Many moons ago, we sat with our morning tea. It’s a ritual, you know. Tea, biscuits and conversation about the oncoming day. The schedules, the people and the occasional argument about money, bills, or both.
She said, “It’s been a long since we had a holiday. We should. It’s high time.”
Automatically, my first worry was about the empty purse that I had seen the previous night. The bank statement, too, had not been very encouraging. I used to quip to fellow sufferers that I worked for my company, SBI, LIC and HDFC Housing Finance. Not for myself. This worry led me to a practical take on the whole situation.
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“Listen, I am not going to get a holiday in a hurry. Why don’t you go somewhere? Maybe to a relative’s place or something?” I asked.
She looked at me as if I was joking, saw my earnest expression and then realised that I was probably speaking the truth and I meant what I said.
“Where would I go?” she asked.
“Anywhere, but in India, that can be reached by train or something.” I was on a roll.
“Can I take Kiddo with me?” I knew this would come up.
That was her first vacation, in the Garhwal hills. From then on, she went alone for many more vacations. These became all-women trips. Then they graduated to adventure trips in larger groups. She started some group hobbies – sports, marathons and the like. Those were completely different from what I do, or at least, love doing. She acquired a set of new friends whom she spoke about now and then but I barely knew.
In return, I started to do my own things. More movies, more Litfests, more travel for work and friends from various walks of life – artists, entertainers, researchers. She had no interest in any of them.
We were happy. There was never any urge to mix the different worlds and host a party at home. I knew it would be odd.
She had men friends who were muscular. I had lady friends who wore large bindis. If anything, there would be sparks of the wrong kind!
One day we decided to talk about this. It wasn’t exactly a decision, it just sort of came about.
“Let’s count our common friends,” she said. I hemmed and hawed. It came down to three couples.
“This bad?” I murmured. And then we broke into laughter. It was a kind of catharsis, that laughter. I tried reasoning that usually ‘best friends’ are only two to three couples, not more. But yeah, it was pathetic that I didn’t even know her friends well. Happily, I noted that she was even worse.
We stopped laughing. This was space. Unknowingly, we had hit upon the process and we had come to a stage where we had two very independent lives under one roof. Happy. Calm. Understanding.
I told her that. It became a kind of a by-line to all of our conversations, arguments or messages in the ensuing years.
“Aren’t you lucky to have a spouse who’s not in your hair?”
Of course, there have been moments when one ground one’s teeth at the non-availability of the other. Sometimes, relatives raised quizzical eyebrows about solo appearances or appearances at different times. But overall, it is smooth sailing.
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Do we recommend such a lifestyle to others? Well, you could try. But don’t blame us if it does not work for you.
Things like this are based on absolute trust and faith. No less.
Oh yeah, and lots of love.
Plus, basic respect for each other. So, there’s a lot of hard work for years towards a good and functioning marriage before one can even start in such a direction.
There will be no axe to grind and no stones to throw.
As I said, you need to be happy, calm and understanding!