The Hardest Thing To Do Is To Talk


By Arathi Devandran @miffalicious 

And online at:

Youth Talk Columnist

Youth Talk Columnist

The best thing that I have ever done is to leave home, my comfort zone, the safe house of my family, for a foreign land.


The worst thing that I have ever done, is pretty much also the same thing.


I have been back home for three months now. Three months of getting used to heat-and-humidity, three months of a new job, three months of recreating a routine, three months of home-cooked food and asian thunderstorms, and three months of living with my parents.

  All of it has been strangely familiar and painfully hard.

 This is something that They forget to tell yoU.


Homecoming can be a lot harder than home-leaving.  When you’ve been away for long enough, it becomes easy to stay away. It becomes easy to worry just for yourself, to manage your space, and your time with yourself, by yourself.


You set up your own routine. You have your own wardrobe space, and your own coffee cups, and your own towels. You complain about laundry, you do it by yourself anyway. You complain about grocery shopping, you do it on your own anyway.

You complain that no one is around to nurse you when you’re ill, you recover anyway.

You complain that it’s too quiet, but you get used to not-talking anyway.

The other things are easy to compromise. Yes, you have to wait to use the bathroom, yes you have to share your wardrobe space, yes you have to put up with the “where are you going, when will you be back” questions.

But this not-talking bit is the hardest to get over.  When you’ve been quiet long enough, it becomes easy to recede into silence.

There are many times when I’ve found it difficult to express my frustration at the changes that I’m experiencing. Words fail me just as I want to say, “No, this is too hard. Why did I ever leave? How am I going to know how to get used to ‘being back’?”


It’s like having an itch that you can’t scratch.


It becomes a sore.


I become a pain.


My parents have been patient. And yet, they are human too. They become baffled by my moody silences and glowering stares.


(Never at them. It’s always at myself, and my inability to settle in, settle down).


My mum loses her temper.


“You don’t talk to us. You’re always so quiet. We’re so happy to have you back, and yet, you…”


The door slams, and it is quiet again.


This silence, I should be familiar with. But this is different.  Loaded with anger and hurt, a dark cloud that settles like heavy smog over the furniture, the bed sheets, our hearts.


I understand everything that she says, and everything that she doesn’t.


I get angry. Again, at myself. But I have forgotten how to communicate.



The next morning, it settles. My silence has made me forget how to apologise. I fumble, I give up.


I need to apologise. So, I set up a Whatsapp group for the family. It is easier to type. It allows for a distance that makes being vulnerable so much easier. I apologise. Several times over. I try to explain my problems to the best that I can. I keep typing, hoping that this would help us communicate better (by us, I mean me).


My parents are patient. They forgive me, with grace. They tell me to have a good day.


And so, it ends. It will probably happen again. They will get angry again. I will get angry again. We’ll have to try to meet somewhere in between. The Whatsapp group will see alot of action.


There will be silence. But in time, it will get smaller. It will get easier. Words will become easier to be said, and to be heard.


It will happen. In time.


Do you have tips for other moms struggling to connect with their young adults? Share them here!


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There are 3 comments

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  1. Rajdeep Paulus

    This is a beautifully, honest piece. Thanks for speaking up about your silence. That takes a lot of courage to admit that you’re thinking through things. So many of us process externally and eat our words for dessert. Never sweet. Continue writing. I think it’s a great outlet for your journey. Best, Raj

  2. Anju (@akg_ebnj)

    something similar is going on my with my son who’s home from being away at college for nearly 5 years with brief visits on holidays! young people forget how to communicate with parents during this time. They seem to feel the pressure after college much more than before even when there isn’t

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