- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
The Circle Of Life!
- 13 Jan - 19 Jan, 2018
You work too hard. I could hear her voice in my head as I prepared to leave work after 9pm for the third time now. She had to put up with so much and it hurt. I was beat. I did not know how I would drive home in this condition.
“I know it is time to close the books. The audit. But when will we get ‘our time’?” Her voice at the other end sounded strained and tired when I had called her earlier to tell that I would be late. I could almost feel her frowning.
“This pays our bills, Saima. I cannot neglect my duties. This job is important to me. It is important for us.” I tried to sound encouraging. I only heard her sigh in response.
“It will get better in a few years. I am up for a promotion and then I would not be so busy. The new position would mostly require supervising and delegating,” I continued.
We both knew deep down that the workload would never get reduced but I had to say something to make her feel better, right?
I did not reveal this to her then but I had my eyes on a vacancy in our company’s branch abroad. I had expressed my interest in it to my boss, who had gladly agreed to write me a recommendation.
I knew I would be the lucky one if I strived hard for the position. However, breaking it to Saima was another thing. She did not like the idea of moving out of Pakistan. Having been brought up in America, she had only little interest in being a part of that world once again. She had to work extensively to fit in and felt that Pakistan was where she belonged. She did not want to lose her footing, only for the elusive “greener grass on the other side.”
“It is not like how they show in movies at all. No one becomes rich in America overnight. It is a myth. It seems lucrative only because of the rupee exchange rate. Even ordinary people put on a show of wealth when they get here.”
Having understood that, I still wanted to give it a try. I was convinced that I would win her over eventually. She was open to the idea of moving to Britain after all, with her literary background and everything.
“Let us see,” I said to no one in particular.
I found her stooped over a pile of papers on the table when I got home. Some old song blared from our television set. Pen in hand and hair piled high in a bun, she turned her beautiful face towards me as I stood behind her, smiling.
“Finally,” she said.
She looked very intellectual with her glasses on and a red pen in her hand.
“Have you eaten yet?” I asked, knowing full well that she had probably eaten thrice waiting for me and also because she needed the stamina to correct her papers.
“Yes, Fawad. But I can get a plate ready for you. Have you eaten?”
“Yes,” I answered. “You know Saima, you work too hard. How long have you been sitting here checking these scripts?”
“Touché. I have a deadline too, you know? You are not the only one in this house who works for a living.”
I laughed. This circle of life. Starts from birth and ends at the office, slaving away for the corporate heads. Whatever happens in between is a blur with no time to think, plan and engage in any creative activity. Finding inner peace or discovering the purpose of life has no real meaning in this materialistic world. Disconnecting has become a distant dream. At times, we are so tired that we just sit in front of the television screen and zone out.
Who are those people who detach themselves from this hubbub and retire to the wilderness? They cannot exist in a cosmopolitan city like Karachi for sure.
“What are you thinking?” Saima momentarily looked up from her papers while I continued flipping channels.
“I think I will just get ready for bed,” I said as got up and left the room.
I really wanted to share the events of my day with her but honestly, I had no energy left.
I suddenly felt nostalgic for the days when we had nothing to do except talk and laugh with each other. I guess we should soak up the good moments while they still last.
This world needs more time; time to play, time to enjoy, relax and find inner peace. Time to travel. Discover. Make new memories. Ironically, people look for more opportunities to earn money in their leisure time. Working and earning more is always the first thing on their minds. But not us; we will try and learn how to unwind. We will create a world that is peaceful and not just a crazy race towards the pot of gold. We needed balance in our lives.
I walked back to the lounge. She was exactly where I had left her. No wonder she suffered from headaches and backaches and could not even see clearly. “My eyes hurt,” she would frequently complain after checking myriads of scripts during exam season.
“Saima. We need to learn how to unwind.”
“Put way the scripts and let us talk.”
“Ok. I am almost done for the day anyway.”
She put everything aside and looked at me expectantly, with a smile playing on her lips.
You would always find her smiling, no matter how tired, frustrated or upset she was.
“There is no trace of smile or warmth when she is mad at you though!” my inner voice reminded me. “Yup,” I silently agreed. “She is super cold and scary then.”
“Yes? I am listening,” Saima’s voice echoed, impatiently.
“I just feel that we work so doggedly the whole day that when it is time for us to bond and relax, we zone out and are left with no energy to talk.”
“Hmm… and what can be done about that?”
“We need to find ways to unwind.”
“I like that thought. But how?”
I could sense her growing impatient. Her half-open eyes clearly reflected her exhaustion so I knew I had to be quick.
“We should make a list of everything we want to do together but have not had a chance to do yet. We can prioritise them so that we know exactly what to do on our days off work.”
“I like it. Let us,” Saima replied, animatedly. Her enthusiasm made me feel a lot lighter. The mere fact that we now had a reason and purpose to talk made me feel less fatigued.
So we sat down to make our list:
1. Shop as much as we wanted or needed to, even if it were only for groceries. Retail therapy!
2. Visit our parents often and also invite them over more.
“But your parents are in Lahore.” Saima pointed out.
“We can visit them for a few days every three months or so.”
3. Go to the movies at least once a month.
4. Go out for a meal at least once every weekend.
“I like the idea of having breakfast outside. We can get more out of the day that way.” She quipped.
5. Watch a movie at home and order some pizza at least once a week.
“Screw healthy eating! We can survive the cholesterol overload once in a while, right?” I celebrated.
6. Find time for conversations and put away our cell phones during them.
7. Read books and exchange our thoughts about them.
8. Have an early night on days we just feel too tired to do anything.
9. Ignore emails and messages that can wait for a more reasonable hour. Being online does not always mean being available. Our life does not need to revolve around others all the time.
10. Ignore social events that only tire us out and make us cranky.
11. Take time off from each other once a month. Boys’ and girls’ night out, not necessarily on the same day.
12. Always find time for ‘me’ time! Ignoring each other during that time is acceptable.
“Now that is going to be a bit hard for you, knowing how big a distraction I am.” I teased my wife. Inside, I knew how desperately she needed it and how capable of ‘ignoring’ me she was in that hour. Anything for her peace of mind though.
13. Try taking time out for cultural activities. Plays and concerts, book readings or exhibitions.
This she found particularly interesting, being literary that she was.
14. Discover a new hobby together or separately.
“But we already have so much to do on our list!” she reminded.
“But why not? You always wanted to learn how to cut hair professionally? Now is your chance!”
15. And lastly, to partake in at least one outdoor activity once a week, even if it is just sitting in the balcony at night staring at the stars.
My craving for the outdoors had to be satiated in some way too!
We realised that in one way or another, we were already doing most of the above but enlisting it on a piece of paper somehow made it more official. Plus it gave us a chance to talk about things we had always wanted to do. More planning you say? Having your day planned out is much better and productive than wasting time on things like surfing the internet aimlessly.
I felt better and I knew Saima was excited too. “So what should we do now?” I asked, looking at her already slumped on the couch, half asleep. Now is the time to go to bed and prepare ourselves for another day to serve the corporate world. The circle of life. Sigh. •