A strange affliction

A strange affliction

My friend was not alone to be afflicted with the empty nest syndrome.

“We feel abandoned!” The despair in my friend’s voice had me almost getting out of my chair. What on earth was he talking about? It couldn’t be the fact that his child had left home for college in another city. That had been a few years ago. When I had visited him a year back, he had been preoccupied with work and had hardly touched the delicious Mysore masala doses that we had ordered. Any fleeting references he had made about his son seemed perfunctory at best.

“I'm sure he comes home often,” I whispered trying to be the sympathetic friend. Now it was his turn to look at me perplexed. For the next few minutes, we seemed to be talking at cross-purposes even as my husband’s eyes darted from one side to the other as if he was a silent witness at a table tennis match. Then the penny dropped.

My friend was ruing the absence of a good television programme for late-night entertainment at home. “It's something that my wife and I did together as a couple since our boy left home” he declared. I was hard-pressed not to laugh out loud. He continued in the same vein lamenting on how two of his favourite shows had stopped airing.

“Now we’re at a loose end!” The list in my head was beginning to overflow as I could think of a million and one activities for this couple. But my husband's hard glance stopped me from making any suggestions. My friend was not alone to be afflicted with the empty nest syndrome.

When my younger one left home for college recently, my husband and I began watching a television programme together. Soon enough, he got bored and insisted on watching another show. After much debate and recriminations on who would control the remote, we gave up.

Walking seemed to be less complex. We agreed on a mutually convenient time and began to walk every day, rain or shine. Braving ferocious four-legged creatures who seemed to mysteriously gravitate towards us and nosy walkers determined to halt our stride for a long chat, we didn’t give up easily the first few days. Then our troubles began in the form of hamstring muscles being pulled (mine) and frozen shoulder (his).

Now we simply sit on two chairs next to each other with our feet raised, the smell of Amrutanjan or Tiger Balm permeating the air and the bottle of painkillers within arms reach. There is a comforting silence between us when I hear the phone ring. It’s my friend calling me to find out how we are doing.

After commiserating with me, he asks, “So what are you going to do now?” I didn't have the heart to let him know that my hand was hovering on the television remote.

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