(As told to Shahnaaz Khan)
What makes life worth living? What’s the secret ingredient in our ever churning cosmos that makes us, inhabiting a tiny planet along the edges of one galaxy, feel important? For me, it’s passion. In love, in work, in joy or in pain. I live every moment, experiencing it deeply and singularly. The return doesn’t matter, give it everything. So when you leave this world, there are no regrets, only cherished times. And I try to bring this zeal to every aspect of life. But sometimes reality gets in the way.
I’ve been married three months now. My husband and I met at work. I am Kashmiri and he is Punjabi. We started as colleagues, moving to friendship which turned to mutual love and respect. His family considered us made for each other. My family took a little convincing. In the end, our love story seemed picture perfect. We decided that working in the same organisation may not be a good idea, even though I truly loved my job. But my husband encouraged me to move to a better paying job at a startup company, unmindful of the risks involved.
Things at my new job changed after my marriage. My boss seemed unable to manage the pressures of a startup and my absence due to my wedding made it worse. I adjusted as much as I could, till one day things got out of control. I had given my all to the organisation, so when I finally decided to speak up, it was the end. I handed in my resignation letter the same day.
Initially life continued as before. My husband was very understanding and caring. But after three weeks his behaviour changed.
While I understood the financial stress my decision caused, I also saw this break as an opportunity to finally pursue my dream to become a writer.
I didn’t know how yet, but I knew this was the moment. My husband thought differently. For him, me working and earning seemed more important than just following a passion with no direction. I needed time to clear the way. But we needed money to ensure I could walk in the first place.
So we went from our honeymoon phase to the money talks stage without any intervening gap. What once were happy evenings of him coming home, us chatting over dinner, playing games and sharing our day, became silent moments of him checking my LinkedIn and me waiting for a few kind words of companionship. And we lost our ability to communicate. Both suffocating behind the walls of our wishes and guilt. Till one day when I could take it no more, I asked him why he was behaving so, knowing what I was going through. And he just said, “You aren’t the only one with problems.”
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How simple words change everything! I hadn’t shared my professional setback with family or friends. And I wasn’t looking for sympathy from a world that couldn’t care less. I also know my life problems paled when compared to what many go through on a daily basis. But I needed a few kind words from the man I married.
I’m not the centre of the universe. But I wanted to matter to the man who was the centre of my world.
I wanted him to understand my desire to follow my passion and not just blindly go along in the rat race. Believe in me to fulfill my dreams even if they were taking time. Perhaps it was too much to ask.
After all, who has the time to run behind empty wishes when survival breathes down your neck. Love conquers all, but money can conquer love sometimes. I don’t question my husband’s love for me. He just has a different perspective on life. I realised how deeply connected emotional dependence is to financial independence. Today, I’m on the brink of a new job, negotiated by my husband. With my career back on track, it seems my marriage is too.
What about my passion? It may have to wait in the face of love. Adversities come in many shapes and forms. What was a professional setback actually opened my eyes to the struggles of marriage. It is a bumpy ride, indeed, but the flow of cash definitely helps with smooth sailing. Life moves on. The starry eyes and a rosy horizon seem distant. Only love remains. And I hope next time, it conquers all.