I look out of the plane window excited like a small child, at the thought of spending two weeks with my beloved kids and my wife.
I earned a pittance, we lived in a one-room kitchen rented house but we were such a close-knit family. Love kept us strong despite the financial difficulties we faced. My wife is a homemaker but together with our two kids we had built a beautiful life.
However, in my field, opportunities were limited in India. Some of my college friends working in the Middle East coaxed me to try there. I knew this was my best option, but the thought of staying apart from my family stopped me.
The kids were in primary school then and were well accustomed to the school and their routine. If I moved my family, the rent of a bigger house, the kids’ education, household expenses would all mount up and the effective savings would be negligible. I discussed this with my wife and she too agreed it made sense if I went alone. She encouraged me to look for a suitable opportunity seriously.
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I found a good opening and everything went well. I had the offer letter in a fortnight and after a month I boarded my flight.
The first few days and months were the most difficult; we spoke on Skype regularly, a few times a day. We cried and laughed and sang and my kids were eager to tell me every small thing that happened in school.
Then gradually we all settled down into our routine. I had a demanding job and I was determined to do my best to get promoted and get a good bonus. I focused all my energy on work; the thought of going back to an empty home scared me. Our chats had become occasional. The kids were busy with their studies and extra classes. I missed my wife too, she had always stood by me and helped me in taking tough decisions. Though we still spoke, I noticed that she seemed aloof. But I was going home now for 2 weeks. Things would change. I would rekindle the emotions, bring back the lost magic, I knew it.
That night as I lay in bed with my wife, I opened up to her. She stunned me with her response: “Look dear, the truth is we all have moved on. The kids missed you terribly at the beginning and I missed having you around too. I longed for the daily ritual of morning tea sitting side-by-side talking about our dreams, our plans for the day, the kids. What a perfect start to the day it was; we pepped up each other to face the not-so-good days and celebrated the good ones. Then we would get busy, me in the household stuff and you at work. But we both looked forward to nights when curled in bed we spoke about how our day had gone, the little victories and the failures, and it felt like such an integral part of life. It felt weird sleeping all by myself. I remember turning and tossing in bed. But slowly I got used to sleeping alone. I occupied myself with other activities so that I wouldn’t miss you. What you did was for the betterment of the family but the truth is your absence has changed our life. No doubt we talk on the phone, Skype, chat but it’s not the same as being together, especially after years of the relationship we shared. Maybe things will change when you move back, but I doubt it will ever be the same. Those memories are what we have to live on and move forward.”
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I refused to believe her and resolved to prove her wrong. But the next few days and my attempts at rekindling the lost moments but failing each time made me realise she was right. As I left for the airport, this time I was the only one weeping.
As I sat in the plane I couldn’t control myself any longer. I went to the lavatory and wept like a child. Can I leave my job and move back? The sad truth is I cannot. Though I know that the longer I stay away, the deeper the chasm will become, I have no choice but to continue doing this. With a heavy heart and eyes brimming with tears I take my seat and look out of the window, except this time I am looking into oblivion.
(As told to Akshata Ram)