I think I have found the answer to this existential question.
But a little background before we go ahead.
I miss Bhopal. I miss the people there, I miss the weather, I miss the space and most importantly, I miss the familiarity. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mumbai, it’s a melting pot of culture and all the other hoopla. But it doesn’t have and will never have the ‘ghar ki feel’ which I crave.
Having my Swades moment, I want to just take a train and go home. Home, where my mom will come after a tiring day at office and we’ll make jokes about how she should just disappear for a day from her job and tell them that she didn’t know where she was. After a combined effort for dinner, we’ll watch cheesy Marathi serials and go to sleep.
Dad will be somewhere in the background, looking at our antics and smiling. He stayed away from home for five years before he retired and would visit us every fortnight. I believe he must have felt the same things I am feeling right now many times. He missed out on all the times I cribbed about eating tinde ki sabzi or when the bhaji was too spicy and mom said her patented dialogue “Tandoori chicken toh fatak se kha jati ho, vo teekha nai hota na?” (You eat tandoori chicken quickly, that’s not spicy at all, right?) I miss that. Instead of this, now my mom constantly tells me to eat well, even if it is tandoori chicken.
A thing I realised when I moved out was that my parents talked to me more often than they did before. Maybe my being away from their eyesight put things in perspective. Their commanding role in regard with our relationship altered into a supervisory one. Change was a part of growing up, for them and me.
With shedding the old and adapting to the new, I was expected to suddenly transform into an independent young woman who was ready to take on the whole world. The reality is, I wasn’t ready, then I was, and then I wasn’t again. It is a state of mind which has been fluctuating for quite some time, and I feel that’s okay.
I am a grown up (yeah), and I act like it (when needed). When I am around children, I’ll turn into a child myself, and around people my age I’ll be in the spirit of youth. Some people find this unsettling and what I want to ask them is why must we be so rigid? Does growing up mean choosing one behaviour and sticking to it? I am a floater (not the chappal); I can’t be pegged into one ‘type’. I am one, then I am someone else. And that’s my thing. I’m not like everybody, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be okay around everybody. I hate when people pigeonhole themselves into being social and anti-social, introvert, extrovert, ambivert, bluebird whatever. You shouldn’t have to do that. There are days when I want to smile at every person who crosses my path and then some days I feel like punching everyone I meet (I don’t do it, pukka promise). I feel that is okay, why should I restrict myself to one form of emotions and expressions when I can have the whole spectrum! This might seem like a childish concept, but it is in fact the most grown up thing! Don’t you think a grown up should be able to make his/her own choices in life? How he/she wants to be or not?
So through careful contemplation I have found that being a grown up is being yourself and owning up to what you are. You are an architect who watches Anime, great! A public servant who watches Korean Dramas, awesome! A tall woman who wears heels, more power to you! Don’t be ashamed if you are into stuff which other people think is weird (unless it’s illegal), or be a victim of judgement that other people pass as a result of their ignorance.
You will meet many of them in the course of your life, and all I can say is that learn the lesson and move on.