As my friend and I run down to the kiosk to get some coffee in between classes, we notice how unnaturally dark it is due to the heavy clouds that have entirely blocked out the sun. My thoughts immediately go to how I will get home; will I get caught in the rain, did I carry my umbrella today, will I have time to wash my hair if I choose to just get wet and enjoy the rain? In contrast, she groans in annoyance. “I did my laundry this morning and left it out to dry, why must it rain today, why?”
It strikes me as so odd that the two of us, while so similar in our thinking otherwise, have such stark differences when it comes to our living situations. I, living comfortably at home with my parents, face the constant woes of the long distance I must travel to get to college, the transport I take and the traffic I must face, and I constantly envy her for the under 10 minute walk she needs to get home. She, on the other hand, persistently worries about things that I take for granted – what to eat for dinner, does she have clean clothes to wear the next day, and has she paid her rent – while envying me my home-packed lunch and the comfortable size of my room!
Passing out of school and getting sent off to college is something that is a major lifestyle change for most students at this age. There’s the one allegedly fortunate group that finds a suitable college near home and gets to live in comfort, while others get the freedom they’ve always wanted clubbed with all the inconveniences that come with maintaining a house on your own. Belonging to the first group, I naturally envy the second, as who would give up an opportunity to set your own curfew and dictate your own meals? I have often argued with my parents when they deny me permission to go outside somewhere, reminding them that if I lived alone I’d be having all of these experiences and more, except I’m always rendered silent with a reminder that they’d be accompanied by the experiences of cooking and cleaning instead.
Cribbing about problems with the maid, who expects excessive salary or won’t come on time or isn’t doing her job well is something my mother does a lot, and my sister and I regularly pull her leg about it, saying that it’s such a “mother” thing to do and that when we hear other aunts or mothers speak, their woes all sound exactly the same. The funny part is that now, the people who I hear complaining about such things with an intensity to rival my mum, are some of my close friends, living in apartments in different parts of India, and facing those very same “mother” woes. In fact, I have teased them about their housewife tendencies, when in reality, they are managing a lot more than I ever could. Call them housewives if you wish, but appreciate and envy their ability to handle all of these things in addition to their regular student lives with no prior experience at it, as they have been thrust out into this world. For that matter, appreciate and envy the abilities of all those mothers who handle these things seemingly effortlessly while simultaneously doing all the other things that mothers do. I certainly am not waiting with bated breath to have to take on these tasks myself.