Twenty years ago, we were peers, working in different companies, struggling to make sense of a life full of tension, inadequate remuneration, high personal taxation, hardly any savings, and so on and so forth. Both of us were however, ‘high’ on Corporate Life, with attendant perquisites like, 5 Star Hotel accommodation while on tours, Business Class Air travel, chauffeur driven cars, fat expense accounts etc. Both of us were ear marked for greater things, when I decided that enough was enough and quit to change over to a smaller company with higher remuneration, less headaches and higher savings potential. I have not regretted that move yet. It perhaps saved me from cardiac problems, enabled me to purchase and settle down in our own home in a town of our liking and life was good.
My friend stayed on, and has just retired last year but has had two by-pass surgeries and is struggling to come to grips with retired life combined with an empty nest syndrome. He and I gradually lost touch with each other after I relocated. It was therefore quite a surprise for me to get a phone call from him a few days ago to convey his condolences on Urmeela’s passing away. He had just then got to know about it and called me to apologize and to cheer me up! We had a nice long chat with the usual “let us try and meet up” etc and were about to end the call when he dropped a bomb on me which has prompted me to attempt this post. He simply said, and I quote him verbatim, “I envy you your freedom!”. I probed to find what he meant and he simply reiterated the same and disconnected.
Since then, I have been musing about this startling statement about my current status of a widower. Does that give others the impression of my being free from the bonds, the restrictions and the problems of matrimony? Or what quite is that in my present status that makes someone like my friend, ‘envy my freedom’?
This post is an attempt at resolving some of the questions that have arisen in my mind about the status, more to think in writing rather than to create something to post as a blog.
As I understand, Freedom would mean two aspects of living. One, Freedom from something and two, Freedom to do something. In both cases, would his envy translate to mean that he is not free from something and he is not free to do something? What are the constraints from which, I have now got freedom? What are the things that I could not do before my status changed, that I can now do with my new found freedom?
Possibly with the exception of Grannymar, I doubt that anyone else from my regular readers can quite understand the significance of this musing, as none simply has the experience. It is a very intense and interesting thought process that I am going through as I attempt this post. As I had said earlier, this is to get my thinking structured more than anything else and so, please do bear with me, this long rambling post.
I have been racking my brains over this subject for the last five days and am yet to come up with something concrete to say categorically, that the changed situation has given me freedom from something and freedom to do something that I did not have earlier.
The only freedom that I can honestly say that I have got from, is the one as caregiver for Urmeela, a role that had been part of my personality for the past nine years. On the other hand, while I am indeed free from that responsibility, I have now the responsibility of giving care to my father and to a smaller extent, my son. So, the volume has come down, but the value has not. In other words, while one part of that responsibility has gone, the responsibility itself has not. The intensity is less but the commitment is still there. So, I cannot really say that I have got freedom from giving care.
Would it mean that I now have freedom from matrimony? I find that difficult to accept as, I am still emotionally tied to Urmeela, albeit she is no longer physically with me here. Her memory is more intense than when she was alive and the emotional state that I am is difficult to explain. Suffice it to say that I do not feel free from matrimony, or more truly, free from the memory of that matrimony.
I really am unable to think of anything else that I can say that I am free from in my current status of a widower. That is, compared to the time that I was married.
Coming to freedom to do something because I am now a widower, I have tried every possible thing that I can do as a widower that I could not have done when I was married. Apart from the one very obvious issue of adultery, I cannot think of anything that I am now free to do, that I could not have done when I was married. Adultery, now replaced by let us say, a relationship with another woman, is not exactly very appealing just now. I am quite prepared to have an open mind about that, but for the moment, I am just not so inclined.
I wonder if my old friend is having marital problems, which makes him envy my single status. A distinct possibility, but about which, I feel quite delicate to ask him directly.
So, what do you think is that aspect of my current status that someone envies as being my freedom? Your answer/s may well clarify my own thinking about this matter. Thank you.