It was the year 2013. The month was May. I had been in my job for a little less than two years, had been living alone for just over a week. It was the same house, that of my parents’. It was they who had moved out, my Dad had got transferred at the age of 59, a year before retirement. They had decided to shuttle between Bengaluru and Tumakuru during weekends in their Tata Nano and had taken up a place for rent in Tumakuru.
It had just been 4 days since they had moved there that they returned. Mom was suffering from Vertigo and needed immediate attention. Dad had also suffered from gastric issues in those four days and so they drove down. When they got checked up, mom was treated with regular medicine. Dad, however, was in for the long haul. He was diagnosed with major blockage in his heart.
That was the moment that turned my life upside down. It changed how I look at life drastically. A sense of responsibility engulfed me overnight. I could no longer move out and be on my own as I had envisioned. I could no longer enjoy my nights partying, living the uber cool life that my generation had dreamed about. Partying, living on your own, downing shots – these were the happening things of the 2010s for the fresh graduates. The startup culture was just around the corner, everybody wanted to be someone. Work hard, party harder was what everyone professed. Much of these may sound amusing to non-Indians and urban Indians, but hailing from a traditional family that was into Hindu priesthood and being the first generation to have grown up in an urban setup with a family that has strong Brahminical mindset, these things were, and are treated as ‘bad’ in the community that I live in.
Dad went through a bypass surgery within days. I had to now being mindful of his health. Be a little less reckless in life.
That was also the time when I was in a now-on-now-off relationship. Shahrukh was going through a rough patch in her married life and I was her escape route to a dreamworld. I was three years younger, just getting to know financial freedom (read Credit Cards). We had met on Facebook, chatted and Skyped on tethered cellular connections for hours together. We would share music, listen to them together, dream. We dreamt of the hills, a family, love. We blogged our hearts out. We were filmy. She was Shahrukh, I was Sunita. We blogged about our dreams, about the sex, about our guilts and heartbreaks. Her separation dragged on and on, mine was far easier.
I had let go of Mysorewali because that relationship was stifled by Mysorewali’s incessant complaints about my smoking, weed abuse and her constant cribbing that I don’t open up. We had met in college, but really got into a relationship after I left that college for another in a different city. The relationship really started off as a long distance one. I was headstrong, she was naive and soft-hearted. We didn’t have much in common except for my attraction to damsels in distress and that she was one. I was her support system, and then I had realized I had said ‘yes’ without giving much time or thought. It had to end one day when I revealed I was falling in love with someone else. It happened over mail, I left it as an open choice. It was left to her if she wanted to continue in the relationship or walk out, she walked out.
Things weren’t always smooth with Shahrukh though. We were romantic, passionate lovers, but at the same time she’d not mince words when I used to question my future with her. I had put in a lot of time and energy in her, was ready to leave family behind, but she didn’t see it that way. She thought our families will never understand our relationship because there was age, language, caste and cultural differences. And she would be a divorcee soon. She saw herself as the other woman who broke a healthy relationship that Mysorewali and I had. The guilt had taken over senses alongside the myriad backstabs she had suffered from her partner. That was a messy break-up, I tried clinging-on, but she moved on much faster than I’d imagine.
My rebellious nature, newfound freedom and my ego had overpowered my conscience for a long time. With Shahrukh, I intended to correct those. I intended to go against established values and establish new ones. To prove it’s okay to do whatever it takes to keep a person, a good soul, happy. To prove it’s okay to leave your existing life behind to build a new one as long as there’s a human touch to it. That it was okay to break hearts if it meant you could mend one. It never happened, though. I saw all those beliefs collapsing. I saw how the other world that I had left behind suffered because of my actions.
I learnt from common friends how Mysorewali had waited for a couple of months hoping I’d apologize and go back to her. I heard about her wedding, and over time I have heard how she despises me, is angered by my name and admits that she wasted her time on me. I learnt from family how my parents saw me, the kind of image I had created in their minds and the resulting image they had projected to the rest of the family. Everyone saw me as a sedated animal, a good for nothing, reckless and irresponsible.
I had been an indecent son to decent parents. While decency is quite subjective and people have different levels of acceptance towards different levels of decency, I attribute it to the amount of goodness in the value system you inherited from your parents, friends and education and how much you stick to them.
My energy went into stabling things at home for the next three years. I started building a solo life, on my own version of morals and ethics. I had accepted that what happened in the relationship with Mysorewali wasn’t right. And that I had run astray when it comes to how things were at home.
Over the next three years, I moved to a different job, bought a car, built a new kind of me, acted more patient, took care of some financial responsibilities at home, drove them places, went on family trips. I did what I could to keep my parents happy. They were at peace with everything except for the fact that I wasn’t getting married. That subject was off the table and a major concern that everyone now had.
So in January 2018, when Kiddo proposed to me, expressed her feelings to me and said she wanted to get married, I saw it as an opportunity to correct everything that was wrong with me. I wanted to leave behind the ‘indecent’ part of me and build a new life that’d have the morals and ethics I had come to accept as decent over a period of time. Morals and ethics that I had abandoned when I broke free from family back in 2007.
To be continued..