Companionship makes this short journey called Life beautiful!
Faqt Char Din Ki Zindagi Hai Yeh, Mere Humdum
Kisi Ko Saath Le Lena, Kisi Ke Saath Chal Dena
– Nida Fazli, Urdu Poet, 1938 ~ 2016
Today is my wedding anniversary with Vaani! 27 years may seem like a long time. But for Vaani and me, it is not.
|Vaani & AVIS: 1988|
For us, since we met in October 1987, these 28+ years of knowing each other and 27 years of living together, have always been a ‘happening’ time. It is always in the present continuous. The first meeting, the first date, the first gift, the first touch…none of these is an event of the past or a distant memory…everything seems like it is still happening to us. And that, I believe, is an incredible blessing!
Indeed, finding love in Life is a blessing. Loving someone is not about marrying that person. It is not about providing and protecting. It is about a special friendship. It is about being there, no matter what happens. In the initial years of knowing each other, when Vaani and I were much younger, our physical presence with each other surely mattered a lot. We have kissed each other on public transport and have waited long spells for the other to join at meal times. I remember on my first overseas trip, to Tokyo in 1991, in an era when there was no WhatsApp or Facebook, I wept like a baby while calling Vaani over phone; I was missing her a lot. With the years going by, I am delighted to share, that intensity of longing and belonging has not diminished even a wee bit. Yet, we seem to have transcended the physicality of our relationship. We have blended, and remain, as soul-mates.
|Vaani & AVIS: 2008|
To be sure, the past decade has been tumultuous for us as a family and as a couple. Everything material has been taken away from us – work, business, money, gadgets, cars, gold jewelery, investments, insurance….everything that we once owned has gone away. We haven’t even been able to buy each other anniversary gifts – something that’s considered normal and customary – these past few years, and this year too, because we can’t afford them! Yet, despite the excruciating circumstances of a painful bankruptcy, between spells of pennilessness and those few times of finding some work, or money, to keep our nose above water, we have learnt to count on each other’s strength. That strength, to me, is the key to our special friendship, to our companionship.
Labels such as spouse are restrictive – there’s an unnecessary social and legal context that they bring along. Companionship requires no approval or consent. To me Vaani is my best friend. Someone who, I know, will be there no matter what I do or how I look. And I am sure Vaani feels for me the same way too. Even so, it is not as if we don’t disagree or critique each other. We do. I have taken liberties with her – thrown stuff around the house in bouts of frustration or have sulked at times when I have not been able to solve or address the problems that we are faced with. But Vaani’s style of leadership has been very empowering. She has always given me the time and space to sort myself out. I am a year+ younger than she is, but she treats me like an equal. And that’s what good friendship is all about, isn’t it? We have followed a simple, unstated, principle all these years: we never tell each other ‘I told you so!’Which is, we may differ on approaches and views, but when we move forward, we are together in it. We don’t display any one-upmanship or indulge in blame games. That’s how we have been able to face what Life has thrown at us, that’s how we have hung on to each other on this incredible roller-coaster that we are on (much of it is chronicled in my Book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’/Westland, 2014; and in this film ‘Rise In Love’).
|Vaani & AVIS: 2011|
When I see so many relationships struggling around us, I feel that people are missing the companionship, that once was, between them. People drift apart from each other after falling in love and getting married because they have this tendency to subconsciously compartmentalize their lives – one part that was before the marriage and the other part that is after the marriage. So, in essence, the event of a marriage places a full stop; it pronounces the end of one phase of the relationship and begins another. This full stop is totally unnecessary. The truth about Life is that everything new, over time, will start seeming and feeling old. In the upheavals of everyday Life, therefore, romance does receive lower priority because the courtship is over, the marriage is done, dusted – and in some cases, sadly, dead too. That’s precisely why people who fall in love, fall out of love too. But what if you were to imagine that the marriage never took place? Won’t the loving be continuous then? That’s the way Vaani and I treat our Life – we married to fulfil social requirements, period. But we never see our marriage as a defining, epochal event. So, our companionship thrives; so, our loving is ongoing, it is flowing.
The key to great companionship is to never let marriage take the center stage. Treat marriage, if at all you must marry, like just another date in your courtship calendar. Then the journey together, no matter what the circumstances you both are faced with, will be a continuous, never-ending celebration!