How I came to love solitude

What is it like to be in company of yourself? And could it lead to introspection?



by

Suresh Pattali

Published: Thu 17 Nov 2022, 7:02 PM

Crazy guys. Some cynical. Some sarcastic. Some funny. Some loving. Some concerned. Some cruel. Messages had been pouring in ever since my partner boarded a flight the previous night for a longer break.

“Congratulations.”

“Welcome back to the bachelor club.”

“Freedom at midnight.”

“Independence Day.”

“Let the party begin.”

“Pop the cork.”

“Back to school.”

These messages were from guys who had never let their wives set their foot on the Arabian soil. The GDRFA tried its level best to make it possible, but these guys wouldn’t budge.

“Who will do the house chores, Suresh? Cleaning, gardening, et al?”

“Are you looking for a male cook or a female one?”

“Part-time or full time?”

“Those lovely bougainvillea and neem trees. Fate, what else?”

“Maybe, you can share our cook. She can earn some extra, no?”

These were from the neighbourhood groups I am a member of, after my partner let them know — in her own surreptitious way of telling them to keep a watch on me — about her departure.

“Are you sure you can manage? You have a lot on your plate, right?”

“Who will take care of your diet? You are diabetic, no?”

“What happens if you get another episode of panic attack?”

“Always carry your ID when you go for your morning walk.”

“Do not lock your toilets from inside, and keep the back door unlocked, just in case.”

There was a monsoon of such expressions of concern from the wellness heads among colleagues, neighbours and even doctor-friends. Thank you, guys.

“When are you calling us home?”

“Let’s have a garden party, yaar, with barbecue.”

“Hey, did you renew your MMI licence? Let’s plan a sleepover, why risk driving back?”

“He might even plan a pole dance show; you don’t know him.”

“Hey, game for a back-to-bachelor party? Let me know the date.”

Read them from left or right, the above messages from our regular social animals will not mean anything beyond what they want: food and drinks.

The most hilarious message came from a female friend who sent an old Tamil comedy clip where an elated husband (actor Janagaraj) runs around like a town crier announcing the departure of his wife for her hometown: “Yen pondaati oorukku poitaaaa. (My wife left for her hometown)” It might sound malapropos but I’m not sure if there’s a better way to assuage any separation anxiety that departure lounges are synonymous with.

But what I did was a far cry from the tsunami of tips that flooded my inbox. Responsibilities weighed me down the next morning. A lone voice mail reminded me of the challenges that lay ahead. “This is a godsend opportunity to complete your manuscript. Do not while away your solitude.”

I wanted a new beginning. Not the mundane cleaning, scrubbing and watering that any ageing Tom, Dick and Harry does. A new perspective on life. I wanted to fall in love with life again. I wanted to romanticise my baldness and wrinkles. I wanted to turn the hourglass over on all the kiddish things I had not done for ages because of the invisible familial bondage you never felt existed when you were in it.

For once, I drove to the desert without a grocery list pasted on the back of my conscience. There was no invisible camera to snoop on the passenger seat. No one set an alarm on my sleeping hour or chat time. For the first time, my favourite news channel stayed constant for a long while. I took a call on the number of whistles the pressure cooker should set out. The size of the sambar pieces was my choice. The salt, pepper and other spices that went into the curies were in my measurement. I decided if the Chicken Manchurian should be with gravy or semi-gravy.

For a change, the morning man that I have been wanted to enjoy a sunset in the desert. I turned a page on my protagonist’s philosophy that the sunset was melancholic and depressive. The sun didn’t pull the curtain down on a glorious day; I believed the cosmic hero just went backstage to change his costume for a new epic act. I watched a bright new sunrise of positivity in my heart.

As I watched the celestial show, the desert turned into a lavender oasis where my protagonist sashayed like an angel plucking poems. The sun wasn’t crimson. The night wasn’t inky. The sky soaked in the violaceous hue that the sunset radiated across the universe. Words rained down on me like stardust as the Shamal winds whistled:

I am your quill, and you are my ink.

I am your words, and you are my thoughts.

suresh@khaleejtimes.com

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