I wrote this a couple of months back and am still counting my blessings. Now that I might leave home again… the sadness that I feel at the thought of leaving them seems quite ironical but in a good way.
It’s been another bad week at work. With the increasing level of stress and unhappiness at work, I am pleasantly surprised and probably just realizing the progress we’ve made at home, as a family.
A quick backstory to understanding why it’s so important to me – when my parents moved back, tensions at home used to be quite alarming. It was a situation where three individuals who had spent the better part of their lives alone (mom in Chennai, dad in the Middle East and me here) were made to live under the same roof. Each one of us had to let go of a bit of ourselves in order to accommodate and cohabit with the rest. That, compounded with all the financial stress, sort of ensured that there wasn’t any easy way to create a new bond between my dad and myself. Since we moved out of Saudi, he’d never really been a part of my life. Apart from the occasional phone calls, updates and seeing each other for 2 weeks a year, there wasn’t really a lot underneath the relationship. All he knew of me was the small kid he had seen and lived with back in the 90s. So, when we moved back in, I think there was a fair amount of shock and getting used to – 1) I was not a kid anymore 2) I had begun to actively question his decisions. It was only a matter of time before our fights escalated and exploded… almost beyond repair. At some point, he completely shunned me out. We lived in the same house, but pretended and lived like we were strangers. He wouldn’t address me directly, anything that needed to be said would be through my mother or via emails. (Thinking back now, I think that’s the only way he knew how to communicate. That’s exactly the relationship he has with his brothers). Often, he would refer to me as “that girl who lives in this house”.
Moving from the small cramped up space in Telok Blangah to the spacious one at CCK had a huge impact. We weren’t on each others’ necks anymore. We each got our personal space whilst also sharing some common ones. Over the last two years, and with my brother moving in, we’ve begun to behave more like a family. Until I was in NUS (almost a year back), I would spend most of my time in my own room. I’d only spend some time in the hall if I needed to stay up/work late. If things heat up, I’d head right back into my room. My room was where I lived. The house was where my family lived. Recently though, I’ve barely spent any real time in my own room. I always sit with them in the hall even if I’m working. Staying back in my own room feels so alien today.
What hit me yesterday was following my own chain of thought – after the disastrous day at work, I got super emotional and decided I’d be better off staying in and reading or something… but I come home and saw all of them sitting together, chatting & eating, I freshened up and went straight to the hall to join them. In a few moments, I had forgotten all about the events of my day. These days, my dad waits for me and my brother to come back to eat with us. He doesn’t eat by his computer much. He addresses me directly. He even makes fun of me and tries to enact scenes from Big Boss imagining my reaction to whatever drama was going on that day. This week, he even proactively initiated to play trivia games on google home mini with just me… not my brother, not as a family, but just me and him. A really long way to have come.. for ‘a girl who just lived in this house’ to… well whatever this new bond is.
After so many years, I finally feel more at home and less like a stranger… at my own home. Back in 2015, I wouldn’t have thought this was a possible future for me or my family. I’m just incredibly grateful for these moments that we do share today.