Playing 2 Aces with Place and Space
After a stint of 15 years abroad, I arrived in Chennai to begin my life here. I had a successful career out there and was quite comfortable settling there. My family thought otherwise, they wanted to enjoy the freedom of being in their own country and get to know our rich traditions and culture. They were longing to find their identity back in India and introduce themselves to my friends and relatives.
I studied Engineering way back in the 90s and struggled to find a decent job. I lived with my parents in one of the dinghy streets of Triplicane in Chennai with hardly any place to move around. The place was so constructed that the wall of one house’s kitchen was the wall of the neighbor’s living room. I wanted my own space and privacy and hence worked hard to land in a company which would take me abroad. And there I was in US, enjoying the vast space, richness and cleanliness of the country I longed to live in, right from my college days. I married an Indian girl from a family who settled in the country 2 generations back and we had 2 children. The yearning to get back to our country seemed to be more with her and the children than me. Unable to resist their interest, here I was, back in our country with my family.
In US, we had a vast home with apple trees and a beautiful garden that stepped right into a slow stream. That was my first investment and I was quite upset to leave it behind. I refused to sell the house hoping that I may be back there in US in few months. Having been so used to living in huge space, I found the places here in Chennai small and inconvenient. Issues started cropping with my family and I kept insisting them to move back to US for better living conditions.
My parents moved to Coimbatore after I left for US. I tried convincing them to join me there but they refused. I wanted them to enjoy living in a big house with all convenience as I did in US and so sent them money to buy land and build a house in Coimbatore. Hectic activities of resettling in Chennai kept me busy and finally I decided to go to Coimbatore to meet them over a weekend. I wanted to make it somehow because something told me that I would soon leave back to US.
I was surprised to see my parents living in a home with just 1 bedroom and 1 living room apart from kitchen. My parents were extremely happy to see me but I was furious seeing their living conditions. My dad asked me to rest first and my mom provided me with a lip smacking lunch. I do not remember how long I slept after lunch but when I woke up, it was almost evening. My anger had taken a back seat after enjoying such good food and rest after a long time. I was filled with childhood memories and surprisingly, I felt joyous and had no regrets. I inquired my dad about living in such a small house though I had provided them with money to have a palatial home.
My dad replied that the living space in the house was quite sufficient for them. I could see that there was truth in my dad’s statement. My parents were happy, supporting each other and were living a contented life. The next question I had in my mind was about the money I sent them. My dad took me out for a walk and showed me a community of about 10 compact homes that were built-in a similar fashion as my parent’s. My dad explained that these houses were built by him using the money I sent him to accommodate old age people who did not have any family support or livelihood. I saw many couples sitting out and chatting happily. It was evident that it is not only living space but the space we give each other that matters most in life.
I needed no more words to make me understand that life is what we make it out to be and needless to say, the next weekend, our family was in my parents’ home for a happy get together.