Empty Nesters: A Story Of Transition

The emptying of the homely nest had created a vacuum, but not an emptiness in their lives. Kadambari missed the incessant chatter of her daughter, Nayana, in the evening walks by the Singapore river, and the specific food requisitions of her athlete son, Dhruv, demanding this and that.

 

Kadambari’s children had grown up. They were busy living their lives independently abroad. Kadambari’s husband, Shashank, held a high-profile corporate job. He often travelled, and his official work left him with little time.

The emptying of the homely nest had created a vacuum, but not an emptiness in their lives. Kadambari missed the incessant chatter of her daughter, Nayana, in the evening walks by the Singapore river, and the specific food requisitions of her athlete son, Dhruv, demanding this and that.

Whenever Kadambari passed across the well-kempt vacant rooms, she sat on the beds, reflecting on how time flies.

It seemed as if it was just yesterday she had held the newly born in her arms.

Even when the babies were infants, her in-laws often remarked, What do you do all day? My son works hard day in and day out. And you sleep and enjoy the comforts he provides.

Such words from her mother-in-law, and sometimes from her visiting sister-in-law, hurt her.

She toiled and didn’t have the time to breathe. She used to be dead tired of fulfilling her duties as a mother, wife, and daughter-in-law. After returning from travels, her husband used to sleep throughout the weekend. On top of that, her physical health had always been fragile. Hiring domestic help to aid in household chores was a big No.

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Under the weight of expectations placed to be like Shashank’s mother, she started to fall apart. She considered herself unworthy and not as capable and efficient as the lady presumably in charge of the house was.

The work never eased. Kadambari needed to display as much stamina and strength as her mother-in-law.

She tried coping, but it was always less

It was only after decades she was able to find some time. With children leaving the nest and in-laws transitioning, she started to devote her days to her sleeping ambitions, which had often got side-lined in the wake of domestic responsibilities.

But the world around her had not changed much. If it wasn’t for her in-laws, other men and women who were indifferent and insensitive often commented inconsiderately, You got ample time on your hands to watch television and sleep at leisure; so lucky.

Kadambari realized the question had stayed all this while.

An acquaintance had insouciantly uttered a long time ago,It is just an excuse that you aspire to paint, and can’t still find the time. After all, you are a home-maker.

She had lost the desire to explain her life to others. She picked up a pen, and started to complete the story she had left midway through her life’s journey. Her nest was getting filled with her simple verses and colours. The curvature of her lips, even if she penned only two words in a day or a gentle stroke on the canvas, said it all.

Who cares what others say about her? 

She reflected, No one ever asks a man this question, so why do they ask a woman?

Her neighbour’s daughter, Nitika, once stated, “Oh, so you write and paint. How I wish my parents also found something to keep them occupied. They have nothing to do after retirement.” Kadambari had no words for Nitika’s casual statement.

She explained, “Your parents have worked hard to raise you and your brother. Now, I see them managing their grandchild. What more do you expect from them?”

Kadambari couldn’t help but feel sorry for Nitika’s lack of understanding. Her parents will never be empty nesters.

 

Image source: Still from the film, Cheeni, streaming on Hoichoi, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Alka Balain

Alka loves to write poetry and dabbles in colours. She is exploring her creative side at a late stage in life. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in several journals and anthologies. Sometimes a read more...

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