As I get up after a leisurely sleep, I smell the faint aroma of filter coffee wafting in from the kitchen. The birds are merrily chirping outside. Gentle sunrays are streaming in from the window. I look out of the window and find the flowers in full bloom. The sky is a pristine azure, with a couple of cirrus clouds lazing about. A flock of parrots is making its way towards the beach nearby. It appears that God is in heaven and all is well with the world.
Having spent thirty five years in the private sector, I had recently taken a voluntary retirement. I wondered if I had really lived life in those thirty five years. Sure enough, it was a useful phase. It brought in not only material gains but also immense learning at all stages. But when did our children grow up and fly out of the nest? Did I get to truly enjoy their company? Did I share their pangs of growth? I wondered if I really spent much quality time with my family!
As to the better half, we have been married for close to thirty three years now. When I look back at those years, I realize the invaluable bond that we have built up between ourselves. The unspoken word often conveys what we want to say to each other. A mere gesture is enough to communicate. Through the crests and the troughs of life, we have sailed together, facing many challenges and pursuing our goals in life. This is not to say that we have not had our share of differences and quarrels. Possibly, that is how life got spiced up at frequent intervals!
Realization dawns that I have so far not cared much for my life partner. Work was always top priority. One was predisposed to bring into the home a lot of emotional baggage – one’s attitude, work habits, frustrations on the job and personality clashes. There was a ready explanation for all the cancelled vacations. As a business executive, one was always used to being waited upon, rather than being kept waiting. It was a birth right to get annoyed at a minor delay in food being served, or in case of any minor aberration in the conduct of domestic affairs.
For a parent teacher meeting to be attended at children’s school, it was clear who would volunteer. Right from caring for aging parents and looking after the needs of all family members, my wife had handled it all. Parties thrown by my friends could never be passed up. However, as to her friends, there was neither any mention nor any trace in all these years. She always ensured that there was never a stock out of tea leaves in the kitchen. If there is ever a MBA course mooted with specialization in multi-tasking, she would surely merit a gold medal!
The initial years were spent in understanding each other. In middle age, family concerns took over. Children’s education, parent’s health, stints abroad to beef up financial resources, creation of a modest assert base and such mundane concerns took centre stage. Eventually, parents passed on to their heavenly abode. Children got married off. Annual visits by them and our grand children are times we both now look forward to.
Sure enough, the past cannot be undone. Perhaps there is an opportunity now to make some amends and to rediscover each other? The future can surely be used to re-bond and to revisit our likes and dislikes. By spending some quality time with each other, we can start realizing the contours of our spirits and our inner beings.
Breaking my reverie, a gentle call emanates from the kitchen. I realize that I am being summoned to pick up the tray containing two steaming cups of coffee and some cookies. The day’s newspapers are already waiting in the front porch. I resolve to give her a surprise the next morning and get up earlier to make the morning coffee. Her happiness would be much more than worth the effort. With this resolution, I troop into the kitchen to do my bidding.
Our spiritual honeymoon has just begun!
Ashok Kumar Bhatia