Richa ran to the counter to pick her boarding pass. She knew she was very late for her flight. She did not want to miss this flight. Though it was planned in the last minute, her boss would shout at her if she missed the flight. Fortunately, she came at the right time. The flight attendant called her name thrice already. She rushed into the flight in the last minute just as they decided to close the gates and get the plane ready for take off.
Richa thanked God for letting her reach the airport in time. She prayed to God let everything go well in the next couple of days. This trip was crucial for her. Staying away from her kids during their exams was a difficult thing for her. She decided to go because her boss promised a promotion if she clinched this deal.
As she reached for her seat, she was pleasantly surprised to see her college friend, Asha. Richa said, “What a coincidence? It’s been like ten years. You look the same, Asha. I feel so happy I got to meet you.”
Asha was also happy to meet her friend after so many years. They started talking about those glorious old college days and they felt nostalgic about that age without any freedom. Asha said, “Life was so good, then. It’s better now. But, I don’t get time to enjoy life the way I used to then.”
Richa asked, “Are you married? How many kids? I know family can make you really busy.”
Asha stopped smiling. She said, “I was almost married once. Then, I had to take care of my father’s business. So, I gave up the idea of marrying again. The business is my family now. What about you? You look like you are married. How many kids? How is married life?”
Richa wanted to make things easier for her. Richa always needed someone to share her problems all these years. She could not share with her mother or her siblings as they always told her that she was wrong. Richa finally found an ear. She decided to open up to her old friend.
Richa said, “If I get started, it’ll take some time. Do you really want to listen to my story?”
Asha said, “Sure. I have all the time for the next two hours. My iPod battery is dead. So, I cannot listen to music. It’s better I talk to you and listen to your story. I remember the way I used to listen to your love escapades with Rahul.”
They laughed aloud when they got reminded of Rahul.
Richa started, “Let me start it from my wedding. I got married eight years ago. Shankar is a busy man who is doing well with his job and he is earning pretty well. He was a good man to begin with. We had our first kid after one year of marriage.”
Asha interrupted her and said, “You’re always in a hurry. You always loved kids. I could guess that much. I’m glad you waited for an year. I always wondered you would have a kid out of wedlock.”
Richa laughed and continued, “And within two years, we had another kid. Rahul is the elder one. And, trust me, that name has nothing to do with the Rahul guy at college. Shriya is the naughty younger one. She is the noisiest and talkative kid you’ll ever get to meet.”
Asha said, “I think she gets it from you.”
Richa continued, “Things were pretty alright for the first four years. Suddenly, Shankar started becoming so irresponsible. I understand that he started his own business and it has become successful and he has too many responsibilities. That does not mean that he can completely neglect the family. Over the years, things have worsened. Initially, he had this fear of establishment. After setting up the company, he needed time to find funding for his project. Slowly and steadily, he had some or the other reason. I know that his efforts have helped the company and it is one of the most successful startup companies. You must have heard about CrystalClear.com. It’s his company.”
Asha was surprised. She said, “Hey come on. I saw your husband in a TV interview too. I never knew you were the reason behind his success.”
Richa said, “He attributes his success to me. But, that does not help. I also have a career. He has asked me to quit earlier. But, you know how tricky running a business. Isn’t it better if one of us is in a stable paying job? I’m too frightened of these business ventures.”
Asha warned her, “You are forgetting the fact that you are talking a businesswoman. I have taken over my father’s business. I have let it go on successfully without any problem till now.”
Richa said, “All you business people talk the same lingo. He is so lost in his business. Trust me. I’m tired of this relationship. Sometimes, I want to tell him to stop chasing those dreams and relax a bit. I know that I have been instrumental in encouraging him to make it big in the corporate world. That should not be at the expense of family life.”
Asha said, “I know you hate it when people interrupt your flow. But, if you remember your first fight with Rahul. He wanted to spend time with you. But, you wanted him to play the football match and win the tournament. You fought with him badly and did not talk to him for one week. He finally had to accept and go to Mumbai to play in the match. Fortunately, he won the match. Do you remember the words that you told to motivate him? Now, I see a different you. You have changed completely.”
Richa said, “Things change when you have kids. They are such a responsibility. Everything in your life changes. And, it is not just about the responsibility. It’s also about the love. Did I tell you? The last time he expressed love to me was on our wedding anniversary and it all was so mechanical. He spent a couple of hours with me. He had to rush again as they had a major product update release that evening. He bluffed saying that the company’s reputation was dependent on the update they were about to release.”
Asha asked, “September 10th is your wedding anniversary, right?”
Richa asked, “How did you know? I never invited you for my wedding because I did not have your contact details.”
Asha smiled and said, “I remember the day when your husband’s company was under so much trouble. All of us waited for the updates. It was like a case study for all us. We thought that only a miracle could save his company. And, your husband did it. The product update they rolled out that evening changed the face of that company. I know more about it because one of my friends is an investor and he was there with me that evening and he was worried about that update. He felt he would incur losses if the update failed to impress people. And, more than impressing people, it actually delighted customers across the globe. Your husband’s work really paid off. It was all across the news. Did you not check out the newspaper that week or the next day?”
Richa felt embarrassed. She said, “I was so angry on him. I sulked for a week or two. I took my kids and went to my parents house for the next one week. He sent me a message asking me to check news channels. But, I thought he was boasting as always. I did not know that so much was at stake.”
Asha said, “Let me tell you something. Sometimes, you don’t words to express love. In your case, your husband was trying his best to have that balance. In my case, my fiance was always lovey dovey with me and I believed him. I did not know he was faking it all until I caught him red handed with another girl. He was two timing. It was as though he loved me like anything. But, he managed both of us at the same time. He was lying always. Your husband, from the little that I have heard from you, seems to be telling you the truth always. But, you are lost in your own world of ego. I remember how you used to let your ego destroy your relationships earlier, too. Please change at least now. Respect the man who truly loves you.”
Richa did not say anything. She and Asha did not talk for the rest of the trip.
After a week, Richa called up Asha and said, “Hey, sorry for my reaction. And, thanks for the words. I’m learning better about my husband now. I cancelled that trip and traveled back to check on my husband. He was taking care of my kids and he was trying his best to juggle with his goals. I have been a moron all this while. Thanks for the advise.”