Do women need solo vacations away from husband and children to assert freedom?

Sinjini Sengupta

I was finally planning a solo vacation. Yes, you heard it right. Solo vacation!

Of late, these two buzzwords have been doing the rounds in women’s groups. The women that went, go or plan for one such call it a matter of self-love, as opposed to, they say, the shackles of duty towards family and children. It stands for independence, they say. They pity the one who cannot think of a flight alone.

They look down upon the ones who do not think the same way.

They got me!

I packed my suitcase and briefed the household help, the nanny, the security guards. I ordered my sets of new cosmetics, and beach towels. I was going to the sea. I also ordered new children’s books, toys, night-lights, so that my daughter wouldn’t miss me much. Even though I knew that those things wouldn’t help a bit.

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For my husband, I stocked books I thought he’d love to read while I was away. Movies he can watch, and movies that they can watch together.

And then, the day arrived.

The cab was ordered, and stood at my door. I was already humming – up, up and away! My daughter was sleeping. My husband was at the door, seeing me off. And a goodbye hug, as usual. “Hold me like you’d never let me go!”

“Er, say?” I ask.

“Yes?” He asks.

“What, erm, what would be the cancellation, if…” I fumbled. I did not know what I was saying.

“Ah.” He smiled.

“Just wondering, you know!”

“It doesn’t matter!” He was laughing now. Pulling my suitcase back into the foyer from the lift lobby.



“I still can’t make up my mind, you know!”

“I know!”

The cab driver calls again. I pick it up, almost as if he were chasing me. “Bhaiya, aap cancel kar do,” I tell him.

The person that walks back into the flat from the lift lobby, I realise, is not the same person who was leaving a few minutes ago. No, really, she is not. This person who walks in now is older and wiser. Calmer. More acquainted with herself. More knowing!

And this is what she wonders… Do we really think a flight away from our everyday regular world makes for an escape? Mountain trekking is wonderful, and it needs no debate or defence for us to justify it. But now after this little self-reflective experience, I know it slightly better than before. So now, when I see it as a showcase of our worthiness and a flag hoisting for female individuality, I see in it a denial.

If I didn’t like being a mother, would 7 days away with girlfriends up on the mountain trekking really be an answer to any question I might be trying to address?

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If I wanted to be a mother, will the sheer pain of missing my child, imagining her stretched hands looking for me on the barren part of the bed in her sleep, and putting that ahead of the sunrise of the solo trip make me less reformed, less individual, less equal? Will my wanting to share the pleasure of the setting sun by the sea waves with my family make me less? Are shackles, confinements and duties so easy to define? Is love so easy to disown, irrespective of how you love and how you believe or disbelieve your life?

I’m not judging you. Please don’t get me wrong. Judgment is the worst disservice I can do to you, anyway. But I ask you to stop to reflect, too.

Do you seriously think your freedom lies in an escape away from routine, without certain people? Perhaps it is time to look deeper and harder. A seaside or a spa date, a tattoo or a coffee chat, a shopping expedition… they each have their own places in life quite different from flagship projects of individual reincarnation, and if you do not find that out, they will find you.

Until then, happy vacations!

As for me, I’d rather stay home!

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