The house was silent, a long, cold evening lay ahead. “It’s very boring around here without the kids,” said the husband. Our elder daughter has moved abroad for studies, and the younger one is out of town on a conference, giving us a taste of what life will be like once she, too, flies the nest.
The husband is usually glued to his phone or the TV when he’s at home, so I didn’t expect him to even notice that the kids aren’t around. “To think we have to spend the next 35 years of our lives alone together,” I said, and we stared at one another in horror.
“That’s terrible,” he said.
“I know, right,” I mourned.
Our days are usually full, so we decided to go out in the evenings, when the house is at its bleakest. We watched movies three nights in a row at our favourite hangout mall. “Maybe if we go out to watch a movie every night, we can make it?” I asked hopefully.
He was optimistic that the combined might of Hollywood and Bollywood may work.
Yesterday, after we’d watched Why Cheat India (which we quite liked), we ended up facing a unique problem: there was a traffic jam in the parking lot. “This hasn’t happened since the World Cup,” the female security guard informed us gleefully as we exited the elevator lobby. “I hope this keeps happening! It means business is picking up!” she gushed.
But sitting in a traffic jam in basement 2 wasn’t really our idea of fun, so we decided to go back up to the mall and get a drink instead.
Unfortunately, it was just past all the restaurants’ closing time (who closes restaurants at 11.30 pm on a Saturday night, anyway?) and we had to hop from place to place, beseeching eateries to let us in.
“We only want one drink,” I bargained with one of the restaurant managers. “We need a place to sit while your traffic jam clears out,” I reasonably told another. “We’ve nothing to go home to,” I explained to a third practically in tears.
It was with a huge sense of relief and gratitude when one of them let us in (here’s looking at you, TGIF) even though they were getting ready to pack up. The manager was friendly and compassionate – everything about him said, “I get it, you’re a lonely 40-something couple dealing with the empty-nest syndrome. Come on in and drink it off.”
We ordered a couple of drinks (I was driving, so only a mocktail for me). Husband sent some selfies with funny bored expressions to the kids on our family WhatsApp Group, and then we looked at one another.
“This is nice, but what do we do now?” I said. “And isn’t it expensive to go out every evening like this just because we don’t want to be alone together at home?”
We brainstormed ideas to pass the evenings.
“We can watch Netflix,” he said.
“We can go for an evening walk. The pollution isn’t so bad anymore,” I said.
“We can read books to each other,” he suggested.
“We can do that even now,” I said, putting on the Kindle app in my phone. A few books lay unread in my digital library. I clicked on Reinventing Yourself by Steve Chandler.
“I don’t read self-help books,” he said.
“Well, you can listen then,” I said, and began. He listened quietly for a bit, and then ordered another shot. “Self-help books are so much more palatable with tequila,” he explained to me.
A few pages in and we decided to leave the poor TGIF waiters and managers to finally shut down the place. The traffic jam had completely cleared out in basement 2, and we were home in no time.
“It’s not so bad being alone,” I said as we opened the door to greet our two old dogs. “I think I can put up with you by myself,” I grudgingly allowed.
“Likewise,” he nodded. Hope keeps the world going round.