Susan Sontag said, “I want to be able to be alone, to find it nourishing.” I have always believed that at some level, at some phase in life, we all tend to be alone. How we are able to deal with it, is all that matters really. Because you won’t always be around someone, but you will always be around you. Being alone with oneself; as I’ve come to learn, is not everyone’s cup of tea though.
Mum calls for the fifth time. “Did you leave yet?”, she enquires. “I have some urgent deliverables”, I say. She sighs, clearly exhausted. I wonder what it’s really about. She says she worries about me, doesn’t want me living alone. It’s been 3 years now I remind her. I left toxicity behind and chose this life for me. And I have no qualms. She won’t relent. “I’m waiting”, she says before hanging up. Somewhere ‘Counting Stars’ starts to play and I hum on.
Getting into something new, walking on fresh hopes, weaving nascent dreams, is such an exciting journey. Does one know the destiny of it though? Of a new love, new relationship, new friendship, or a new venture, or expedition, or a vacation you take. Never did I. My therapist said, “All you can do is try your best to make things work, but don’t be a fool being the only one trying it.” I guess that’s who I was. And once I had realised, there was no looking back.
First few months, I only looked at the watch waiting for time to hurry up, for the day to pass. After the Watch-the-clock phase, came the Ignore-the-phone phase. Anyone and everyone feels like a stranger prying. Next was Eternal-regrets phase. And all through this, not once does it cross your mind that your heart is slowing down hourly, that your will is shredding minutely. So yes, living alone teaches you a lot. Most importantly, how to stop yourself from wanting to killing yourself. That’s a great feat, no one really acknowledges or pats your back for.
I’m thinking about that period today when mum called again. As soon as I said, “Yes, maa”. She went, “When are you coming? I haven’t seen you in a week.” Now I’m not bad with memory. I remember I’d met her just a couple of days back when she wanted freshly plucked lemons from my home garden. I say, “I’m working.” “But you quit your job six months back”, she protests.
I think about it for a long time after I’ve hung up the call. She knows what it’s like to be lonely, to live alone. She has seen it more closely than I ever will. It’s been 5 years since father left us. She still calls him everyday on his number that’s long discontinued. I think about it. Maybe it’s not so much about me being alone, it’s not about me being jobless. Maybe its not about me at all. It’s about her.
I call her and I get, The number you’re trying to call is busy on another call. Please try again later.
Living alone is nourishing, refreshing, just like a lemon. It changes you, for good.