They were caught in a disagreement again, but she didn’t throw a fit like she once used to. Neither did he raise his voice. It was a quarrel in sync.
Disagreements between them were becoming commonplace now and not surprisingly so, given the number of years they have been yoked to each other’s fate. But they had now matured even in the way they conducted their daily battles.
It’s how relationships sustain over long periods – evolving to heights and devolving to newer spaces, dipping to depths and rising to peaks. Tumult and tranquility alternating, neither one more dominant than the other. The yin and the yang complementing, despite the inconsistencies that at one point threatened their existential connection.
It is one thing to be together and another to be essentially connected. Between the two is a brief space where bonding thrives. It’s an oasis that many miss in their journey through the desert. For long, it had eluded her too.
Those were clamorous times when what is now courteous disagreements were veritable fights and things between them had nearly fallen apart. They had come dangerously close calling it quits. Life scrambled to find a new meaning amidst the listless passage of time. There was, if anything at all, only tedium to endure.
But the universe has unique ways of mending things. Grace, when ardently appealed, comes in abundance to heal and restore. There falls a rain in every parched land, to fill the visible cracks, to revive a dying core.
It’s strange that the magical moment of transition happened to her in a moment of crisis, on a day when he suddenly announced he had quit his job.
‘I have put in my papers. No more employment for me. I am starting on my own,’ he said, triumphantly dumping his high-profile employee ID into the trash bin, as if he had broken free from something that had kept him repressed for long.
The words that echoed his newly acquired sense of freedom froze her. She felt gagged and she stared at him with confusion, looking for answers to the questions she couldn’t immediately voice.
Quitting the job? Relinquishing a stable income? What on this wide earth for? What has come over you?
As the shock passed, she began to rant incoherently, berating his indiscretion, barely allowing him to explain. She had her concerns. The home loan, the children’s education abroad, her own jobless state and their growing age. Start a business? To her, it seemed totally absurd, a juvenile decision to make in the middle age.
‘You must be joking. You can’t set shop in your fifties and become a millionaire in a trice. It takes years to make profits and we seriously don’t have enough to wager all our savings all on a whim. You can’t be so irresponsible and blinded to put our lives at stake,’ she hollered.
He saw her seething, trembling as she does when sudden panic strikes her. But he had come prepared to deliver his defense and patiently waited for her to finish. She wasn’t wrong, he knew. It was just that she didn’t see it as he saw.
He carefully picked his words when she sobered down, as she always did after an outburst. Her arguments and concerns were genuine in her view, he knew. And his priorities were just as valid too.
‘I have, for the longest time, wanted to be my own boss at work. I want to create my own things, and be in charge. I want to be accountable for my efforts, be the sole proprietor of its rewards. I have often shared these thoughts with you, but you failed to see my ambition. From where I stand, it is the only way forward for me. From where you are, it is a grave mistake to make, perhaps. It has always been so between us. We stand on two sides of the fence, facing each other and looking at different things. We don’t have the same frames of reference in most matters. It’s just the way we view things. It doesn’t make either of us wrong. I want you to understand this, at least now.’
She sank into the chair, dug her face deep into the palm, and inhaled deeply. She thought of his long-cherished dreams and his frequent references to it. She didn’t subscribe to them, but that didn’t give her the right to manipulate him. Her concerns couldn’t be foisted on him. He had a right to set his goals and pursue them.
She closed her eyes and spent a few moments in contemplation. Then, sparked by a sudden turnaround in perception, she looked up and said, slowly, stressing the words for effect. ‘So, you quit your job to become an entrepreneur. Right?’
He nodded. She nodded back in response.
‘All right. Just because I don’t recognize the rationale or rightness in it, I can’t say you are wrong, can I? I think I am getting it.’
Saying this, she fixed her eyes at a distance and asked, ‘what do you see out there?’
He turned his glance towards where she looked and said, ‘scattered clouds.’
‘I see the blue sky,’ she said and gave out a little laugh.