decide to move away from them.
I try to convince myself that these are the things that will help me grow, make me stronger, prepare me for the life that I have to live, but I just don’t know how to do it, not yet. But maybe some day. Maybe some day I will be strong, as strong as my father and mother.