THE YOUNG MAN – A SEARCH
“Come on in” I said as I led him into the living room. I introduced my wife who had just come in from the kitchen. He got up from the sofa and greeted her with folded arms and said “Namaskaram madam, it’s a pleasure meeting you”.
She said “Please feel comfortable. I shall get you coffee and something to eat; after that you may continue your conversation. I have some work to attend to. Anyway I make sure I am never present when he talks for he is more comfortable that way, after all I have listened to him for more than three decades now” and she laughed.
After my wife had left he turned to me and said “Sir, how has it been possible to retain that freshness in a relationship after so many years of staying together? When I walked in I could feel the tranquillity within these walls. How does it happen?”
For the first time I had an inkling of what was troubling him. I asked “You are married, aren’t you?”
“I was, Sir. But we split a few years ago.”
“Can I ask why?” I said.
“I knew my wife from our college days and we married after settling down in our respective professions. The marriage in fact took place with the consent of both the parents. But it took only a few years of married life to realize that we were not compatible and so decided to part ways. There was no bitterness in the entire process as we felt that we were better off this way. It is when I see people of your generation that I wonder how it has been possible to stay together for such a long time. I am sure that on the way you must have made a lot of compromises.”
“I do not like the word ‘compromise’. It sounds like a truce between two warring parties. That is not the case; it is only the level of acceptance in a relationship that is a true indicator of its strength and determines its longevity. We have accepted and respected each other’s space and worked together for the welfare of the children and that’s how the family stays as a family. Compromise really does not work for like truce it is a temporary call to end hostilities. It could breakdown any moment. I am sorry that your marriage did not work. I am sure that you would have asked yourself ‘why’ many times. You know the answers best”.
“I did sir. Like I told you earlier when we met at the club I have always been an achiever and had taken it for granted that I could never make a mistake. It was when my marriage did not work that it dawned on me that I was also susceptible to mistakes. But I could not understand one thing that despite having known her for such a long time before marriage why it did not work out. Now I do not really blame her for it. I think we were not ready for the level of commitment that was called for in a marriage. There has been no bitterness though”.
“I can understand your sense of unease, but is that all for I felt that there is something else that is bothering you?”
“You are right. Six months ago a close friend of mine died in an accident. It was all so sudden that I was pushed out of the cocoon I was in. Within the space of one year I was confronted with a failed relationship and the uncertainty in what I otherwise thought was a wonderful life I had built for myself. Since then I have been haunted by this sense of unease. I do spend time at the club, visit friends and try to lead a normal life. It has also become a habit watching other people and how they handled themselves. That is when I saw you and your friends getting together and spending time. You particularly interested me for there was something peaceful and contented in your look. You remember I told you that thirty years hence I would like to be where you are now. Now as I sit here in your house my statement has been fully validated; the tranquillity here and the way you and your wife interact”.
I smiled and replied “You still have a whole lifetime ahead of you. I wish that you sort out your problems fast, rebuild relationships and redefine your goals. What you are going through now is a transition phase and it was necessary for whatever has taken place to happen, to take you to a more meaningful life. Greater understanding leads to greater levels of acceptance, which in turn leads to the gradual diminishing of the ego to humility and ultimately to peace. That’s what you are searching for isn’t it?”
“Thank you sir, it’s been comforting talking to you. If it is not too much of an intrusion can I drop in once in awhile to talk to you?”
I said “You are most welcome, but do give a call to ensure I am at home.”
He left soon after. As I watched him get into his car and drive away I was reminded of my own self thirty five years ago when such questions on relationships and the uncertainty in our lives had also haunted me. But I had found answers for myself. I was sure that the young man would also find his.