The summer of 2012 came without much intent. Or so I had thought. Having spent more than a half a century of her life sacrificing her ambition for the greater good of the family, my comely mother decided to take the implications of a mid-life crisis to a whole new level. She got herself a double promotion at the fag end of her career in a dead-end bank job. With the promotion came the transfer papers to a godforsaken branch in Karala (a place somewhere in the abysmal trenches of North Delhi). It was what she called a "rite of passage. Everyone has to go through it, for at least two years," she said.
The closet badass that I am, I refused to accompany my folks to the boondocks. I refused to forgo my place in civilisation. I decided to branch out, to live on my own. "I want to spend some time alone. Want to discover myself," I reasoned. So I found myself a one room apartment close to the area where we were living before mother dropped the P-bomb and with much gusto began my single-independent-girl-in-the-city life. But sadly, the euphoria of being responsible of every single rupiya, paisa, jharoo-pocha, and morsel of daal-chawal lasted only a week.
Having dwelled on high doses of American sitcoms, glorifying working people living alone in big cities with friends for company, I had clearly underestimated the rigour of being the sole karta-dharta of things which bums like me mostly take for granted. Right from haggling with the guards, sweepers, cleaners, dhobi, sabzi-wallah, and paniwallah, to dodging the threat that single girls living alone pose to the izzat of their neighbours and the landlords, self-discovery has proven to be quite a handful. Add to that a low-paying job, no talent for cooking, an overthinking brain, messy tendencies, a rat problem and a zest for taking on projects beyond work. Of course, there are good days, but not as pronounced as the bad days. Having a lair of your own ensures that you don't have to be accountable to anyone, especially not your parents. Those who know the vagaries of living with folks, who think that an unwed girl above 25 is paraya dhan waiting to be claimed by a suitable man, will get what I mean.
Moreover, living alone definitely makes one more accountable, organised and deft at micromanagement. But sadly, it gets tiresome. Having friends helps, but not when they come over to your house and you have to feed them and clean up after them while they relive the old days when they'd visit you in college and your mother would make them feel like they were cherubs who fell straight out of heaven. What I am trying to relay is that no matter how charming the idea of moving out is, it comes with a truck load of responsibility and stress. Do it at your own risk, not unless you absolutely have to. And don't do it if you want to clear your life's clutter. Trust me, I haven't been as foggy as I am now, in my entire life. And it has nothing to do with age.
As my mother says, aatey-daal ka bhaav can make a man out of anyone.
Dummy's guide to living alone
1. Learn how to cook, or hire a maid who can.
2. Keep rat poison handy. Along with a standing pocha. You never know when you may find yourself playing hide and seek with a bandicoot.
3. Your mom is right. Nevermind if she is your worst critic.
4. Loneliness is your friend. The two of you will be spending many a nights together.
5. Get into the habit of stacking your books and making your bed.
6. Keep cash in handy starting the first day of every month. Those who you owe money always knock twice. Sometimes thrice.
7. Invest in a room freshener. Especially if you are a smoker.
8. Keep boredom away if you have on overactive mind. No, this does not include stalking the ones you are crushing on, on Facebook.
9. There is ecstasy in penury and pain. Remind yourself that when your bank balance is down to the dregs, which it will be.
10. By all means, party every night. Just don't host any.