Why Moving Out of Your Parent’s House is Overrated


Why Moving Out of Your Parent’s House is Overrated

Illustration: Akshita Monga

The unit a Mumbaikar measures their freedom in is BHK. B is for the parents, K is for the mother, and H is for everyone else. If you are insanely lucky (or loaded), it may be a 2BHK, and the second B is for you and your sibling, or granny, or any random aunt who is living with you. In a land where the Supreme Court recently declared that privacy was a fundamental right, growing up, we had shockingly little of it. Our homes were simply too small for such a big idea.

Which is why it’s surprising that Indian kids aren’t ready to bolt out of the door the second we turn 18. In fact, Indian kids don’t move out of their parents’ homes when it is painfully apparent that they are not kids anymore, but are rapidly approaching uncle/aunty status. You aren’t supposed to leave home until you get married if you are a girl, and never if you are a guy. Moving out and getting your own space is just not a thing. If you even happen to suggest it, your parents will take it very personally. “Where are we going wrong?”, “Kya tujhe freedom nahi hai?”, “Kuch kami hai?”

Thankfully, my mother was only too glad to see the back of me. At 27, I didn’t blame her. I was also thrilled to get out, tired as I was of answering the question “Ghar kab aaoge?” I got myself an apartment – okay, a hole – in Bandra West. Bandra West is where every young freedom-seeker goes to drain his or her bank account. I was paying ₹20,000 for a studio that had 18 tiles on the floor, but hey, it was Bandra, so I was thrilled.

Independence, here I come. No deadlines, curfews, or rules. This was a life in which I would be drinking rum in the day and ordering greasy rolls at night, walking around naked, and masturbating in the living room (okay, there was only one room). Little did I know, moving out would be the most overrated thing in the world, second only to watching cricket in a stadium.

The gap between my expectations and reality was so wide, Sallu could drive through at full speed without harming a fly. Life became about waiting for a plumber or electrician, paying rent, electricity bills, and Wi-Fi bills, waking up early to fill the water tank, showers without any pressure, keeping an eye on grocery, badly self-cooked food… the list goes on and on. Nothing about my life was what I’d imagined it to be. The only chick I was happy to see come home was my maid. I didn’t do drugs, I did dishes, because she didn’t come a lot of times.

Everything that annoyed me about living with my parents felt so precious. I missed the calls to inquire where I was; nobody cared anymore. I missed being asked if I’d have dinner; you stop being really hungry when you cook for yourself. I missed being asked what I’d like for breakfast; I was being served BMC water for 30 minutes for breakfast. I missed a cup of tea being ready when I woke up. I missed laundry being taken care of. I missed not knowing when the dusting lady came home. The occasional party at home felt like a pain. Cleaning ashtrays which you have not contributed to sucked. Sleeping in a smoke-filled room felt disgusting. Cooking for ungrateful friends who’d order because it lacked “texture and flavour” was annoying. Sure, it was easy for them to say, they’d just watched an episode of Masterchef Australia on a flat screen TV, the price of which they had no idea.

“Aish toh baap ke paise pe ki jaati hai; khud ke paise se toh kharcha bhi nahi nikalta.” How right he was, how wise. I missed my dad’s money. I missed a house that was always in order.

I realised once you live alone, your behaviour changes completely. Discounts on detergents excite you more than happy hours. You start keeping an eye out for combo offers on dal. You can’t walk through a street without noticing if the shimla mirch is fresh. You dream of a dust-free bookshelf. You finally know why your mom and her friends always discussed maids and house helps when they met. And you empathise. You plan for where you’ll dry clothes in the monsoon in the month of May itself. You don’t want to stay out too long; what’s the point if nobody asked where you were?

And that’s when I thought to myself, why do we want to do this to ourselves? Why is there such a high premium on moving out? What was so great about it? Nothing was. Independence is overrated. The only thing that beats it is “doing things with my own money”. This misplaced sense of confidence and adulthood is not needed. Your own money is always too less. One of those nights, as luck would have it, I met a rickshawallah taking me home who said

“Aish toh baap ke paise pe ki jaati hai; khud ke paise se toh kharcha bhi nahi nikalta.” How right he was, how wise. I missed my dad’s money. I missed a house that was always in order.

I had heard once you move out, it’s difficult to move back in with your parents. You drift apart. You become too independent, you get used to that life of making your own decisions and being the lord of the living room. They irritate you. Their concern gets on your nerves. But it did the exact opposite for me. If anything, it made me respect them way more. I valued what they did immeasurably. I have no idea how mom put three types of food with varying levels of chilly in three tiffins before 7 am. It sounded difficult as a kid, it felt impossible as an adult. How did they know how much money to withdraw at the beginning of the month? How did they never miss a payment? How did they run a house so easily?

I finally realised it wasn’t easy for them either, they just didn’t crib about it. Cribbing is a new concept. They just did things. And that’s what makes parents, parents. They do things. Without asking or cribbing. All they ask in return is that I tell them when I’d be coming home and I tell them most happily. In fact I will give it to them in writing on an affidavit.  I will do anything… just no more lusting after shimla mirchi please.