2 little Dicky birds sitting on a wall, One named Peter the other named Paul
Fly away Peter! Fly away Paul! Come back Peter! Come back Paul!
Friends, relatives and well-wishers, don’t worry, I am not blabbering in a feverish delirium. It’s just that these lines neatly summed up my situation, when my twin birds flew the nest after their 12th grade, leaving behind one mother with a serious case of the Empty Nest Syndrome! When my sons left home 4 years ago, it was a double dose for me. As twins, they left at the same time, and as I settled them in hostels far from me and from each other as well, I thought my heart would break into a thousand pieces! (It could be more, I was too distressed to count then) While the one who went to Bangalore seemed relatively closer to home, when I settled the other in the far off desert of Pilani in Rajasthan, it felt like I was leaving him in Siberia, or Antarctica or it could have been Mars, for that matter.
My 2 little birds – “How would they survive without me?” I thought despairingly. Who would wake them up in time for their class every morning? Who would coax them to eat healthily and to sleep on time? Who would ensure that their blankets and towels and stuff were washed regularly? And what if they fell sick? Who would take care of them? Oh My God! Who would this – and who would that…? With such thoughts to keep me company, it’s not surprising that I almost had a nervous breakdown!
Then as the first couple of months went slowly by and they started adjusting to their new environment, it was now not a case of how they would survive but more a question of how I would. The house seemed too empty and the days seemed too long. And when I spoke to them on weekends, all tearful and mournful, I strongly suspect they were at a loss as to how to respond. Should they reciprocate the mournful tones? Or should they be natural and talk cheerfully about their new life with their peers? On hindsight, I think I was probably burdening them with feelings of guilt for not missing me as much as I missed them.
And oh boy! Did I miss them! Let’s not even touch on that now. Suffice it to say that I was just one step from becoming a basket case, and you can imagine the rest!
And now, it’s that time of the year again, as some of my friends here in the Gulf as well as my brother, prepare to send their child away from home for their professional studies.
In preparation for hostel life, the list of must-buys is made, remade, revised and updated. While a new set of clothes, mattress, blankets et al are mandatory; they will also need buckets and other accessories for that all-new experience – having to share a common bathroom!
Learning to adjust to the College Canteen food is another worry – because everyone knows that the only time the food served up in any hostel canteen meets the ‘safe-to-eat’ standards, is at student registration time, when parents will be around! Later it gets back to being an inedible mess. I’m guessing that’s why a canteen is called a ‘Mess.’ 🙂
They will also have to learn to play the card-game – to juggle between the pan card, adhaar card, debit card, student I card….! Almost every phone conversation I had with my boys would invariably end with reminders and injunctions to keep all of this safe and in good condition! I knew my boys after all, didn’t I?
The actual College registration process is a nerve-racking one. For the parents this process turns out to be as tough as the competitive exams the children took to get there, in the first place. When we finally manage to put together all the required documents – Transfer Certificate, Migration Certificate, No Objection Certificate, Conduct certificate, among a whole lot more – and stand in line for the verification process, one parent will wonder aloud if everyone has got all these documents attested by a Gazetted officer!! And those who’ve missed that one break out in a sweat and start getting hysterical! And so it goes on…
Dear parents – don’t worry – you are not alone in this. There are those who have done it before you and those who will be doing it after you. So go ahead – when the time comes, say your most tearful farewells to your child (If it reassures you – I sobbed like there was no tomorrow!) Hug him or her extra closely. Don’t be embarrassed to show them your love. For they need it to carry them through the 1st few difficult months away from the safe protected environment called ‘home’.
And when you as parents return back to an empty lonely house and the men slink away to their office or hide behind the newspaper (I guarantee you they will) my dear ladies – give yourselves a few weeks to mope; then shake yourselves out of your lethargy and start living your life! Do what you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have time for – read that book – bring out the long-forgotten cushion-cover and complete it – try out new recipes – brush up old hobbies or build new ones. surround yourselves with cheerful friends or simply start a blog like me! 🙂
And before you know it, the kids will be back home for their 1st semester vacations, and you”ll be picking up their clothes and putting away their books and other stuff, just like the good ol’ times!!!
Cheers ! And Good Luck to the birds 🙂