Last evening, I attended a wedding reception in a swanky hotel in Juhu. It was a grand affair. The bride, Barkha*, was my student, some years ago. The groom looked smart and, with Barkha, made a lovely pair. As soon as the newly-wed couple landed on the stage, the photographer got into action: he went on clicking some special pictures of the gorgeous-looking couple. At least in twenty different poses, he shot them. My wife and I watched, from our seats, this special moment of the couple, in delight… and, we could feel the magic… the romance in the air. The cool breeze and the buzzing of the restless waves made the ambiance dreamy… Nostalgic!
Barkha was a head-strong girl and always wanted to join an airline. She was fascinated by the front-office job and went about doing her training in Travel and Tourism; eventually, she joined an airline of her choice. She was also a good communicator; and, on week ends, she taught in a reputed Travel and Tourism institute. When our turn came to greet the couple, Barkha’s father proudly told his son-in-law, “It is this gentleman who had totally changed my daughter.” And, before I could hide somewhere there on that glittering stage, Barkha added in all her excitement, “Sir taught me how to be passionate and committed in whatever I take up in life.” Half-a-dozen guests on the stage heard this; I almost went cold in shyness!
I might have contributed to Barkha’s growth; yes. But, I am yet to learn, myself, the art of receiving a genuine compliment. Well, I felt good about myself, despite my discomfort. We left the stage wishing the lovely couple the best of married life…
“Dear, you need to pour the same passion… the same commitment here, too,” I told Barkha in my mind. “The best comes only when you give your best.”
I heard the gentle breeze reminding me to add, “Both need to!”
The food was sumptuous. I really feasted on it. And, as I was pampering myself with some awesome deserts, I heard from behind an enthusiastic voice: “Hi sir, how are you? Many, many years!” It was Neha*. Yes, it was a long time… Ten years, to be precise.
Just a few buildings away from that venue stood another seaside hotel, even more luxurious. My wife and I had attended Neha’s wedding reception, and it was an out-of-the-world experience for us, that night. The groom, an NRI, hailed from a very rich and sophisticated family… and, they made a very pretty couple. I remembered wishing the same way Neha and her handsome Prince and returning home, that night, feeling extremely happy for them.
“Hi Neha, a pleasant surprise,” I said. “In fact, we were just thinking about you… We still remember your grand wedding reception just a few steps from here.” Before Neha could respond, I also added, “Alone? Where is your handsome Prince, Neha?”
I was not prepared to handle what was to come. Neha’s face suddenly sank. “No sir, it didn’t work.”
I, once again, went cold. This time, for a different reason.
“What?” my wife held Neha’s hand, “What happened?”
It was a beautiful ambiance… A heavenly-looking couple was all set to take off on their married journey… Scores of guests had come there to wish this couple the best in their togetherness… And, here, in one corner, we were about to take off on a discussion which seemed of another world… sad, disappointing and painful.
“Ma’am,” Neha told my wife, “for a marriage to work, you need commitment. Our marriage lacked it.”
We spoke for some time, empathizing with Neha. At 30, she still looked pretty and full of life.
“Now? Are you not planning to settle down again?” my wife asked Neha.
“No ma’am, not yet. I am afraid,” Neha said trying to contain her old wounds.
On our way back, I remained silent for most of the distance. I was over-awed by the sheer co-incidences that life, sometimes, throws before us… just to unsettle us, just to make us plant our feet firmly on the ground and our heads firmly on our shoulders.
Passion and commitment. These are not just words. There is nothing in life we can achieve without these. Incidentally, both – passion and commitment – come from our hearts. Not minds.
Passion, I keep telling every one, is red… blood red! When I have passion, nobody can miss it… It is contagious… Like a wild fire, it catches everything and everyone around. I can’t be passionate and uninspiring at the same time… Likewise, I can’t be passionate and remain unmotivated at the same time. When I pour passion, I pour my heart, my soul. I hold back nothing. I give my everything.
Commitment is the call of my heart, my soul. It is like signing a bond with my eyes open… A conscious decision I am making for myself… and that decision involves others as well, like in marriage. Commitment is never casual… can never be shallow. If it is, my boat is bound to hit the hard rocks… There is no escape from this certainty. Commitment brings forth a host of consequences. It brings forth responsibility. It is my ability to shoulder these responsibilities and face the consequences that is going to decide the quality of my life.
My tomorrow is like
the overwhelming ocean.
My life is like a small ship.
Every time I plan to take the plunge,
make a commitment –
I feel overpowered by
the vastness and uncertainty
of the ocean, my tomorrow.
I do get afraid, I do get crippled,
But, then, I quickly realize that -
that’s how my life is…and, should be.
I take heart in the old wisdom:
“A ship is always safe in a harbor;
but, that’s not the reason why it was built for.”
True. A ship is built for sailing.
My life is created for sailing…
Yes, into an ocean called ‘tomorrow’…
Maybe, Passion and Commitment alone are not enough to help me through my voyage. The winds and the storms can be too rough, too merciless. The thought of it makes me humbler… and fills me with reverence. I need Grace of the Captain above… I need to be ‘deserving’!
“Sail on, Barkha… Sail on Neha.”
The night was moonless. But, it was so… for all of us there!
* The names changed