It was the turn of the century when I decided that I needed to do something bold and launch myself professionally. I could not amble along as I’d been doing. My wife and child would have a break at her parents’ place and I needed to plunge into newer fields of work in Kolkata.
The plunge happened. I started doing what I could to re-establish myself in a city that I had left six years back. Then, inevitably, my wife and I started missing each other. We spoke much more in those days of forced separation than in the last year of togetherness. Our conversations got longer and funnier as she related naughty tales of the kid and I told her what was happening in my world.
A couple of months later, I travelled to meet her and do a bit of business in a nearby town. She commented it was the best I’d looked in a long while. Wow! Unexpected compliment!! Men are not used to such compliments and don’t fish for them. We had a most interesting reunion in those few days leading up to the new year.
It strengthened my resolve to do better and bigger work. The ego boost propelled me to better stuff at work and to bring the family back as early as possible.
A few years later I moved to Pune from Kolkata. This time it was a wee bit different. My wife was very well settled in Kolkata and working for a good brand in the film exhibition business. She was respected in her company and was being called to different locations to set up projects. No one would want to leave such positions easily. I didn’t try to move the family. Also, for many days, we did not speak to each other as we were very busy. Then, loneliness crept in. It had to.
I started to try and find hobbies and people just to cut the loneliness. I made friends, had dinners, went out for movies and generally tried to have a good time. But the void never went away.
My wife, on the other hand, was generally happy with the kid and the extended family that she had in Kolkata. She had made other friends and her intermittent conversations were filled with what was happening there. The fun she was having and how she intended to keep things that way. I knew the void was getting bigger at my end, probably.
The respite was a quick-fire holiday for the whole family, including my brother, when my project opened. Everyone arrived. I showed them around. My project happened to be an Indoor Amusement Park and other places around town. The holiday was arranged to precisely bring back the relationship to an even keel. I could now freely talk to her about the idea of a move.
The conversations over the next months and beyond the new year centred around her move. She used to get distressed, but we knew it was inevitable.
The void disappeared slowly over the next few months after my family joined me. I did some of my best work after she arrived in Pune. It kind of set me up for a big future as a Business Leader. It was a huge sacrifice from her end and that humbled me forever, despite the intermittent bickering we had on the subject in the next few years.
Many years later, I’m a Management Consultant doing work for companies looking to get into hospitality or retail businesses. I hear from a friend that a company in Kolkata needs someone to lead their business ramp-up and so off I go. My wife is busy with her life in sports, teaching and her own friends’ circle. She is clear that she will not move anywhere at all. Our daughter is in 12th grade and there are no choices at all. I must be a lone rider once again.
So, here I am, working out of Kolkata.
We are much older. We can laugh about our youth and those separations.
But, the conversations are still endearing when we get on the phone in the evenings, after work. We both know Kolkata well. She can relate to my miseries off and on.
We still talk about getting back together in Bangalore. When we can. After all, a home is where the heart is.