In September, I came to stay with my mother for two weeks in small-town Kerala. It may be two years soon, if the pandemic does not leave us any better. In this house, I have a room of my own, painted green, a colour I loved as a seventeen-year-old.
To my mother, I am still a rebellious teenager, not a thirty-something adult repelled by green walls. We do not get along. We are too alike. I say frequently that she is too naïve and selfless. My unfettered Mumbai life is met with rules. I want a house where the curtains can stay shut and meals can be skipped. I cannot seem to make her understand that some days, my mind has spiralled into a dark place and I’d rather stay inside.
Instead, I say “The plastic sheet on the dining table looks tacky” and remove it.
She says I am grumpy. She warns me about ‘shady places’ when I go out with a friend and follows up with “When will you be back home?” When a retired uncle jokes that he and I are ‘jobless people’, my mother laughs the loudest. Many nights, I cry in my room.
My husband finds it funny that I seek validation at this age.
I don’t, I tell him.
But later, watching the Korean dramas I love, I realise that I do. I relish the parent, employer, or friend saying “proud of you” to the main character. I find the freedom I long for in these Korean women—new apartments, late nights, and work lunches. I await the familiar tropes—rich heirs, love triangles, childhood friends-turned-lovers, trips, and one-room-only hijinks that will all occur over 16-20 episodes. Redemptive arc for villains and happy endings for minor characters? Yes please.
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I came to Kerala on an impulse, for a short break. The lease on...