I just had a profound realization today, I am scared that I am going to wake up one morning at forty or fifty with no one really to call my own. This is not an existential crisis or maybe it is I am not sure but let me explain what has led to this moment of haplessness.
I had a slightly older friend who is almost from another generation and as you can imagine we often do not see eye to eye on many issues, he casually mentioned the other day, you don’t belong here you know, you should go to some place abroad and settle there. Your bohemian state of mind will not work here in India. *too baffled to respond*
Let me also say that I do not stay in some remote village or town in proper India, I stay in Mumbai, the biggest metropolitan and I have someone telling me that my thoughts are too “bohemian” for even this tolerant city?
I agree I do not like to listen to each and every thing that my family or my friends tell me, but so what. Aren’t we allowed to be independent just because we are women? I also agree that I chose to live by myself in spite of my family living 30 minutes away in the same city, but again: independence.
Often I wonder if I take this independence thing too far, I like my own space and I like to decide things for myself and often have arguments with family and boyfriend because I am not exactly the most compliant person you will meet. But at certain retrospective moments I feel scared, what if my non-compliance and this need to do things my own way begins to cost me my relationships. It hasn’t really happened yet but who is to say it will not? I look around me and see other women doing so easily what I struggle with: let others make their decisions for them. And then I look at myself and wonder if I am an anomaly.
A few days ago, two of my roommates and me decided that we will rent a flat between the three of us and get out of the 12 women in four rooms’ circus that we are currently living in. We were excited at the thought itself, we set budgets, did our homework and looked for houses. There was one house we looked at that stood out, cute little place that won out hearts just as we set foot into in. A studio apartment divided into two rooms, it seemed like just what we needed. All three of us, me M and A saw the house again, paying attention to the details, cupboard space, working A/C, refrigerator etc. and it all looked good. We gave our word, come Monday we would put down the advance payment and move in May. I was so excited until, I got some disturbing messages from M. She wanted to keep looking for places because her “boyfriend” felt the rent at this place was too much. He had recently bought a motorbike from their joint savings (!) and felt that they could not afford for her to move out of this cockroach ridden, chaotic space unless she finds something that costs the same rent as she is currently paying. So she did what all good girlfriends would do *rolls eyes* she listened to her boyfriend’s sound financial advice and ditched us leaving us and our plan of moving high and dry because just the two of us could not really afford the rent by ourselves.
This incident bothered me on many levels. one of them obviously being that it made all our plans fall through but the other one being that in spite of being an adult woman in her twenties living and working alone in Mumbai, she did not really have a say in her own personal decisions. And this was not even her family which was influencing her, this was more by her own choice because it was her boyfriend who stays in another city, has no idea about the cost of living in Mumbai, who showed absolute disregard for concerns like whether the place we find in his designated “budget” will actually be safe for a women to live in etc. It got me thinking, about M and about how we are so used to having to listen to our families all through our lives that when they are done telling us how to live our lives, we look for “substitutions” in the form of boyfriends who eventually become husbands who run our lives for us, all in the name of fucking love.
But what about independence?