The silence in the house is loud. The void is prevalent. Emotions overwhelm me. I worry more. Words lack flavour. It is a chore to write, and my favourite camera on the desk is gathering dust. I cook for four instead of three. The garden and its flowers and butterflies fail to motivate me.
My husband misses his companion. He hasn’t laughed aloud for a while. I stare into my son’s empty room, straighten his bed, walk away. His wardrobe is chaotic. I suddenly sense an order in the heap of clothes. I let it the way it is.
A few days back my son left home to pursue his studies in another continent. His subject of study was unique. It was not what other kids were doing. It was a road less travelled and explored. In spite of the overwhelming doubts and fears, he stood his ground and worked towards his goal for a year.
As parents, we trusted his passion and encouraged his dreams, but it was an agonizing year filled with worries about the future. It still is. We were glad he got selected, and the smile on his face after many months was precious. The news meant he had to live away from us and we had no other choice, but to let him go.
All young ones have to fly, chase their dreams. Birds have taught us, haven’t they?
I look back and remember his first day at the play home. He was happy to see so many kids. The opportunity to explore a new world lay right in front of him. He disengaged his fingers from mine and went ahead, joined the queue to play the slide. He did not look back, not even once to see if I was there. I anticipated he will cry. He did not. I stood behind a tree and watched him make friends and play along.
After a while, I just wished he would cry, and I could gather him in my arms and run home. But that day, I walked home alone, with tears in my eyes and cried on my husband’s shoulders. They were my first tears as a mother. There have been many more ‘firsts’ for us since. There have been success and failures in many endeavours. Tears and laughter. Abandoned hopes. Unexpected surprises.
In this continuing journey we have learned to trust unconditionally. Encourage dreams and believe in a passion that was not ours. Our collective lesson in parenting is a graphical wave of ups and downs. They are precious and memorable only to us.
But the history of these “firsts” is old, as old as humans. My mother must have felt the same way when I left home for my education. I remember the emotion filled face of my father when I left for my husband’s home, my new home. It must have been the same with our grandparents and then theirs.
In the short time we had to pack and prepare for his journey. My son often kept telling me not to cry when he leaves. “I shall feel sad if you do. And don’t come to the airport. It will definitely make you cry”, he added. We assured him we will not.
When the day came, we were all in smiles but only until the car moved, turned into the alley and vanished from our sight. We stood there for some time, as umpteen parents around the world do, watch their fledgling fly away to sharpen its feathers. Tears rolled down my face. I was glad he did not see it.
In my book of life, Chapter forty-two reads, “Empty Nest.” It mirrors in his book as Chapter eighteen, “Future.” As Douglas Adam said, “42, is an ordinary, smallish number. But it has the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything.”
Subhashini Chandramani is mother of a teenager. She is a homemaker and poetical story-teller who writes under the pen name, neelavanam which means the blue sky. You can follow her thoughts at http://neelavanam.tumblr.com/ and @Neelavanam on Twitter.