I have lived away from home for about two years now to study away at university. For the most part, I have become accustomed to living apart and I am only visited by occasional bouts of melancholia lasting a few minutes. Comforting for me is the thought that home is only a few hours drive away and if I really want to go home I could hop on a bus and be home the same day to be with family and friends, back to a way of life that I have always known and loved.
Talking to a friend last week I felt at a loss in trying to make him feel any better. He has been living in North America for close to three years and he was missing his parents and friends back in India. He was living the life most of us live here but without the network of support that is necessary to lend meaning and sustenance to life. He worked from 9 in the morning till evening, only to as he put it ?come home to an empty house?. Work was the only thing he ever did which would have been enough if only his work left him feeling satisfied. But it did not. Lately, he felt increasingly isolated without friends and family. It was not easy for him to make friends either at his new workplace given that most were much older than he, married and with kids. He could only smile and nod when others made conversations, and felt he could contribute nothing. He visited India frequently during the year, and this lessened his homesickness but it was a rather expensive way for him to cope. He found himself feeling quite depressed and losing interest in life.
His family?s solution was to ?find a nice girl in India to marry? but such an idea was not appealing to him. He said to me he is still enough of a romantic to want love to be the basis of his marriage. But knowing him as I do, I also think his answer has a lot to do with his maturity. I doubt he would take such a strong stance if he were in a financially stable position. He understands the pressures they will face in trying to set up a home as he at the moment is not able to support a wife in a manner which he would like, not unless they were to live in a shoe box for an apartment and made to do with the bare minimum in life. So he remains single for now.
Other than returning home, marriage would seem like the next best thing to most. An obvious solution but certainly not without thorns, for those who are less than careful in its application. Marriage allows one to share life, its highs and its lows and it can be a medium through which one can grow and love. Certainly, when you are blessed with children, you become involved in the welfare of the children and settle down in domesticity where the acquisition of the latest toys, report card performance and school plays dominate the agenda alongside career goals and pay rises. With marriage, you can start to build your own community albeit a small one and it will offer a measure of comfort to those who feel no ties. On the other hand, marriage can at times also intensify feelings of loneliness and alienation in a couple especially if their lives are not balanced in the new world they live in.
Take the case of the young woman who leaves behind her family to follow her husband to another part of the country or a new country altogether. The only person she can communicate meaningfully with is her husband, but let us say that her husband works from 9 till 6, and when he comes home he is buried in his work because such is his job or such is his priority in life. The young woman who has no job (not for the want of trying) finds it hard to bear life cooped up within four walls. While her material self can ask for little, her spiritual self is hungry for a little love and concern. There is only so much television she can watch, so many books she can read and so many walks she can take by herself. It is clear then for this marriage to be satisfactory, both their lives need to be balanced. Just as he is involved in work, she must be involved in work. If he has leisure time, she needs leisure time. If he has friends, she needs to have friends. Without friends and family to lessen the tensions of loneliness and boredom, the problem still remains in essence to be a lack of community involvement for the ?young woman who cannot turn to her busy husband for meaningful support?. Marriage then is only partial compensation for those in an alien land, but never complete if ties to the community, one?s friends and family, are lacking. Problems of loneliness, and isolation should not automatically be judged to have disappeared once people are married.
Whatever the reasons are that compel us to live so far away from home, sometimes oceans across those we love; they are varied to say the least. Some of us are young professionals, others young brides, still others young parents. Yet for most of us, at the heart of it all is a desire for a better life and the courage to live out a beautiful dream. It is in these hopes that we must find the strength to achieve success in spite of what we face along the way. But we must also move forward with an understanding that is grounded in realism. The caveat for success is that there is always a price to pay. I am reminded of something I read a few months back. If you suffer without succeeding, it is so that someone may succeed after you. If you succeed without suffering, it is because someone suffered for you. But there is no success without suffering. And for some of us we pay that price in miles and kilometers.
Author: Tanya Pinto- Canada