Two decades and counting

My cousin who is a journalist and an exemplary writer recently wrote about her 28 years of marriage to a military spouse. An inspiring read to say the least but it got me thinking of my marriage and where  (after 20 years) we've come to from our early days together as husband and wife though neither of us are in the military.

I've always had relationship issues or to put it bluntly, had no relationships at all with the fairer sex during my wild formative years in the northern regions of Nigeria nor during the obligatory four years of engineering in India. 

The whole concept of getting married came quite out of the blue as I was merrily going about my first job in the US after completing my graduate degree there. My uncle in India kind of suggested I consider this girl who was a distant relative of mine. The type of decision making one does in the younger days is so unfettered and liberating. Being the 90s, I got her photos in the post and showed it to my ex-roomies who asked me what I was waiting for and that was it.

Vaishnavi and I did talk a lot during those early days apart and though I could ill afford the multi-hundred dollar phone bills, it didn't stop me. Though we were related, we'd hardly seen or talked to each other growing up so this was essential for both of us to do. When I did go to India for the the 2-in-1 program (engagement followed by wedding on consecutive days), it was still quite awkward for both us to say the least.

Our early days together in the US were hard only when we look back on them in today's context. We didn't have money and often withdrew cash from credit cards to put into our bank account (don't really remember why the convoluted transactions). We never thought of these as hardships though and just went with the flow. 

When she cooked for the first time in her life, I made an innocent comment on the sink being full of pots and pans and pretty much a single cooked offering to show for it. She burst into tears. I also had to alter my daily routine drastically. I'd come home from work, have tea and take a nap. Hmm...

For a girl who's been around family all her life, being away for the first time in an alien land with a stranger cannot be easy any way you look at it. I must say she adapted remarkably well very quickly.

The start of the new millennium gave us our first experience of true adversity.  We realized that we couldn't have children. It's when you know you can't have something that you want nothing else. It did take us a while to even accept this fact. We'd read about teenage kids aborting their pregnancies and newborns flushed down toilets and we'd cringe and lament at the unfairness of it all.  

We finally reconciled to the harsh reality and then went about figuring out a solution. Numerous tests, prodding and medications followed. We found this amazing doctor  specializing in IVF at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and we were there a few times a week.  It wasn't all bad. The whole experience was turned into an entertaining aspect of our lives and I still remember both of us laughing insanely at the stupidest things as we went back and forth from the hospital. An unforgettable quote from one of the doctors - 'you have a beautiful uterus' - cracks us up to this day.  

Towards the end of 2002, we were informed that two eggs had fertilized and were on the merry path to parenthood. Neither of us believe in miracles but if there ever was one, this was it. And in the 37th week of our tiny adventure, during a routine examination, Dr Lindstrom (who Vaishnavi thought was very good looking) said these words - 'Let's get those babies out of ya. Would 1 p.m work for you today?'

We moved back to India in 2004 with our twin girls and life's been good. Our girls have grown up to be strong independent little women and we can't imagine how we survived before them. We have had job changes (me more than her), gone through distressing financial times and tough relationship times. 

If I could draw a graph, I must say, overall, things have been well above the median in terms of how our relationship has evolved. Yes, we have become older, more irritable and grumpy, but when I see Vaishnavi,  I still see the slim, long haired gorgeous girl all of 22 years old.

What prompted me to write all this now? One was definitely my cousin's eloquent recap of her married life.  Other than that, memories started flooding back last night. Vaishnavi and I took a long walk and we talked about our future, our children's future, what and how we should plan for them. We got to thinking about how we started out and the fun we used to have together. It was time to pen down our joint history.

For most of us, there are no defining moments in life but a series of incremental events that define our relationships. The two of us are very different but our core values, morals and beliefs are the same and that's pretty much my nugget of wisdom for those embarking on the journey of togetherness.

I can't but resist ending with a few lyrics from an old Paula Abdul song because this so us!

Baby seems we never ever agree 
You like the movies 
And I like T.V. 
I take things serious 
And you take 'em light 
I go to bed early 
And I party all night 

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