For eight glorious days this past month, I was alone at home. Except for the dog. And the part-time domestic helpers. And the gardener who drops in every alternate day. And the doorbell being rung several times a day by the driver, the building guard, the fruit-wala, the Amazon delivery guy, the milkman, the garbage collector and the dog-walker.
Except for all that, I was alone.
In the evening, after the doorbell stopped ringing (unless I’d ordered dinner) and it was just my Golden Retriever Miyake and I in my study, I’d put on soft jazz on Spotify or allow YouTube to take me on an 1980s pop relay, and sway, looking Miyake in the eye as she gazed on indifferently.
Or I’d do a few exercises my rehabilitation therapist has taught me for my achy wrist. Or I’d work on my computer, or watch Netflix, or chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, or just walk about lost in thought, or read the dozen books on my bedside table, or put the laundry away.
I’d languor in bed, its entire six-foot width to myself, and roll about complacently.
I’d have no need to wear my clothes in the bathroom after my shower, and – like a man – I could just walk out in a towel or even stark naked into my bedroom, and get dressed there. Sometimes, I wouldn’t get dressed at all, and would boldly walk about in my undies, feeling like a cat that got the cream. Miyake didn’t care.
I’d make tea for one whenever I felt like it, and fill my dinner plate directly in the kitchen, no need for setting the table. Or I’d skip dinner and have popcorn instead. I’d leave the drawing room messy and my bed unmade. I’d read articles on unmarried women without children being the healthiest and happiest populations on the planet, and nod in understanding. I’d message my kids and husband lots of “I love you”s and hearts of all hues, because I really meant it.
I’d never loved them more as when they were out of my hair.
I’d walk Miyake late at night for her last pee of the day, unafraid of the dark alleys and the strays because my old deaf doggie and I had each other’s backs.
Late at night, I’d read again or chat with a friend through WhatsApp or masturbate if I wanted or have an argument with Miyake because she’d want to sleep in my room while I wanted her outside because she is noisy. Finally, she’d curl up just outside my door, and scratch on it all night or pee in my study in revenge.
When one of the kids and the husband returned from their travels, I greeted them with a genuine warm hug full of affection and love.
“Did you miss me?” the husband asked tenderly.
“Not really,” I smiled. “But I love you a lot.”
“I would have really missed you if you’d been gone so long,” he said, grumpily. “I don’t like being alone.”
“I love you,” I repeated firmly and emptied out his and the daughter’s luggage, put their dirty clothes in the laundry, threw away the used boarding cards and crumpled papers and empty medicine strips from their backpacks, gave the cook instructions for the next few meals, ordered groceries for more people, reminded the newspaper guy to re-start all dozen newspapers again, handed over the TV remote, put all the power-banks on charge, tidied up the place and set the table.
“I can’t believe you don’t miss me when I’m gone,” the husband complained, adding, “I want tea.”
Eight glorious days.
Lead image: Taking selfies of myself, by myself.
First published in eShe’s August 2019 issue