She had been typical so far. Pretty regular, pretty average. Obedient, dutiful and all those banal things that you were either told or expected of. She had always been a traditional girl. The “Yes” girl. The good girl.
She had felt the necessary amount of guilt all “good” people did. She apologized
reflexively like all “good “people did. She contained herself in most areas
like all “good” people did. Her expression had always been in “apt” areas like
her academics, her work, and her personal life. She had answered to those she
was “answerable” to in all those areas, again like she was expected to. She had
followed rules. Her starring role in her life had been to be obvious and everything expected. But she had never lived.
Hence, she thought, biting down her lip as she contemplated sending the
email she had just typed out…a furtive smile later the email was sent, well on
its way, the third one today. The recipients were different, the message
however was the same. The fourth email, still lay drafted, waiting for its
She felt an arm snake up beside her and chuckled, sliding in herself.
Cuddles were always welcome, even necessary. “Okay” She whispered to him. He
turned sleepy eyes towards her, half smiling “Are you positive?” “As never
Meanwhile, three inboxes across the globe held unread emails, each
rendering a shock value of its own. One was addressed to the law firm she
worked at, a brief resignation letter, one informing a partner that the wedding
ceremony was off, and one to the parents, informing them of the other two
decisions as well as the new fundamental one of moving in with someone until
she decided she wanted to take the next step.
The fourth decision was the first one she never explained to anyone. It
was what she would invest her savings in. It was the story that was most
important to her, that she would never be able to take any slander of. She
would choose to have a child. With or without anyone by her side. That was the
pending email. That was her beginning.
The last week of December is my favorite time of the year. It has been the same even before I came into the corporate world and this week became synonymous with low volumes of work due to holiday season, although it has become one more reason to be happy and glee.
I never went to a convent school, I never really had any close Christian friend and I most certainly did not belong to a westernized family. What's a westernized family you may ask? I believe them to be people largely influenced by Western movies and culture (yes the ones who celebrate Halloween and tomato fests). The point I am making here is that I never had people who understand or share my excitement about this season!
The earliest Christmas memories I have are those of standing in a queue outside the Monginis cake shop to meet a Santa Claus with my father. When I was a kid, we were never over exposed to Santa Claus. There were no malls with Christmas decoration or a man dressed as Santa Claus all month in a corner of the mall. On the 25th of December, Monginis did have a Santa Claus who stood with a huge bag of gifts, and kids stood in line just to shake hands with the Santa and get a pack of gifts. The gifts inside the pack were small things like a scented eraser, a pencil, a color pencil set, a balloon, a Santa Claus mask and a flying fan (the one that you roll between your palms and set free) but the happiness of getting these things from Santa himself was beyond measure. I am partial to Monginis cake shop for this very happy time they gifted me years back!
In the years that followed, I stopped going to Monginis. The gift pack did not excite me anymore. So Santa decided to visit me. Yes, every 25th morning I had a gift hidden somewhere in the house. It almost always was close to the door. A sling bag hanging from the door handle with the lipstick color I loved or a dress that was neatly packed and placed in my cycle basket. I was old enough to know that there was no Santa for real (such heartbreaking truths we come to know!), my mother convinced me that she booked a Santa visit at a gift shop. Every Christmas morning they come over and sing carols and leave behind a gift. I believed it, I truly believed it. I had no way to prove otherwise because I couldn't for the life of me wake up in the wee hours of morning to verify it for myself! And so it continued, until one day Santa forgot to visit. I was disappointed. Later that evening, I found a box of pastries. I knew my Santa was not keeping well and had made up this last moment arrangement. It had been my mom all along.
Before I shifted to Bangalore, all my Christmas mornings were full of excitement about the gift and evenings spent savoring a wine plum cake or chocolate pastry. Of course I did a spiritual dance each time I walked by the streets full of stars and lights. When I moved to Bangalore, my first Christmas week looked gloomy. I had no friends, no family, no job. Just a husband. On my first Christmas here, we went to a mall and it instantly brightened me up. Entire mall decorated in Christmas colors, a Christmas tree and a Santa Claus. This was exactly what I needed to feel happy. While the place I stayed seemed to not know what Christmas was, this mall away from home felt like a heaven of my memories.
The next two Christmas weeks in Bangalore have been nothing but a delight. The work place feels like the happiest place on earth with the reception having a Christmas tree and the decorations, and the work desks having colorful balloons. Secret Santa in office just reveals the child within each of us. How happy we are to find a bar of chocolate on the desk! Finding hidden gifts in a colleague's locker or tucked behind the monitors, going on breaks and coming back expecting your Santa must have kept something on your table, the joy of unwrapping your gift and your colleagues gathering around you to see what you got. I absolutely love this week at work. Since we work for off shore clients, work is usually slow in this week too! All the more reason to be happy. This year I had a Secret Santa who who had a thing for pretty packaging. Each time I saw my gift I lost my heart to the box.
Its not just the gifts that make me so cheerful. Somehow I feel energetic around this time of the year. Even if I have wasted the entire year doing nothing, this week makes me feel like its the best of what the year has offered to me. I haven't gone hungry all year, I have had a roof over my head, I have had a warm bed to sleep each night, I have had people to take care of me when I am down, I have had enough money to buy what I needed, I have had more blessings than mishaps in my year, I have woken up each day with anticipation than despair and that is all that one needs to be happy. I think I finally realize now that you value your parents more and more as you grow older. They have given me so many memories for a festival that was not even the one that we celebrated and it turned out to be the one that makes me happiest even now.
This Christmas I wish more happy memories for children across the globe, more time for adults to spend with their kids, more family bonding than networking. I wish that you have more hope, less Monday morning blues, more time to read, more time to write, more courage to express, more anecdotes to share, more places to travel, more feelings to experience, more reasons to smile, more skills to learn, more friends to make, to more beautiful pictures, more songs to sing, more avenues to explore, more warm hugs to share, more kisses to give, more Sundays to laze, more spirit to run, more energy to work, more health to live a happy life! May your year be a blessed one.
"I tried looking in online and the closest model is around 60k INR but that of a low configuration. The exact model as this is not available with prices online. I will try to look for it in some store in some mall."
"That’s okay. This is nice. I like it."
Mission Accomplished – she thought.
Mission to persuade him that $770 were well spent.
"So does it play songs. How is the sound quality?"
"Ofcourse Papa it does. It’s a $770 machine."
And there it was. Wide happy bubble of moment savaged
"Are you anti-social?" I asked my husband.
"No, why did you ask?" he replied, surprised by this sudden question. We were having dinner at home on a Saturday night.
"You know, couples usually have other couple friends. They hang out and do stuff. We don't visit anyone. Nobody visits us. So I was wondering."
"You don't want anyone to come over" he said.
"It's not like that. I just don't like to clean the house to impress. Also, cooking for so many people is taxing, but otherwise I am social. I don't have friends here but I have in Mumbai. Mumbai would have been a different scene you see. But you have all your childhood friends here." I defended myself. He kept quiet.
"Let's go to S aunty" he suggested.
"Ok, we can go there. Its been a while since we gossiped". We went unannounced, she wasn't at home.
"Shall we go to X?" he asked.
"No, she's always talking of exams and stuff. I get bored."
"Shall we go to Y?" he suggested
"No, I don't like her husband. He boasts a lot. Her mother-in-law grills me all the time, plus her kid is very annoying."
"Shall we got to Z?"
"No, Z is not well so all must be there. 'A' must also be there. I don't like A".
"And you were saying I am anti-social" he had a smug smile.
"So what will we two anti-socials do?" he asked to taunt me further.
"I don't know."
"Let's go watch crime patrol"
"Yes! We have to watch so many episodes" I answered more cheerfully than I intended.
So that's how anti-social, crime patrol addicted couples spend their Sunday evening :P
hesitated before putting up the pre-wedding photograph that said "Save the
date". I was fully aware of the shock waves that would spread through
people who had known me in school and college. Was it too early? You bet! I was
just 22, barely 4 months into the corporate world and all geared up to take the
plunge. Was I wrong? Only time would tell.
As expected, I did get some
comments that made me cringe, "Whoa! That is too soon", "Are you
serious" and even though the congratulatory ones far outnumbered these
kind, I couldn't help feeling a knot in my stomach when I read them. At a time
when my contemporaries were choosing universities for higher education, I was
busy selecting my wedding trousseau. I was out of loop with what was happening
in my friends circle and they were as clueless of my activities. A lot of help
poured in from fellow bloggers who were not just supportive but guided me
through my everyday anxiety. From suggestions about wedding preparation to
giving me pep talk, people I had not even met in real life were helping me sail
through this tumultuous time.
"I don't know what she's
doing, but I will stick with her" was the kind of attitude of people who
loved me dearly. I had never thought I would be doing it so early. Why was I
choosing to do this at 22? For one, I had been in love for a long, long time
with the man I was going to marry. We realised there was no way we could carry
on long distance any more. It was time for him to settle down. Although, I was
not fully prepared to settle right away, I did not see myself marrying anyone
else. It was an everyday battle between what I want and what I need since the
time we made this decision.
Truth be told, I was not aware
what was in store for me in this deal called marriage. I was always skeptical
about marriage. It had to do with the fact that I had been around so many
unhappy marriages, so many pairs who loved each other but could not agree on a single thing and I had known so many unmarried people who never lost an
opportunity to degrade marriage and married ones. I only hoped it wasn't the
case with me. I was brought up in a very different world than what I was
married into. The first month felt like a vacation. I often caught myself
wondering when I would go home. The husband was trying to get to know me for
real. It was awkward between us. Since we had been in long distance all these
years, it took time to figure out living together. We were just not used to
having each other around. Three months of my life after marriage were spent at
home. During the day, I would try to experiment with cooking. Since I had
barely cooked (except for baking!) before marriage, everything was an
experiment! I read or watched TV rest of the day. Some evenings he would come
early and we would go for a walk or drive. Weekends we spent watching movies or
shopping. Even though I was occupied with the changes in my life, there were
nights I terribly missed home and cried while he held me, trying to calm me.
When I got a job, he was ecstatic. It was my first and only interview and I had made it. The office was 28 kms away from
our home. As I neither knew the local language nor did I know the route, he
dropped me all the way to work the first day. He had to come back the same
distance as his office was in the opposite direction. The same day he again
came to pick me up. It was one exhausting day. I somehow figured out coming
back alone the next day (courtesy a colleague). The time for travel through bus
was around 2 hours each way. So every morning, husband dropped me to work for
the next one and half month until I got a shift assigned and a cab to take care
of my travel.
They say the first six months of marriage are
blissful because everything is so new. The passion fizzles out eventually by
the time it’s your first anniversary. "Yours is a new marriage" was
one comment that I kept getting if I did say something that was not true of someone
else's marriage. I secretly wondered if it was true. Was ours going to go the
same way? I did know that novelty wears off in some time. We had been in a
relationship before our marriage and the first six months of our relationship
was the peak of all romance and later we had a one on one with reality. I
worried that it was the same for marriage.
Even after the six months, nothing changed in our
lives. We worked, we laughed, we ate, we travelled, we partied, we watched
movies, we made love, and we dreamt just the same way. In no time we were at
our first anniversary. In a year, we had become inseparable.
The next few months were challenging for me from
work perspective. I worked long hours, often logging in even after coming home.
I worked weekends, I worked on public holidays. I worked every waking
hour. It was all possible because he stood by me. He picked me up sometimes
when I worked on holiday, treating me out or picking some food parcel on the
way because I would be too tired to cook. He let me work when I was struggling
with sinusitis because he understood it was important for me (plus I never take
holidays that I can utilize to travel :P). The work pressure was getting the
better of most people. Some decided to quit. Some colleagues asked me,
"Doesn't your husband say anything?" Someone asked, "How long
have you been married?" and when I said it’s been a year, she replied,
"Oh! That’s why. If it was new, it would be a problem". It got me
thinking. Why should a husband have problem if a wife works extra when her job
requires it? I also wondered how it mattered how old a marriage is. It
definitely hinted at some kind of action they expect during the first year. Do
they think I just go home and open my laptop?
I put my keys in the door as quietly as possible as
to not wake him up. I work in second shift and so it is usually midnight when I
reach home. As soon as I opened the door, I saw a black chair next to my table
and the husband sitting on it with his back towards me. He rotated the chair
with a big smile on his face! He had got me an office chair as a surprise!
Since I was spending so much time working at home, he figured it would be good
if I use an office chair. And here I was wondering all about the irrelevant things
about marriage and work. It was then that I realized how true it was when
someone had written, "The best decision you can make for your career is
who you choose to marry". There is no end to ifs and maybes. I may have
had a better paying job if I had waited it out and gone for higher education. I
may have got married eventually to someone else. Because who am I kidding? I
wouldn't have stayed single all life even if I chose to. But in that moment, I
knew that I was right in marrying the man who was my husband. And I wouldn't
trade that with all the money in this world let alone some snide remarks from
people who don't get it.
We are about to complete 2 years of marriage. Weekdays
just go by in a blur, getting the chores and office work done. Some weekends we plan
and travel and some weekends are simply spent watching crime patrol (Yes! I got
him addicted too). Life has been a bag of surprises with him. It doesn't need
much to surprise me. Sometimes, an unexpected halt in front of my favorite
ice-cream shop, or a couple of novels he picked at airport on his way back home
from a work trip, when he suddenly takes me shoe shopping or him letting me
sleep on his side of bed because I am not feeling well. I still work long hours
some days. I don't do it just for money. I do it sometimes to help others.
Besides, it’s good to buy gifts for family with the extra money you make. Even
if we are busy with work, we make time for each other every day. We never miss
to hug each other when he leaves for work in the morning and when I return at
night, we still message each other at least once in a day. There are a million
ways we are always involved with each other.
"Marrying right after college is like leaving the
party at 8.30" someone posted recently. Not if you are going to another
party that is more happening my love! I thought of commenting but didn't. To
marry or not to marry? That is not the question. Choose what makes you happy.
Why would somebody do that?
What thought is behind this action?
It's something that she's not used to!
A different treatment!
"After you..." and a hand gesture was made for her to go first on the staircase.
A step onto the stairs but a preference was given. Specifically she was asked to step first.
Something that doesn't happen to her everyday.
Not that she has not been with guys earlier and not that she hasn't been given a special treatment before.
But this was something that had never happened.
As small and insignificant this may seem but was not at that moment.
Men tend to have bigger egos than women. This is how they have been made. Women are easy to break but men are tough! It's hard for them to put someone else before them. But here he had her before her.
This might be not new for him but was new to her.
This might be something he does to every girl but no guy had done it yet for her.
"Don't do it. I am not used to such respect", came her reply.
"Don't do something which puts her in special treatment. Don't do something which you won't do forever. Hope such a day never comes", she though in her mind.
This wasn't something on the list of expectations but it's hard to ignore it after making someone habitual of that. It takes time for people to forget about the special things but it happens and happens with a pinch of pain. Funny that people make you used to certain things that they start and when they stop doing that, it's only you misses that being done!