I‘m not sure if it was the frequent bickering or an addiction to a freer lifestyle, but as India neared a COVID-19 induced lockdown in late March of this year, I struggled with the decision of returning home. I can’t cook anything except eggs and instant noodles, and with indications of indefinite restrictions on movement, it made rational sense to return to my parents’ home in New Delhi.
Now, I hadn’t lived with them for more than two weeks at a stretch for years, and parents have an odd way of treating their near 30-year-old kids as, well, kids. Deciding between the possibility of living on eggs and some mild annoyance with la familia, the prodigal son in me returned home before the country went into lockdown.
Incredulously, it’s not been as bad as I’d feared. With my parents ageing and contemplating mortality, they’re not being as particular about my diet, and are giving me more privacy and space to work from home. It was scary at first, but maybe, the most stubborn people in all our lives are growing up too?
To understand the experiences of how other young adults are faring with their parents, Re:Set asked people what it’s like living at home during lockdown.
Shrishti Malhotra, 25, Kolkata
The last time I lived at home was when I was 18. I’ve been home now for nearly six weeks, and it’s the longest I’ve been here in the seven years since.
Previously, there were points of tension. They’d ask me about my plans for the future, despite me working. My parents are doctors and I was a history student, so they were worried. Until recently they’d ask me to explain my work. I’m a video producer and those conversations were tense. This time though, it’s been different.
They’ve understood a little about my job, my career, and that’s reduced the tension a little bit, and we’ve been able to open up. Sometimes, when we just speak to them on the phone about what we eat everyday, they become just these distant people on the phone, you know.
Now I’ve had some of my most profound conversations with them during this lockdown. Our meal times have become really precious. I’m getting to know them for the first time. I’m seeing that they’re older, and I want to be there for them, like they’ve been for me.
Ruchier Kathuria, 24, New Delhi
I’ve been living with them for about eight months now after four years away in a hostel. Lot of my friends from university and my partner live outside Delhi, so I’d take short trips to see them every now and then. But I haven’t stepped out in eight weeks and staying at home has been extremely difficult. Parents just compound that problem.
It started out like a vacation, but how much Netflix can one person watch? I’m tired of seeing the same people again and again. And because they’re parents, I can’t lock myself in my room and not see them, so it’s become a 24×7 chore. It’s not their fault, but I have no space for me anymore. I have to wait until 11pm to speak to my partner. You can only do it for so long.
Anuj Kalra, 27, New Delhi
I don’t know if it’s because of the lockdown or not, but my relationship with my parents has improved. It wasn’t bad earlier, but I would get irritated with them treating me as a kid, not giving me my privacy, but it all seems quant by comparison now.
My father’s a workaholic, he doesn’t enjoy sitting at home. I too was busy in my own life, but now we play badminton together, I make sure we have a meal together. I also took up the responsibility to cook sometimes and that puts things in perspective about how hard housework is because it really is exhausting. I was in the kitchen for three hours the other day and I think I died. I don’t know how my mother has been doing it for all this time with a smile on her face.
I keep my door open too now. Earlier it was closed and I’d just go out to get food, but that’s been the biggest positive change for me. All my parents want is to spend some time with me, even if it’s just a little bit. So we’re together more and that has allowed us to just reset our outlook. It made them happier, and now they give me more space without even asking.
Aashna Sharma, 23, Mumbai
I’m just not used to staying at home for a long time, as most of my days were spent at college or at work. So in the beginning, the lockdown was quite bad. We’d keep shuffling between rooms to take work calls, so there’s not a lot of space to work.
But it’s gotten better with time. The lockdown has made me more appreciative of my parents because I’m just seeing how much work they put into doing household chores. Parents just try to make our lives better and it’s hard to see that sometimes.
Maybe I’m feeling this way because they’ve gone out for groceries right now. (Laughs)