Aakash got up and restlessly paced ASR’s cabin, he sat down with a thump, “Bhai, shaadi sach main barbadi hai, don’t you think?” Suddenly realizing the import of his words, he raised his hands and said embarrassed, “I didn’t mean to say against anybody, but just the institution of marriage is so restricting, it chokes you, suffocates you and makes a perfectly otherwise normal individual behave so out of character that it is difficult to believe it is the same person,” he sighed, “Aap sahi the Bhai, marriage is not workable, hume shaadi karni hi nahi chahiye thi! The amount of compromise, adjustment and living up to expectations that it entails,” he shook his head disgusted, “Unbelievable! I often feel that it is just not worth it!”
Foreboding filled Arnav. “Aakash, kya hua, I have never seen you so upset, I am sure things are not as bad as you think them to be,” he nodded his head and admitted, “We too have had our share of ups and downs, but,” he smiled faintly, reflectively, “Isnt it strange that now I feel that the institution of marriage is worth it!” he shot a speculative look at Aakash and added for good measure, “and we need to do whatever is needed to make it work, especially when kids are involved,” he said quite firmly.
Aakash laughed a hollow laugh, “Oh don’t worry Bhai, I am not planning anything drastic, bas I was just hit by a wave of nostalgia and life seems to have completely changed, and I felt an overwhelming need to vent, I don’t know who else I could speak of this to,” he felt silent, “Sorry Bhai, I didn’t meant to disturb you,” he apologized.
Arnav shook his head and leaned back in his chair, “I am listening.”
Aakash needed no further invitation, he leaned forward, “Bhai is it wrong to love my work? I really do love my work and am happiest while working but then I really have to pay for my pleasure,” he threw up his hands and sighed dejectedly, “As much as I try and broker peace, Ma and Payal just don’t get along, I really don’t know who is wrong and who is right, all I know is that I am forever pacifying either Ma or Payal and often both!”
He paused, “Ma says I don’t care for her, neither does Papa, she is very lonely, she is very unhappy,” he shook his head, “And now she has this ‘idea’ that she wants to run an NGO!” he laughed scornfully, “Some ‘kitty party’ friend of hers apparently runs a successful NGO and Ma must be wanting to put her down,” he said rather cynically, “Tell me Bhai,” he urged ASR, “Is an NGO a toy or a gift that I can give her? She doesn’t have any concrete plan or concept, bas she just wants a readymade charity organization which she can lord over! How is this even possible?”
ASR too shrugged helplessly, he steepled his fingers, leaned back in his chair, and waited for Aakash to continue.
Aakash sighed, “Payal is also impossible,” he shook his head, “I just don’t know what has happened to her, she is constantly nagging me for something or the other and accuses me of having a blinkered vision,” he hesitated briefly, “She even accuses me of deliberately staying late at the office to avoid coming home,” there was a faint flush on Aakash’s face, “These days, Payal’s main grouse is that I don’t spend enough time with my sons, which,” he hastily raised his hand, “let me tell you is so not true! Every weekend that I am home I make sure to spend a couple of hours with them, sometimes I even take them out alone to the beach or something to let Payal get some respite, some free time for herself.”
Arnav looked at his cousin doubtfully, most of Aakash’s rant was Greek to him, he too loved his work and had expanded his business, in fact almost built it up again from scratch after the fire, but he did manage to find some time in the morning for Devansh, in fact he felt quite irritable on minus-D mornings! And Mami and Payal! Well nothing surprising, but did Nani and Khushi too have issues? He wondered to himself, neither had breathed a word in so many years! Was he missing something? ASR caught Aakash gaze fixed rather hopefully and unwavering on his face, clearly expecting reassurance, expert advice, but Arnav felt out of his depth, he suddenly wished Khushi were here, she would have surely said something to ease Aakash’s distress, “Errr…Just…just ignore both Payal and Mami’s complaints, let them sort it out, why drag you in the middle! And Aakash, if you are overloaded with work, maybe you should think of getting an assistant, someone trustworthy like Aman?” he finally came up with his one-fix solution.
Aakash made a face, “I have told them to sort it out themselves but they insist on dragging me into their turf wars,” he said morosely; he shrugged a bit self consciously, “Aapko toh pata hai na Bhai, I like to go over my files and contracts several times before okaying them, perhaps I am a bit slow compared to you, but then I don’t want to act in haste and then repent at leisure, waise bhi weekdays are a very tight with hardly anytime apart from traveling and work!” He paused, “And besides the kids are a handful,” he raised his hands, “Oh don’t get me wrong, I love them! It is just that they are too much, after a long day at the office; especially now that there are two of them and both boys to boot, mornings are also very rushed, toh where is the time? What does she expect me to do? Kam chhod kar ghar beith jaaoon?” he shook his head disgusted, “Bachche toh waise hi bade ho jaate hain, it is all this new fangled notion of spending quality time with your children,” he looked at Arnav, “Aap hi bataiye Bhai, did our parents spend time with us? We took care of each other and just grew up on our own, didn’t we?”
Arnav’s lips twisted, “We had Di.”
Aakash smiled reminiscently and nodded his head, “Yes we had Di,” he hesitated and then carried on in a rush, “But you know Bhai, that is what probably makes it easier for you, Di is no longer staying at Shantivan and so Khushiji gets a free hand,” he shook his head mournfully, “The problem is when there are two bosses at home with little or no work,” he looked Arnav curiously, “But tell me Bhai, honestly, Dadi aur Khushiji main khatpat nahi hoti kya, don’t they come and hassle you about it? Doesn’t it stress you out? Any tips?”
Arnav looked blankly at Aakash; he was saved the bother of having to admit he had no idea what he was talking about by Aman who called to inform that the clients had arrived for the meeting. They got and left, Aakash feeling a bit sheepish at having aired his dirty linen, even if it were his Bhai, apologized, “I am sorry Bhai for offloading on you like this, don’t worry, I am fine,” he looked around and zeroed in at Di’s photo, “I was just hit by nostalgia I guess,” he shrugged embarrassed, Arnav patted his shoulder awkwardly and strode off.
Relieved to be let off the hook, ASR dived into the business of deals, which was infinitely easier than dealing with complex convoluted human emotions, thoughts and expectations.
Ok another how about another discussion? The last one was fun and informative dont you think? A few options to prompt you to think which one you most empathize with but feel free to stray from the options provided.
- Poor Aakash caught between the devil and the deep
- Aakash is the real loser
- Aakash and ASR are not so different after all; it’s Khushi who makes all the difference
- Who cares about Aakash?
Click here for Chapter 222