Together, we can

“Why?”, I asked my mother flashing her the best puppy-eyed look I could muster “Why, me?”

Sitting across from me, my mother averted her glance just as the waiter walked up to the table with our drinks – a strong filter coffee for my mother, and a bottle of juice for me. She said nothing in reply to my question, as she took a sip of the drink.


Even though I was only fifteen years old, I knew the reason for her silence. I had just completed my 10th CBSE board exams, which I had passed with flying colours. Yes, the results had surprised me too. But nevertheless, I was riding high on the success. And then my father had dropped a bombshell.


Walking into the living room one day, while I wasΒ inconspicuously trying to watch an episode of FRIENDS, he had nonchalantly announced, “Sidharth, you’re going to a new school.” Now, my father is often known for his good sense of humour, so I just dismissed it as a prank that he was trying to pull off. I barely looked up and just let out a guffaw. But then he came over and sat down on the opposite sofa and placed his handΒ on my shoulder. “You’re going to a prestigious residential school in Kerala. There will be many kids similar to you, ones who have been born and brought up abroad in the UAE and elsewhere. So you won’t feel out-of-place either. “


Of course, the news hit me quite hard. IΒ am an only child. So as expected, my parents have always gone out of their way to make sure that I’ve had every level of comfort that they could afford to give me. That is not to say that I was spoiled for choice. No, they offered me a rein, long enough for me to be able to make my small choices, while looking out for me. So perhaps, the last thing I had thought I would ever hear was the fact that I was being ‘banished’ to the depths of a windowless, soul-less dungeon where I would have no friends, no family and was be all alone. Or at least that’s what my fifteen year old brain convinced me would happen.


What followed next were a few weeks of utter torture. Not of the mental kind, but emotionally heart wrenching. I bade a heavy-hearted good-bye to all my friends and my neighbours and was soon on my journey to this new ‘gated hell’ that awaited me. Since the summer vacations in the Middle East and in India are during different times, my father was unable to accompany us. So a couple of days before the start of the new academic year, my mother and I, made the long and arduous journey to this enormous residential school in Nilambur, thousands of miles away from home.


Now, up until that point, I had never asked my mother the reason behind my father’s actions. I mean, I did not even ask my father the reason. I just complained and tried to resist the change. But that day, sitting at this quaint little cafe, merely minutes away from walking through the gigantic wooden gates that would lead me to my new ‘home’ for the next couple of years, I was overwhelmed. Mixed emotions surged through me like roller coaster ride with no stop in sight. But somehow I gathered my wits and asked my mother why they did what they had done.


As I sat there waiting for my mother to give me an explanation, tears started to well up and for the first time I could remember, since I had entered my teenage years, I cried. No, it wasn’t a wail like how babies or little kids do when they’re hurt or throwing a tantrum. It was more of a continuous stream of pearl-shaped droplets chasing each other down the contours of my chubby cheeks, while my brain struggled to process the potential reasons behind my parents’ actions and how I would face the next two years in a strange place. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and there was absolutely no light at the end.


Suddenly my mother spoke. I wiped my tears and looked at her. Her eyes had started to well up too and the tip of her nose had turned a shade of light pink. As she gently called out my name, it struck me. This transition and change was going to be a lot difficult for her than it was for me. Yes, in due course, I would make friends and settle down. But my mother, whose life revolved around her little family, that included my father and me, would be missing a whole part when I had gone. The fact that she was a teacher who would be teaching kids around the same group as I was, would not help either. For in every pair of eyes that looked back at her while she was reading aloud that poem or story, would remind her of me.


As these thoughts rushed through my head, she pulled up her chair towards me and embraced me in a tight hug. Suddenly, I felt like a little kid again. I did not want to go anywhere, but just stay like that forever. But she cut short the embrace and looked into my eyes.


“Listen,” she said, her soothing voice offered me as much comfort as a gentle babbling brook, “We’re in this together. Even though your father might not acknowledge this, it is as difficult for the both of us to be away from you, as much as it is for you to be away from us. But we won’t be there with you forever. There will be a time in your life when you need to be able to adjust to newer surroundings, make new friends and be optimistic about the future. And that time is now! Look back fondly on the memories of all the time you’ve had with us and your friends and at your old school. They will be your light during the darkest days. And they will guide and help you to make more memories with new friends here too.”


As I quietly nodded along to everything she said, she added, “And remember son, we love you. We are doing this because we love you and want you to be independent. You can’t live in our shadows forever or live with the decisions we make for you. This is the first step to your new life. So embrace it. And for everything else, we’re always there to guide you. Together, we can do this.”



Looking back, that was perhaps the best decision that my parents had made for me. And also the last. They gave me the support that I needed to be independent, and of course have always been together with me during my low points and high ones. Today, I stand proud and tall with my head held high because of the fact that I’ve known they have always supported me. In retrospect, I might even say that was perhaps one of the most memorable moments in my life. The time that I spent with my mother in the cafe that day and listening to her telling me the reasons behind their decisions, helped me look up and be optimistic about my future. No, it wasn’t easy, but as she said, #together, we did it.


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to relive this valuable memory that has made me the person that I am today


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    1. Thanks for reading, Swati. Yes, it’s quite a difficult choice to make. And hats off to parents who are ready to let their birds fly away

  1. *wiping off the tears* your story took me back to the day when I left for the hostel, away from home for the first time in life. It was indeed the hardest moment of my life, so far! It’s so tough to leave the world of comforts behind and make a place in this real world.
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    1. Aww! Thanks for reading, Nibha. It’s a very difficult choice to make. But sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do. Everything helps us grow πŸ™‚

  2. Ha…to study in a residential school was my dream which never happened. I was a day scholar my entire school and college life.
    I am happy your parents took that decision that helped you grow as a person.
    A from the heart post Sid. Loved it.
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    1. Oh, it’s not all fun as they make it out to be in the movies or Enid Blyton books πŸ˜›
      But yes, it’s a good step to help us grow. Thanks a lot, Preethi.

  3. Wow I have goosebumps from reading your post Sid. I can just go back in my mind to that age, and how emotional we were as teenagers and what such a change must have felt like then. I’m so glad that you can put it in perspective now, and be thankful for the stepping stone that it turned out to be :).
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  4. As i was reading, I literally crossed my fingers not wanting a sad reason for sending the boy to a hostel and I am glad it ended on a positive note. πŸ™‚
    And Cheers to you & your parents for acknowledging & embracing the need for independence and togetherness go hand-in-hand! πŸ™‚

  5. Reading this, my eyes welled up too! It must be so hard for parents to let go of their children. But it is the right thing to do.
    P.S. I am sure you have heard this many times before, but I also know it is never enough – I love how you write!
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    1. Thank you so much, Nisha. You have officially made my week with that lovely comment.
      Yes, I can only imagine the feelings that were running through my parents’ minds when I was being packed off. But as they say, all’s well that end’s well πŸ™‚
      Always a pleasure to see you here.

  6. I enjoyed reading this beautifully written account of choices and decisions that are part of the role of parenting — this time from the perspective of an adult and mature son looking back. I can imagine it must have been a very difficult decision for your parents to make, but they did what they felt was the right thing to do for their son. And see how well you turned out to be – strong and independent and a doting parent too πŸ™‚
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  7. I can imagine how touch it must have been for you and also for your parents. My son is 15 and I know how innocent you must have been then and the pressures of adolesence. Even now that I think he may have to move to elsewhere for studies in a few years, is heartbreaking.

    1. Absolutely, Naba. And I now think constantly about the day Rishi will leave us and carve out his path in the big bad world. We can only be supportive. That’s the best we can promise.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Together, we canMy Profile

  8. It is very hard for parents and as you insightfully expressed it – perhaps easier for you as you would have made friends. I was put in a hostel in my 6th std in a different city and was convinced my family didn’t love me/want me anymore. Obviously, at 9 years, I didn’t know better. But thinking back I know they had reasons and took a wise decision. At any rate, it was one of the best things to happen in my life.

    Today, decades later, I am at that place with my son in the 12th std. πŸ™‚ Full circle eh? Who knows what life will bring.

    (love your “check the box” message!)
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    1. Of course, at that point I never knew that, Vidya. I suppose we must give some credit and say that ‘our parents’ did know better. Of course, just like we do now. Or that’s the story I’m going to tell my son πŸ˜›

      I can only imagine what you’re going through. But I’m sure Vidur will cope just fine. He is your son, after all.

      (The Blog Gods are so happy to hear that, Vids)
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Together, we canMy Profile

  9. It’s a young age to be apart from your family and especially since you were an only child. I was 18 when I moved out of the house and felt that I wasn’t quite ready, yet knew in my heart it was time. It was one of the hardest yet best decisions I made at the time for me. It sounds like similar with your parents’ decision. Always easier to reflect back in hindsight though isn’t it Sid? πŸ˜‰ By the way, some of your words are like poetry: β€œβ€¦a continuous stream of pearl-shaped droplets chasing each other …” – You are a natural writer Sid with your heartfelt writings: I love how you so easily (?) write about your heartfelt emotions, so vulnerable and tender. πŸ™‚ <3
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    1. Indeed, it is. Thank you so much, Elly. The power to retrospect is an amazing gift. A lot of things make a lot more sense when we look back on it in a few years. And thank you for the compliment. Sometimes the emotions just flow through the words and I make no attempt to stop it. Always a pleasure to read your lovely comments and thoughts, Elly
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  10. Sid, that was the best decision they took indeed. Parents always want the best for us. And as your mother mentioned, it would have been the toughest decision for them. All’s well that ends well. Good luck!
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  11. You’ve so wonderfully captured the poignancy of the moments you experienced back then, in this post. And yes, since I am a big believer in hindsight and in the saying that ‘all’s well that ends well’ I am happy that your parents decided what they actually did back then simply because things have turned out quite all right, or dare I say, even better than quite all right as well πŸ˜€
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  12. I agree that parting from parents at such a young age is painful. However, when children stay away from parents, they learn to fend for themselves. That helps them, in the majority of cases, to become independent and lead a more meaningful (?) life.
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    1. True that, Neelesh. I love the (?) against the meaningful part πŸ˜‰ I suppose being independent doesn’t always mean we’ll lead meaningful lives. Thankfully, I think I’ve been fortunate. Good to see you here, Neelesh bhai.
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  13. Sid, We have discussed this for my elder son and I can’t send him away to a hostel at this young age. I already feel bad enough that he will go away in a few years. I mean children hardly stay with their parents beyond 12th. What an emotional post! My heart goes out to your parents. Sending away your only child so far must be so difficult. I am glad that you look back at it with so much love and understanding.
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    1. Yes, as someone who has experienced it first hand, I think 15 is a wee bit too young. After 12th is perhaps a lot better. I suppose the other thing is that as parents, we are a generation that give our kids (well, I’m speaking a bit too early, but still) a longer rope. They have their freedom and independence and we only guide them to help them make their decisions. Of course it wasn’t so much the case when we were younger. And as I said, I think all of that helped me be a better person. so in retrospect, it was a moment that changed me. For the better, I hope.
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  14. Aww, I can totally understand that feeling, Sid and you have captured it so well! For my part though, I was the stronger one and had to console my mom when I went away to boarding at college. Of course, I was much older than you were when you went away. Lovely story, Sid. These are the things that make us what we are. Our memories πŸ™‚
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    1. Thank you, Shailaja. I think it might have all to do with the age and the maturity levels. I mean, if it had happened when I had to join college, it wouldn’t have bothered me as such. But then again, that’s perhaps why neither my parents nor me shed any teas when I joined my engineering college in Chennai.
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    1. It was a risk, Leo. One that paid off. Because I was a very different person before my ‘independence’. Why, just the idea of having to talk a woman would scare the beejeezus out of me. Thanks, buddy.
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