The husband and I always believed there was no point in owning property. We would stash all our money in the bank. That way, whenever the urge to see a different part of the world, preferably in the southern hemisphere, came upon us, we would rush out and hop on the first flight without a care.

Then Babyjaan came along. We found a Montessori school we liked. We found a neighbourhood we liked. When an apartment in that neighbourhood went on sale we said, why not, at least we’ll have a place to store our books and music. We built an oversized bookcase. We even had concealed wiring. We moved in. Everyone said: “So you’re finally settling down, eh?"

The husband seemed unperturbed and unsinged but for me, the change, which had already started a few years back, accelerated. One day I finally realized: I was a new me. I worried about managing the maids, tackling leftovers, organizing the closets, separating the laundry into whites/darks/kid’s/delicates/linen, tidying up the toys. I even devoted some time to thinking whether I should update my linen so it was colour-coordinated with my bathrooms (I settled for tidying the linen closet). The dust on that big bookshelf was driving me crazy. The final straw came at a PTA meeting, when the dynamo who runs Babyjaan’s school informed us that our daughter was taking too many holidays to travel. Apparently it was distracting the toddler from following the curriculum. Travel during her holidays, she said.

Earlier this week, it suddenly hit me. I could save myself; I still didn’t know how to make chapatis. Growing up doesn’t mean clogging your life with petty responsibilities. Women especially fall prey to that stereotypical image of a clean, efficient housekeeper and compete globally for the Ms Multitasker title. I’m not suggesting everyone smoke marijuana every evening or ignore their children’s school homework, but we could certainly replace the mindless chores with more free play time and acknowledge there’s more to life than Internet bandwidth and end of season sales.

I realized I could still follow the principles of student life. Back then, I never cared where I lived as long as I was safe and my roommate didn’t leave hair in the bathtub. I would never be caught dead in a store that sold bed sheets and bathroom accessories. I watched lots and lots of obscure movies and read so many good books. I believed that life was too short for bad TV. I went dancing. I spent so much time with friends. I cooked less. Often, I never cooked.

I think it’s easy enough to go back to that lifestyle. Starting now, I’m changing my life. It’s going to be impromptu weekend picnics in the park. I no longer care about the hand marks on my freshly painted walls. I’m going to ensure the maids get at least two days off every week, so what if there’s no chance of making it to House Beautiful magazine. The dust can stay, none of us are asthmatic. I will watch at least three movies every week, preferably subtitled. Intersperse dinner dates with dancing. Invite people over more. Order out, or just make gourmet sandwiches (sorry I never ate Maggi as a student too).

As for students, the next time you hear a preachy graduation speech about life and your future, remember, the key to happiness could lie in the way you live right now.

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