The heart grows fonder


Distance makes the heart grow fonder, goes the old saying. But if one saw lovers today, tapping away on their mobile phones, video calling and constantly staying in touch via social media, you wouldn’t think this old saying stood a chance. But all is not lost for the believers yet, and proving them right is a quirky couple from the research world who are hop-skip-jumping cities to keep their flame burning bright.

Arijit Guha Mazumder and Lopa Lahiri met each other at Jadavpur University more than 18 years ago. It wasn’t love at first sight, though Arijit was quite taken by Lopa’s commitment to her education. “She was one of the most studious girls of the class. It was very clear that she wanted to do well in life. Even though I was dating someone at that time, I couldn’t help admire Lopa’s magnanimity with her notes and the intellectual banter we shared. She was such a no nonsense girl, it was hard to see her as a girlfriend, but our friendship grew and Jadavpur became the place where I met my wife,” says Arijit who currently works in one of the largest snack companies of the world.

A healthy marriage, great jobs and a child together; Arijit and Lopa kept crossing things off their wish list. But a point came when moving individually became crucial in their professional journey. The family had moved to Bangalore from Gurgaon as Arijit had joined a new company. Lopa had also taken up a new job and joined him there. But she soon realised she didn’t want to hang around in a job she wasn’t enjoying. Getting a call from the R&D department of one of the top global fizzy drink brands meant Lopa moved back to Gurgaon, this time sans family. “It was painful to see her go but I pushed her towards her dream job. It was really simple; staying together was important but not at the cost of happiness. We eventually got used to it – we met once in two months and it was amazing to see her grow as an individual, setting up her home and making strides at the workplace. She even stopped being afraid of the dark,” says Arijit.

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The couple continued like this for a few years until Arijit chose to move to Singapore for a new job. “We thought a lot about what to do, as we were happily settled. But we didn’t want to overthink it so we took it one step at a time. As I have been working for 18 years, we both knew I wouldn’t move countries without a job,” explains Lopa.

They enjoyed their lone time and also realised it changed the 18-year-old marriage in a good way. “I have learnt to cook and I read way more now. And I have become a fitness freak, sometimes running for two hours,” says Arijit. “These changes have been possible only because Lopa is rock solid in her support. She takes care of both our parents, raises our son and does fabulously at work. The only thing distance does is make me fonder of her,” the 46-year-old adds.

Of course, it is hard work running two households, frequently wishing you were with your family.

But it was clear to this couple that if they clipped their wings of ambition, they would be miserable. Love wouldn’t grow if either had to be pulled down to accommodate the other’s place in the sun. Once that became clear, so did their decisions.

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Arijit is currently based in Mumbai and travels almost every weekend to Gurgaon. “He adjusts to changes well and at least one person in the relationship should. More importantly, he respects my work as much as his own. When people face situations like ours, they tend to think emotionally and the uncertainty of the future rattles them, spoiling their equations for good.”

“The trick is to take some time out to analyse what is important and what is just a surface gain.”

“Patience and understanding the other person goes a long way,” says Lopa, adding, “But he is very careless about his food habits. I can’t stop worrying about that.”

Their teamwork inspires family and friends and goes on to prove the old saying. Physical distances are easy to cover but it is the heart and mind that should never grow distant. And as the couple laughingly agree, technology definitely helps the love stay alive and kicking.

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