Where has love gone?

As Aesha tapped her heel restlessly at the Visa Consulate, one might just think of her as yet another young woman who has set her heart on an overseas dream, a future in the greener pastures and she is probably nervous if her visa will be stamped or not as her fate can either be made or broken by this one seal (or the lack of it). But for Aesha , her tumultuous mind couldn’t be tamed today.

While she was at the cusp of an important milestone in her career and getting the visa would mean she inches one step closer to her dream professionally- somewhere she shuddered to think of how it would impact her love life and the very foundation of her marriage.

It seemed like yesterday- Aman and Aesha met at a sangeet and got talking. They hit it instantly and never realized where time flew. They would always chuckle when they got to know later that this had been set up by their parents. 

Aesha was a young, dynamic, super smart, intelligent woman who was a great fan of Sheryl Sandberg and truly believed in women being independent and reaching the top. She was a school topper, a college gold medalist and now worked in a Multinational Bank. 
Aman on the other hand was an average guy who worked with an IT company, he earned an average salary. he dreamt to see the world, loved paneer tikka and swooned over Deepika Padukone.

The fact that Aesha was a go getter and was earning more than him never really bothered him, in fact he thought it worked perfect for them- as he was the relaxed laid back type and in a relationship one had to be the passive one for the boat to sail smoothly especially as they married and had kids.

They tied the knot after 6 months of courtship. Some thought it was hasty and they ought to have taken time to get to know each other but they were certain this is it. They had found their soul mate and they had a lifetime to get to know each other. 

The first 2 years of marriage were absolute bliss. They were crazily in love with each other, the raging hormones wouldn’t let them keep their hands off each other. The sex was fabulous and kept them on a high. Every morning she woke up and lovingly prepared breakfast for them, kept warm milk in the flask for him and kissed him on the forehead before she left for work.

During the day they made it a point to talk on the phone and send messages to each other a couple of times. In the evening she cooked a four course meal and welcomed him with a warm hug and a kiss. Weekends were spent cuddling in bed or watching a movie at the multiplex nearby followed by a cozy dinner at one of the restaurants. They also went on outstation trips frequently and their Facebook and Instagram posts would make any couple envious.

This lasted exactly 2 years 9 months – after which their world came crashing down. And that was when little Anya screamed her lungs out as she came out of Aesha’s womb. They say a child brings the couple closer and makes the relationship stronger, Aesha and Aman would vehemently shake their head if this is told to them. The child unknowingly did everything to create a distance and then created a gaping hole which was impossible to fill.

 Post-Partum depression hit Aesha- the toll of caring for a baby was too much to take. While both sides of parents’ especially the moms stood firmly behind her- the one who she yearned for – her husband took a step behind. He felt he was as new as her to this and with both sets of mom around they were managing the show. So why step in and create chaos. But little did he realize all she needed was a hug, a hand in her hand, an assurance that they shall tide through this together. The first few months passed by in a blur and little Anya settled into a pattern.

Aesha had to rejoin work. Probably the teething troubles they faced should have subsided but no. Aesha had a demanding job and an infant at home. Though Aman’s mother stayed back with them, it did not make life very easy for Aesha. She still had the breakfast to cook, meals to rustle up, household chores to be done and a baby to be taken care of after getting back from work. She had not slept peacefully without any interruption since ages.

The very things which she had ignored in the first few months of marriage made her go crazy with fury now. She had always prided herself on being a super-efficient multi tasker. She never insisted on her hubby helping her in household chores. So the dustbin lay at the door when she entered the house at 7 pm after a daylong of work, the utensils which he had eaten in and she had cooked in – lay strewn all over the sink. She solely undertook all the miscellaneous tasks like paying bills, laundry, ordering groceries. Even things dusting the furniture, cleaning the toilets was all done by her. While it hardly bothered her earlier, she couldn’t control her temper now. It led to frequent fights and resentment kept building. His contention was its no big deal I can share the load but his way of working – more casual relaxed approach was in stark contrast to hers – a systematic well planned and executed in time kind of style.

The fights subsided over time but the resentment in their hearts stayed.
To add to the already building fury, Aesha was facing setbacks at her workplace. After devoting close to a decade to the organization, she had to come to terms with the fact that her growth had hit a roadblock. Was it because of the fact that she was back after a break and being a working mom was no longer considered ultra productive or was it because of the change in management which simply dint work in her favor. Her dissatisfaction was growing day by day. The fact that she was in a niche filed of work with limited opportunities in her city made it worse. Her confidence was dipping day by day when she got a call from a consultant for a promising role in a MNC which was just setting shop in India- the growth potential was exponential. The only catch was it was in a different city and she knew Aman wasn’t looking to move out.

She thought a lot about it and spoke to Aman, she was open about her feelings, her dissatisfaction in the current organization and how it was proving detrimental to her career.

She intended to go and interview for this new role, see what they had to offer her and then take a call. 

He knew her well and also knew that she was unhappy, she loved her job. It gave her a sense of identity and it occupied a vital place in her life. He agreed to her proposal. 

She cleared all the levels of interview and after a few rounds of negotiations, had the offer letter in her mail box. She had always thought this moment would be the toughest and taking a call is something she would never be able to do, but surprisingly she was calm and composed. She knew that she owed this to herself. She couldn’t make a sacrifice here and hope to be happy. Unless she was happy from within, she couldn’t give happiness to others around her. After all the job was in India and they both could always take a 2 hour flight and visit each other. There was no issue of living in different time zones.

Anya was young and she rather do this now than when she grew older. Luckily the new job was in the same town where her parents lived so she would have support in looking after her child.

Rationally, logically, practically it made a lot of sense and emotionally she did feel guilty for going away and taking Anya away from Aman but it wasn’t like they were getting separated. They were just living apart in different cities for some time. They had not defined how long but they would discover the answers with time.What did they call it these days? Living Apart Together- it seemed a trend with many couples.

Aman’s reaction was subdued- no yelling, emotional outbursts, accusations, tears- nothing at all. In hindsight she felt it would have been better if he had vented out. 

So she moved and it became a long distance marriage – to complicate things there was a baby around. No they were not facing marital discord, yes they had the usual tiffs every couple has but separation or divorce was not at all on their minds.

Had love found its way back into their hearts? Had distance made the heart grow fonder? Did their modern day relationship where they met in the virtual world though Face time and Skype survive and thrive or did it falter and fall?
 How about little Anya’s relationship with her father who seldom expressed himself? Would this long distance see a closure or did the seal on the visa today mean their life would change forever?

(To be continued)

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