I’ve noticed in the recent few weeks that every time I make an attempt to get into some sort of rhythm, routine and flow around my home, I don’t get beyond 3-4 days of doing it. I’m talking about a routine around my home. Cooking my meals, knowing what’s in my fridge, stocking up, having a sense of what I want to eat a little beforehand so I am well-prepared to make it happen, sleeping and waking up on time, getting work done alongside, not forgetting to stock up on things like detergent and soap, having laundry cycles happen on time — routine housekeeping basically. When I moved to Bangalore, I was in the kind of headspace where I wanted out of this domesticity. Temporarily at least. I felt like I had given away so much of myself to it, it was beginning to feel like a burden more than anything else. The hows and whys of it are a story in itself, but suffice to say I needed a break, in order to regain some balance. And I got one because we moved to Bangalore and found a home so close to my parents. I realised today, which was again spent in bed thanks to nagging cramps, that I’ve been incredibly lucky.
So every time that I feel the urge or a need for this domestic rhythm of my own again, when I make attempts at rebuilding this routine, only to have it break in mere days, I have been questioning where the need comes from.
Today was day three spent mostly in bed. To go from an intensely emotional high, to more than a couple of days of unexpectedly deep sleep, to getting my period with the regular order of cramps has not been fun. It’s my fourth month of going without painkillers, which is a sign of two things: the pain is less debilitating, and I’m not hating on it or my ladyparts anymore. However, it does mean I have to bear the pain, which I mostly do lying horizontal with a heat pad underneath me.
I’m learning to (and getting better at) listen to my body and work with it rather than against it. So I give in. Thankfully, I finished my only deadline for the week on Monday, amma is back and I’m going over to hers for lunch, so I had the luxury of kicking back and doing the version of Netflix and chill that one does when one is unwilling to get out of bed.
It’s been an incredible privilege and a wonderful opportunity to receive the endless generosity that only parents can extend, and I have taken of it, fully. To the extent that my own home has run half-full at all times. Mostly because I haven’t needed to pay attention to it. I realise now how the kitchen lies at the heart of making a house a home. Because that is the essential function I have not given my full attention since this relocation. This is probably the part-emptiness I try and fill by compelling myself to some routine? I’m not sure as yet.
The luxury of not having to think about meals and sundry domestic needs has also meant I have thoroughly enjoyed the liberty of getting out and about. Whether wandering the city, or travelling out, or committing to a year-long course, and joining VC’s work and being available to up and go wherever and whenever work calls.
It has been such a far cry form my years in Goa, which were mostly about the home. Even with the numerous things I did achieve and do, keeping a home and keeping it going was a large accomplishment. I took pride in cooking all our meals, in playing wife, in creating and nurturing a home that was welcoming for us and anyone else to come into. When our friends circle was larger, ours was the home everyone thronged to when we needed a place for an adda. My life as a freelancer, which also kept me home-bound for the most part, made it necessary for my home to run a certain way for me to be able to function and be productive in there, day after day.
And suddenly something had changed. I wanted out. One of the big reasons I wanted a change fo scene from life in Goa was to get out of home some more, to seek richer, deeper experiences, and to have the opportunity to jump into more things than I was allowing myself to back in 2016.
I’ve really enjoyed this at a time when I really wanted nothing more than to experience life outside my home. And I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this surrounded by my family that has been every bit instrumental — whether they know it or not — in enabling it for me. I’m so grateful for the support. Amma, for feeding me every single day, and filling in for when I have chosen not to cook either by sending over food or having us over. My in laws have us over every single week and invariably, I come away with packed food that takes care of the next meal. I have literally not had to lift a finger too often around here.
The past 18 months or so have been about coming back to myself. Bringing back parts that I had distanced, some that I’d entirely lost sight of, of discovering new sides of myself and putting it all back together — with balance. If the couple of years before leaving Goa had me feeling torn between constantly being home-maker, freelancer, wife, cook, cleaner et all, these past few months have been about reworking these aspects of myself such that no single part overshadows or swallows the other completely.
It is a work in progress, as I’m sure it is likely to be for the rest of my life. But I realised today that it isn’t a process I can do entirely alone. So everything that I have gotten done these past months (it feels like a lot, and I’m not even talking about my “work”) is really the product of this little village that quietly rallies around me. I don’t have the words, not enough of them, to express just how grateful I am for this.
If I am able to unentangle myself from the role of homemaker, it is because my home is already taken care of by VC, mostly while I am not looking. If I am able to eschew cooking all meals, it is because amma unquestioningly steps in to do it. If I am able to take a step back from full-time freelancing, it is because I am looked after. If I feel more whole and closer to myself today, it is because my family has stayed with me unflinchingly.
Here’s a picture I snapped last week, in one of the moments of domesticity — I cooked a rather yummy chicken stroganoff and enjoyed a glass of wine (consumed Bev-style) all by myself, while I waited for VC to come home form work.
These moments, rare as they are, are special, because they remind me of my privilege. And I never want to forget that I am so very, very privileged to be living this life that I do.