Fifteen Years and Counting

February 27, 2013

We went to Goa for our honeymoon. Hard to believe it was fifteen years ago. I remember it because passions ran high in that holiday – and not all in the way you are thinking. Two things stand out. Well, alright, three, but we’ll keep this decent and talk about two. The first was, how angry I was when, as soon as we reached the hotel, Amit went to bed. And went to sleep! When I, his beautiful bride, was moping around alone and extremely impatient.

You see, I’d never seen the sea before. And we were in Goa, so naturally it was a situation I was eager to remedy. Being in bed was not the way, not even on one’s honeymoon. After all, we had all the time in the world to sleep (and other stuff, ahem), but only a few days to spend at the sea. And I love swimming. And did I mention I’d never seen the sea before?

So matrimonial bliss didn’t last very long. As soon as Amit woke up – or perhaps he was woken up by me – matrimonial bliss ended.

Not that there had been too much bliss upto that point. Weddings are tiring business, especially for the prime protagonists. All that dressing up, jewellery and makeup. All that food. All that smiling! Phew! No wonder they invented honeymoons… you really need the time to stop being a smiling beauty and go back to being your own everyday selves.

We finally went to the sea. And then we went for dinner. And as we sat across the table with a strongly coconut-oil-flavoured pork vindaloo between us, I remember thinking, with something akin to dawning horror: what on earth am I supposed to talk about with this guy? It’s just us now. For a long, long time. Ohmygod!

We’d had a long-distance romance. We were neighbours for a while when we were 16. Actually, we were neighbours for a couple of years or so, but by the time we started talking to each other, fate had only a few months of togetherness left in store for us. Then we moved away and maintained a long-distance relationship in the era before email and mobile phones, when mails were sent via the postman and long-distance phone calls were a luxury reserved for birthdays. In a way, viewed with the rose-coloured spectacles of a good, long time, they were good days. I have fairly sweet memories of whispered conversations late at night, with the lights off, everyone else at home snuggling under the sheets, or possibly under blankets, and pretending not to listen.

But a phone call once in a way does in no way prepare you for a lifetime of togetherness. Phone calls maintain a discreet distance. You are spared each other’s bathroom habits and nose-picking – to say nothing of snoring habits and morning faces.

In the long run, it turned out, conversation was mostly not an issue. I had plenty to talk about, Amit didn’t need to do much to fill the silences. Nowadays, especially, it seems that many important agenda topics never get a hearing at all – they are usually drowned out by the clamour of the kids, the chatter of a phonecall, or the clatter of laptop keys. Most days, we do ask each other, how was your day – but for everything else, there’s Facebook.

I guess no marriage is perfect. We’ve had our ups and downs. But all said and done, fifteen years on, we’re still together. Around the time we got married, I worried about what I would do if we ever broke up, if I ever decided to move out. I needed a financial safety net, I decided. So I stashed away some money – when we moved to the US, it was supposed to be enough to buy me a one-way airfare to India. Well, that safety net has been growing and growing and I haven’t used it yet. Let’s hope it survives intact the next 30-odd years as well.

Meanwhile, to celebrate, we both took the day off. We packed the kids off to school, forgot to drop their change of clothes off at daycare, and took the metro to Taj Residency (as it used to be called, Vivanta now) for a long, leisurely, extravagant lunch at the poolside coffeeshop. This was where we spent our first evening in Bangalore, right after Amit picked me up from the airport, fifteen years ago.

This time we weren’t dewey-eyed newly weds, of course, but it was still nice. And I was relieved to find that, even after 15 years, we still haven’t run out of conversation.

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