“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Empty Nest Syndrome

Peering at the TV through the haze of sedatives, I watch happy people enjoying an ocean cruise. In the ports they visit in the Caribbean Islands, they go for adventure trips. I see them sunning themselves on the ship's deck, playing and dancing. Happiness. I guess there isn’t any thing as lovely as smiling, laughing people.

As the effect of the sedative wanes, I sense the familiar pain creeping up, growing. Sedatives dull physical pain and to some extent dull the mind too. But back in my mind, I am still acutely aware of the series of misfortunes that I have been experiencing in the last one year or so. Financial, health, family problems have been pouring in. In addition, K, who had been with us for the last 18 years has left for college in Bangalore.

Even when K was a little boy, I was in favour of sending him to a boarding school; not that I didn’t want him with us, but I wanted him to be self-reliant as early as possible. But then, K being a single child, P was vehemently against sending him to JK’s Rishi Valley School, where I had hoped K would get the training to grow up into a sensitive, responsible, self-dependant, liberal-minded and above all, a humane person. Of course, we have been able to inculcate in him whatever such values we upheld, but I feel that the main responsibility of parents is to groom their offspring to survive in this harsh world. That is the biological purpose of parenting – to ensure a strong and continuous lineage, a passing on of the DNA that they inherited. Life is a baton to be passed on, in the unending Relay of existence.

Two weeks into his absence, P and I feel it so badly. Even Sancho, now that Tommy is no more, had found a playmate in K for the roughhouse games he loved. All that barking and running and jumping and nipping and the excitement of playing. I am a bit too old and find Sancho’s energy too much for me. But with K around, Sancho did not seem to miss Tommy much. Now, Sancho lies gloomily beside my feet. He is not even interested in his favourite dog biscuits.

I fervently hope I will get back to the past, normal life. There are many things to do. Like disposing our old house and moving to a quieter, cooler place. My peculiar health condition demands cooler climes. And what would be better than Himalayas? P is from Trichur; most of her people are settled around in Kochi. Another 4 years and she would be 55 and retire. After which she wants to settle down there or thereabouts like Tripunithura. Me? I have nowhere to go. My siblings do not care and they are scattered all over the country. Friends too. I have nothing to hold me back to Trivandrum except my job, which I hope to resign from, once I sell my ancestral house and gain a tidy sum. After that? A little patch of land somewhere in the high mountains where I can be myself and pursue my dreams of writing or traveling. I want nothing much.

K, at 18, now doing his undergraduate course in Psychology at Christ University, Bangalore, is standing at the threshold of his adult life. He had wanted to study psychology since his 10th standard. At Christ, he hopes to get a better exposure and the opening up of new vistas to his future.

I sit alone in this empty nest. My son is flapping his wings as strength flows into his limbs for a takeoff. P has very clear plans for her future. I wouldn’t really mind if they do not include me. Quite likely I would be a hindrance.

For me, white, fluffy clouds move up in the sky. Sky, that can darken or brighten up into a deep blue at its whim. Sky, that can open up or close down. Sky, as vast and unending as life…

Balachandran V Trivandrum 22.06.2010


  1. Sir, I feel that you're getting better...

  2. Dey overwhelming Post Heading,"the empty nest syndrome".

    But yet again the person behind the veiled rough countenanance , V Balachandran , son of the late Smt Padmavathi Amma and the late Sri Viswanathan Nair has shown himself glaringly candid.

  3. the words have unbelievably expressed some of the most delicate and hard to explain emotions.

    Christ is a good college, and am sure K would do good, so would you!!

    Follow your heart, young man! your words shall keep you young forever..

  4. Dear B, oh how well I know this feeling..it is one of such lonesomeness.. No matter how many people are around you, that life that you brought into this world is floating around in your mind but not within grasp..I know..Oh how I know....

  5. @Meenakshi: Glad you liked the piece. Thanks.

    @Sandy: This too shall pass...

  6. As of now, I am dreaming of the time when my kids will go and study in a good college and learn to live by themselves, be friends to each other and stop fighting. But maybe when the time is upon me..I will share your sentiments. I know I will..because like all other facets of parenthood, this is one too!

  7. while you had him, I know you HAD him, and that's important. I dont think you'll lose him ever.

    The Himalaya part is exciting, though I hope you would stay around us.

    In any case dont think we're going to let u enjoy your retirement in quiet. If its on the earth, the Bull will get us there. And come we shall to shatter your peace!



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