In my half-a-decade away from the nest, there’s a part of my life that has unfolded away from the probing eyes of my virtuous family. I’ve signed up as a part of a nameless faceless underground commune that operates in deep cover beyond their state lines. We leave no digital footprints on Facebook, have our digital privacy settings on ‘paranoid’, and watch our comrades’ backs during emergencies like off-the-cuff calls by the clingy mommy mob or sightings by the sly aunty gang.
However, unlike Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, or Clark Kent, we don’t save the city in a mask and latex suit. Hell, most of us 20-somethings can’t save ourselves from the stale Aloo Patties and burnt coffee in the office cafeteria once we’ve tackled rent and a sadistic volley of bills.
Yet we wage a shadowy war behind our ‘chill’ personas – frantically verifying every Insta follower’s background like a suspicious bouncer on girl’s night, receding into invisible vortexes if the caller ID reads ‘Maa’ or ‘Papa’ and call upon our commune to transform indoor spaces within minutes before a raid, make the boyfriend or girlfriend disappear like a fart in the air or call for emergency evacuation with our codewords ‘mom’s calling’, ‘mom’s coming’ or the emblematic ‘mom’s here.’
I’ve been aceing this elusive 007-esque hide-and-seek for half a decade now, masquerading my anxious, confused, and overworked self as an eloquent, ambitious, and measured professional who has a grip on life. It’s such a predictable night routine now – ‘I’m home, had dinner, work is great, I’m the happiest I could ever be.’ *click* However, on quiet Saturday nights, hugging my bolster, right before I pass out to Amit Trivedi crooning in the background, it’s hard not to wonder how little it would take for much of this cold war to end.
It’s a one-line showdown – ‘Dad, I’m a lesbian’, ‘Mom, I’m in love with a Muslim girl’, ‘Bhaiya, I smoke weed’, ‘Didi, I like partying until late’. A quiet sob, a slap, and a hug later it’ll be as much as a part of our reality as student debt, brutal cover charges at clubs, and mad traffic. Most of us see our parents twice a year anyway, what difference does it make!
The first thing that hit most of us right out of college was a ton of debt and the angst of buying bruised vegetables online on our way back from a 12-hour workday. Given so many of us slave for sixty-hour weeks in hyper-growth startups, work multiple jobs as a freelancer, and have ‘unpaid’ internships, we don’t quite ‘live on the edge’ anyway!
For a generation capable of such imposing piles of bullshit, it’s curious how we scurry for cover every time our parents nonchalantly drop ‘what do you do with what you earn!’ sutli bombs, and not pull off our boardroom showdown-style fatalities and go ‘FINISH HIM’ with sacks of millennial truth grenades.
To parents cribbing that their inane adult ‘kids’ will burn the world to the ground, I say they’ll be fine. For a generation that clears draconian DU cutoffs and braves Bangalore traffic or Mumbai rains, it won’t take us long to realize YOLO is not a retirement plan, and if we live like we’ll die tomorrow, we’d wish we did if we do live. Until then, we only ‘need’ more solo trips, bear hugs from doting friends, and cheese-burst Pizza, in that order.
I believe if we stay true to ourselves and the world, we can rid our colonies of the ‘abh toh settle ho ja! (settle down now)’ epidemic inflecting so many of our families. Till then, we shall fight at inane family weddings, we shall fight in the gaudy living rooms of family friends & the swankiest of NRI kitty parties. We shall fight with a ballsy boldness and shameless sass like none other. We shall never settle.