Left with nothing to talk about
“When silence between two is comfortable then the relationship is deep.” But the silence that stretched between us was not at all comfortable. At least not for me! Twenty-three years … yes, after 23 years of our marriage, we were ‘alone together’ in our ‘empty nest’. The only sound in the house was of Arnab Goswami disrupting his own show.
“Shall I serve dinner?” Finally I broke the silence.
“Yes,” he switched off the TV.
I went to the kitchen. He followed me. We sat to dine. The sound of silence was replaced by the sound of cutlery.
As we lay beside one another later, the silence was soon broken by the familiar sound of his snores. My mind once again wandered down memory lane. “How will I live?” This question hounded me again and again since the day they came into our life. It was the only life I have ever lived. That I was always a mother or born to be a mother… And now my younger one too left, leaving memories behind. Beautiful memories… of their innocent childhood, the hormonal rush of teenage, the tension of 12th standard… I didn’t find it strange that there were only the sweet memories, good ones all engraved deep in my mind, very close to my heart, still fresh from the day when I first held them in my arms.
My heart wrenched and sleep evaded my eyes. I turned to face my husband, deep in sleep.
Related reading: Here’s how Indian parents can cope when the kids have flown the nest
It was not a romantic marriage
We were strangers when we married, celebrated our first anniversary away from each other, me at my maika getting pampered during my first pregnancy and he alone in the city of his work. We were not at all a ‘planning type’ couple. The first pregnancy just happened. The thought of a life growing within me, a life created by us, made us ecstatic and brought us closer. In a real sense we started our married life as man, woman and child.
Any couple can relate to this. When a child comes into your life, everything else takes a backseat and the couple’s life start revolving around it.
When a child comes into your life, everything else takes a backseat and the couple’s life start revolving around it.
We were not any different. Our days too began with her and ended with her. Our talk mostly revolved around her. Instead of movies and romantic candlelight dinners, we loved going to parks, chasing peacocks and butterflies, dancing in the rains and enjoying ‘happy meals with toys’. Soon the little girl became a big sister of a little sister and our family was complete.
The children were our connection
Apart from home and kids, my husband had a major role to play, the role of providing us a comfortable life. Being a woman comes with its own perks and beautiful package. I decided to enjoy the privilege of being a woman and became a stay-at-home mom. My husband would have traded his life to be in my shoes; but then a stay-at-home dad challenges the manhood of a man, and is laughed upon. “Kya mauga ki tarah bachche paal raha hai.”
If a mother leaves her career to look after her home, she becomes an epitome of sacrifices and takes the ‘Mother India’ crown. But if a father decides to do the same, society will not shy away from making fun and ridiculing not only the father, but the mother, too. What kind of womanly man he is and what a heartless mom she is. Isn’t that so?
My husband was left with no other option than to earn, and me to enjoy the joy of motherhood.
In the evenings, the only thing I talked about was our kids, because that was what I loved to talk about. He too was eager to know about all the missed moments. What they did while he was away. The children were the bond that glued us together. They were the reason for our chats. They were the reason we fought and then they were the reason we reconciled quickly. In fact, they were the reasons we were breathing.
Related reading: Here’s why you shouldn’t let your children be your only identity
And then they left
We were still enjoying their childhood, when suddenly, before we knew it, they were all grown up. When the elder one flew from the nest, the younger one, the ‘chatterbox’ of our family, was there to fill the void. But when the younger one also took the same flight, the silence became deafening. I had nothing to share about my day and he never learned or got an opportunity to share his days with me.
Our talk became short and crisp. “Shall I serve dinner?” “I am leaving for office.” “Will you be going out today? “How is work going?” “Did ‘they’ call today? ” So, basically, it was just an official, formal, to-the-point conversation between us. We talked more than this when we were at cold war after a normal couple fight.
I knew that the silence between us was troubling him, too. Or he wouldn’t have called from office so frequently ‘just like that’. I knew that this day was destined to come, when I would be left in my nest filled with the memories of past life. It was nothing unnatural, happening only to me. Even I flew once, leaving my parents’ home empty. I have to pick up the pieces and start living again.
I remembered my daughters used to tell me, “You have such a long ‘to do list’ waiting to be done when we leave. It seems like you are waiting for us to leave.”
“Aur kya?” I used to teasingly reply.
So I’m like every other mom?
I had never thought that when the day came, my heart will refuse to cooperate with my mind. That like every typical mom, I will start living in the ‘empty nest syndrome’, which I never believed in.
But suddenly I felt, what ‘empty nest’? My two girls are out happily building a life for themselves. That’s what I had always wished for. Holidays will still be there when my house will be filled with life again. Technology has bridged the physical distance now. And above all, the two of us are still here. It’s different that we never got the chance to live a couple’s life alone. So finally it’s time for us to live a life, with us and for us … ‘alone together’.
My eyes smiled. I got up. Let’s begin the courtship. Never in my life have I dated before. I never got a chance to date someone. Let’s do this…
I picked up a saree; it makes me feel sexy. Put on the makeup, wore my favourite perfume, took a cab and reached his office, unannounced. On the way I was praying to not get a reverse shock and that he would still be there when I reach.
I loved the shock on his face. He was in the middle of a meeting.
Without waiting, I popped the question “Dr Sa’ab, will you be my date today?”
He blushed like a teenager.
Our eyes smiled together.