Wednesday, October 20, 2010
It’s not the first time to have experienced this kind of feeling. There have been many such days throughout. May be, the feeling could be different but one uniting thread across all such incidents is the feeling of separation. As I was driving to office after leaving her in school for the first day, mind roamed around all emotionally charged separations that happened in my life. It may not be so interesting to talk about for all of those who stumble upon my blog. I never used to find anything interesting about things that I hadn’t experienced. But, if I don’t write this down right away, I would have missed to record one of the most arousing feelings that I have ever experienced in my life.
I didn’t really find it very difficult to leave home at the age of seven to join the uncles in a nearby small town. The place that I left and the place that I left for were in close proximity. Any day I wanted to meet parents I could have reached their place in an hour. It is still one of the most defining moments of my life. I still regret for having missed the most wonderful relationship with mom so early in life. It created a never bridgeable gap with mom. Mom became like an aunt when aunts became like mom. Dad became like an uncle when uncles became like dad. I did have some lifetime gains by making that move. Could get a little better education! Could get a little better exposure! Could get a little stronger mind to face larger separations more easily later in life! Could get little more people to care about me in addition to the obvious two!
The next separation happened when I had to leave the uncle’s place also to join one of the best higher secondary schools in the area. I had to stay in hostel for the first time though it had been talked about for quite some time. No dad, no mom, no uncles, no aunts... All new faces! New friends! It was a difficult thing to handle. Many boys were crying on the first evening. Somehow the day passed successfully without much tears. The crying episodes started only in the evening. Though many boys were crying and I also felt like crying, I didn’t. At first, it was not the first time for me to have come away from home. This time, I had come away from my second home. Then, 15 years was too late to cry. First few days (rather, evenings) went off in home-sickness. Later, it became so difficult to leave the friends in hostel even during vacations.
Then, I had to leave those friends forever without even taking autographs from them. How many different specimens within the same campus?! Had to deal with all of them differently! Dealing with different specimens differently and going back home at the end of the day was okay. You don’t get to deal with all dimensions of them. But, when you stay in hostel, you are with the same set of people throughout the day and night. All twenty four hours! So much of opportunities to get conflicts and fights! Having gone through all that, when you are about to settle down, you have to leave them. Forever! There is hardly one or two of them who are still in touch. But, that day, when we had to say that “bye”, it wasn’t that easy. Tried to cry, but I failed as it didn’t come naturally!
Then, I had to join the college, one of the most exciting places for everyone that has been there and done that. Unlike the previous place that was one hour away, this place was almost four hours away from home, the second home. It’s not that I didn’t feel like crying this time because of the prior experience. I did feel so. I still remember the late afternoon when I saw off my uncle after the admission in college. I was only thinking that all my new friends would be feeling like me. But, I was surprised to see some of them cry like kids. It was too funny for me to cry at that age though I also felt like doing it. I only felt whereas they did! Again, next few days, especially the evenings were tough. The hostel was on seashore, which made things worse by making the evenings very conducive to get home-sick. The same seashore made the college life more special later. We successfully sailed (sailing on seashore!) through that as well but there was another day to test our emotional intelligence (I know this is not the best word to be used here!).
Which is that? Another farewell day! This was a tougher day than the previous farewell day. There are two reasons. One, these friends stayed with for longer time. Two, this friendship was more matured. It would continue for longer time. Most of them are still in touch. It is also because we studied computer science, got similar jobs and the technology is helping us. This time, I didn’t fail to take autographs, collect phone numbers and addresses. However, leaving some of the lifetime friends was not easy. It was all the more difficult because we had tougher times ahead with more responsibilities to be delivered and promises to be kept single handedly and single mindedly.
Then, what? Studies over! Exams over! Fevers over! I had to get a job. Can’t get any job in places that are one or four hours away! Had to anxiously travel overnight to reach a city called Chennai. In order to start hunting for a job fulltime! All were worried at home, because, for us, who were twelve hours away from Chennai, it was such an adventurous thing to go there alone first time. Because, everyone that visited Chennai used to come back with lots of stories on how Chennai was unsafe for outsiders (I think this is an interesting piece of information for all of those who think Chennai is a safe place for all Tamils). That was how all our movies, TV serials and local magazines had introduced that city to us. In fact, they were not cooked up stories. They were absolutely normal and random incidents to those who lived there. But, for us, who went there first time, they were risks to be managed with mitigation and contingency plans. With not so much of communication facilities as we have today, wrote letters and made landline calls to the uncles there, somehow gathered courage after days of brainstorming as to how to do every minute thing after landing there, and left alone to Chennai in a direct bus with special instructions to the driver. Another memorable evening! All my cousins that were half my age (at that time) saw me off on the eve of a beginning of a new era in my life. What happened after that is miracle. I had no job other than looking for a job. Almost went to every nook and corner of the city in search of a job and memorized the route numbers of almost all important bus routes. Such a mysterious city got demystified in just six months. But, even today, when I land in Chennai, all thoughts that I had about the city before my first landing pass through my mind vaguely. That makes every visit to that place special. In addition, being the capital of and the biggest city in the state, it gets all the focused attention from the government, media and entertainment industry. All our leaders, stars and intellectuals live there. If not all, most! So, it’s very natural to have that kind of an attraction towards such a city.
Then, it became very clear after six months, ‘If what I am looking for is a job in software industry Chennai is not the best place and that place is 350 kilometers away from Chennai and it is outside my state’. Then, I had to travel to Bangalore. This one became all the more scary because I was coming to an unknown place in all senses. Everything was unknown… people, language, food, weather, culture… everything! Today, when I look back, it all looks so funny. I need not have been that scared to come to the place where I have spent more time than in any other place (as of today). Twelve continuous years! I can’t imagine living in any other place with so much comfort. I have more friends here than in any other place. I have more memories about this place than any other place. I lived my life here better than in any other place. When I was on an implementation trip all across the nation in 2001, first ten days I could manage. Eleventh day, I wanted to come back to Bangalore. That was in 2001. Almost a decade later… today… this place means much more to me.
First, there was an IT job in a non-IT company. One and a half years passed in lightning speed with both the eyes focused on an IT job in an IT company. That happened in Blue Chip Computer Consultants Pvt. Ltd. This is where I have spent more time than in any other company. This is where I got more friends than in any other company. This company gave me more than what all other companies gave me (I am not talking in terms of monetary benefits). It gave me a break just with an intention to give me a break. It accepted me as what I was. I traded in my skills for money in all other places later. But there, I got both from the company itself. It's not that I don't get my skills developed in other companies as well, but it started from zero in Blue Chip. All roads lead to Rome. And, all roads that lead to Rome should also end in Rome. Then, you have to take a new road from there. My road with Blue Chip also ended. The last day was emotionally charged in true sense. I was about to (didn’t, this time also) cry when I was shaking hands with all colleagues on the last day, evening again. I have been having similar evenings after that. But, nothing could match that evening. Please check out the last mail that I sent from my Blue Chip email id that evening in the beginning of this blog. That was when I created this blog.
Then, the most exciting thing in any man’s life, the marriage, happened. There have been many sleepless nights discussing and fighting over all silly things under the sun, both before and after marriage. But, what remains as an emotionally charged separation (I know you would laugh at me for calling it a separation!) is the one that we had when I had to go to office after the shortest ever vacation (by the way, in literal sense, that's the longest ever vacation I have enjoyed so far! three weeks and four weekends are not short, right?) in life was over. I knew that there were millions of women that stay at home when their husbands left for work every day. It is not that they can’t stay alone at home or they invariably get into safety problems when they are alone. However, it was so difficult to kick-start the bike that chilly morning although there was nothing wrong with my bike, which was in a fairly good condition.
Post-marriage, all lines were disconnected and got into a shell of my own. I spent all my time with family as all of those who succeeded as well as failed in marriages told that it was very critical for successful marriage. The first time we had to separate was when I saw her off in Cantt railway station to my parents' place just few days before the function to formally send her off from my parents' house to her parents'. I came back home that night and cried like mad. Like never before! I have never been so mad before. Then, after a few days, we met and had the function as planned. After the function, we had to separate for a longer period, that was, about seven months. Though I knew that I would travel 700 kilometers up and down almost every weekend to meet her, that day – that minute was tough to handle. Today, looking back, I laugh at myself for that. Along with other men who laugh at me!
After that, the latest one is what happened today. Until there was a baby, I always missed my wife whenever we got separated however small the period was. After that, every time it happens, I miss my daughter more. I have been going through this for some time now. I know it is too funny, because I have felt the same thing when others were doing this for their children. But, now, I understand the feeling of billions of fathers that have walked the same path. Isn’t it a good feeling?!