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This one is for you, Vijay

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Strong is a man who achieves. Stronger is the one who celebrates his wife’s achievement. Strong, not because he had a big heart to “allow” or “let” his wife pursue her dreams but because he stood for what he believed in, stood by his wedding vows and stood as a solid pillar of support for the lady he loves, defying societal gender stereotypes.

Many a times, I have witnessed women, way smarter than I am, step down and confine their caliber so that their husbands’ egos are not bruised. I have seen many, if not all, men, strive to win their ambitions, climb the corporate ladder or do whatever it is they aspire to do without the slightest regard for the wishes and desires of their spouses. They take their spouses’ sacrifice for granted because they assume that a wife’s role is to give up, support and follow her husband’s path without acknowledging her own passion. Why? Because that is what patriarchy has been preaching for ages and ages to men and women alike. As I walked down the dais with my MBA degree, during my convocation ceremony and watched my husband, Vijay, rush to me with a big hug and glittering eyes, I realized that I had married a very strong man.

Happy though I was with the degree in hand, I had an unsettling feeling lurking inside. 2016 was an uphill year for my family when Vijay and I, worked hard, both in our own ways. Yet, there I was alone at the receiving end of the congratulations. I cannot take the sole credit, nor would I give it all away to Vijay in gratitude. We did it together and it belonged to both of us. Since technically, I could not take him beside me to the podium and proudly show the world the mighty man I married, I am blowing the trumpet through my blog post.

During last year, I remember a few moments when we were faced with plastic smiles and questioning eyes, that translated my success as my husband’s inability. How can a man who was smart and intelligent, let his wife take one step ahead of him? He has to be dumb or so they thought. Meet Mr. Vijay, who stood first in the state in his school finals, who went to BITS, one of the prestigious engineering institutions in India, who has worked in leading international software firms, who was earning more in INR than many did in USD or CAD, who was humble enough to not let those go to his head, who was lively enough to be my best buddy always, who loved me enough to love and respect my dreams and secure enough to not let that bother him. Meet the man who was not behind his wife’s success but firmly, strongly, beside her, holding hands all the way, encouraging, teasing, cheering and celebrating.

The family that I was born into was not exactly the epitome of love and care. There were countless times in the past when I had longed for affection from the ones I had every right to expect love from but didn’t and couldn’t get. There were countless times when I was so alone that I wished I weren’t born at all. Ten years ago, back in 2007, I was scripting my own suicide letter in this very same blog – here. The one person that changed everything for me, made me not just want to continue to survive, but to live, love and embrace life with both the arms was and is Vijay. Since we got committed to each other, we’ve been through tough times and easy times but we always made sure that we marched together. When he had to march, I held the boat and when I had to march, he held the boat and today, hopefully, we both are ashore, making and raising two little children along the way.

Doing an MBA was challenging, yes, but the effort was nowhere close to the challenge that Vijay and I faced when we were 25, soon after my emergency C-section from delivering Akhil, taking care of a colic infant, with no external help and no clue whatsoever. We did that together. Yet, the friends and family complimented Vijay for changing diapers and being a wonderful dad while me, spending innumerable sleepless nights, breast-feeding a baby, recovering from C-section, going through post-partum depression and still doing everything that Vijay did was not even mentioned. Oh yes, mothers were “supposed” to do that while fathers can outsource that to the moms and moms-in-law, right? And if the father actually does his share for his child, he was complimented for that. I was royally pissed off.

Last year, it was role reversal. While I did my MBA, attending team meetings, working on assignments and going to networking events, Vijay continued to work from home for the company he worked for in India during nights and took more share in taking care of the children and me during the day. He basically helped the whole family stay afloat. Yet, there I was walking over the dais, getting congratulated for my “achievement” when his contribution was overlooked. I am pissed off again.

This is my husband and my family and no matter how the outside world looks at it, we know our lives and we know how to appreciate one another. This post is my tribute to my man in whom I find myself everyday, my strength, my support and my soul-mate. For all the milestones of the past and all the achievements to come in the future, I wouldn’t have been and couldn’t be able to do without you. This one is for you, my dear Vijay. You are my world!

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