Centre of innovation and leadership had always been a very strong wing of my engineering college, during my four years of engineering one fact was clear I was not made for engineering. And when I was blatantly put forward a question by the facilitator Rohit narayan “so you wasted your four years?” I was quick, succinct and clear NO I found myself.

I can act, moderate, be an editor, give wonderful presentations, also never blend professional life with people who hold a very due and important place in life, and last but not the least choose always real things in life over matter. I met Rohit in the first year of engineering during one of the leadership seminars.

A vibrant and an enigmatic personality, he was very stringent in his views and ideologies. When he heard that answer in the amphi theatre he was smiling and asked me to elucidate, somehow I changed in those four years.

When I entered the campus I was feeble, and skeptical of every move I made, but in four years I had this microphone in my hand and I was speaking in the midst of around 2000 students who, very later stage of their educational curriculum realized that this was the class they were not suppose to “bunk.” Yes very popular word during our college days.

However I never missed a single session of leadership, so I was confident, succinct, and even though Rohit was taken aback with my blatant approach, he asked me “what do you mean by life over matter?” I was quick again with my response. “I mean real things sir. Real things which build our concise, nourishes our soul, in short be connected to ourselves.

Using our instincts, with intelligence, choose love, family, loyalty, friendship, offer hands to people when they need you, not when we need them. Rise above our weaknesses, build a circle which supports you during your odd days, feels happy for you when they see you achieve great things in life, and the list goes on. “So you found these qualities lacking in the present generation? “ I said “we are living in a era were people do not make efforts to stay, mend, believe.

They just throw away pondering. Options are enormous to explore. We just don’t try sir”. There was an outrage in the Auditorium, and later to clarify my opinion I made very clear that “everyone is entitled to their opinion; these statements were entirely and precisely based on my personal experiences.” I received a huge applause for the way I delivered the speech, but content of the speech was unnoticed and audience paid very less importance to it.

Rohit was smiling “he said Priya you have an excellent memory and a very deep pondering mind, it can make you or it can break you, its up to you how you use it, for now you have managed to impress me.  I said in a very moderate tone “ you told me the same things four years ago, when I sold Chinese bhelpoori to you, as part of testing my marketing skills, nevertheless sir in four years I learnt the real skills how we handle ourselves in different situations with all our intellect, patience, and diplomacy. Without losing anything and gaining everything”.

Wish you all the best miss Jha, he heaped praises in a way not to get overboard, and told me all the best in the game of life. What life teaches you, you will never learn in school or college but with every examination you clear you will emerge stronger, wiser and calmer. Always seek answers within, Forget others never disappoint yourself. You are answerable only to yourself.

After seven long years I am writing about this entire episode, why? Suddenly? Because I was totally taken aback with an instruction manual that came with a hand bag that my sister gifted me from KARREN MILLEN.  I was waiting for this bag, it looked very expensive, I asked her how much did you pay for this? You must have spent a fortune? She said it’s like 12k.

I was bewildered and looked at her incredulously, in utter umbrage. Such a fortune on this? And look! it has an instruction manual, my cousin from Bangalore joined the conversation and looked deeply at my awestruck face and said “ dear little sister all expensive bags come with instruction manual, and I am totally taken aback that you have little knowledge in fact, no knowledge about hand bags.

Well I did tell my sister I just wanted a hand bag which will go for my all airport looks, she laughed hysterically and asked me what the hell is airport look? Whatever all you have to do is look good at the airport. People look at your outfit, and you’re HANDBAG. So I am happy this will suffice my needs.

My brother took this again with a pinch of salt and with a real pain stricken face he laughed hard and asked “ you really don’t know anything about handbags?” I punched his face and asked him to shut up and counteracted his question how you became so feminine. He gave a coy smile well “ I had girlfriends”. We laughed, teased, and had fun talking. And later post supper I went to my room to see the black beauty from KARREN MILLEN.

I opened the packaging, my sister gave me the way it arrived, and she paid some extra bucks to get it before time. Online shopping was one fastest way to get what we want on fingertips. However when I removed the packaging the bag was in a big black cover, it looked regal, immaculate, and magnificent.

I opened it carefully and looked at the bag. It was a decent tote bag, I figured out quite easily from sarees to suits, it will cater to all my needs, and especially airport looks. Just kidding! Well then came an instruction manual. Let me put it in bullets

  • Polish this bag regularly.
  • Do not overload the bag.
  • Protect the bag with the cover that has been provided with the package.
  • Please keep note of the above points if you want it to last long.

Well I read in one go, and asked my sister “ what do you mean by polish? “ she elucidated that these expensive leather bag comes with polish you spray on the bag to keep the shine and beauty intact. I looked this information is absolutely new and very enlightening, so much for a hand bag.

I get the second point that is the reason you literally carry nothing in Ralph lauren right? But you know I have a kid, so when I am travelling with him, a mini world travels with me. So this is not for me. On the contrary she was determined that I should keep the bag as it was a gift and secondly she told me take it in parties, airport looks, etc then unload it and follow the third step keep it nicely in the cover that is provided to you. Well I accepted with gratitude and thanked her for her gesture.

We chatted for a while and then I went back to bed, with my little man sleeping next to me. I felt hollow, heartbroken and there was part of me which was piqued. Sometimes we are on a threshold of something were our emotions are so deeply engraved that we refuse to acknowledge them.

We build a wall, a wall so stalwart that it hurts the individual who is housed and also the one who tries to break it, what happens when the effort is made from both sides. With gratitude, love, and compassion. Without being judgmental. Then we build great lives not walls.

When I read the instruction manual, I was deeply pained. I realized what if MARRIAGE came with the same instruction manual like this.

  • Polish this marriage with love, compassion, trust, understanding, transparency, and above all respect.
  • Do not overload this marriage with expectation. Water with minimalism.
  • Protect your marriage with prayers that has been bestowed upon you by all the love, faith and mutual happiness of your parents and elders.
  • Keep a note of above facts, if you want your marriage to last long.

I was making this mental comparison, of my newly gifted hand bag with the seven year long marriage. The fact is very clear and mandatory in our lives to be considered, which I made in the seminar of centre of innovation and leadership, seven years back.

The significance of the real things which make our lives better and fulfilling, and the attention it deserves. The hand bag from karren millen has come with a wide range of checklist, marriage should also come with a checklist mentioned above, and moreover every little thing in this universe is protected by habits.

Good habits, I am sure if I maintain a good habit of keeping an eye on the checklist that the hand bag is offering I am sure it will be spick and span, same goes for the marriage resolving fight within seconds, believing in intimacy, celebrating the presence each day, not feeling the absence and then celebrating the presence.

Doing those little things which made earlier days brighter, not stopping them even you celebrate every coming year. I had a friend in gym, she happened to be a holiday expert in make my trip, she told me how she celebrated her anniversary after 8 years.

There was no happiness it was like” ab kya cake mangao, aur khila do, ho gaya anniversary, phir wo gaya apne raaste aur main apne” I asked “what do you mean?” she said in a dull, and pathetic tone” we just avoid each other”.

There happened to be one more case of a women, named Prachi  who was working in IIPM as a coordinator manager, she had a good pay scale, had a comfortable life, was married for 3 years. One day a usual talkative and swift women, seemed trouble stricken. When I asked “ all is well?” she opened up radically” I am not talking to my husband from past 2 days, I mean we are clearly on a break”, well for a person like me who was JUST MARRIED these case studies were very illuminating, and shocking, because I remember I told her blatantly I can’t remain like this for 2 hours with my husband.

She laughed and said we will talk after few years and you will learn your lessons. Well I realized these sadist ladies cannot decide my course of life. No never! But post seven years I realized what exactly they meant. I made that mental comparison with the checklist because I had not been talking to my husband, for 28 days!.

I was wondering I can’t wait for 2 here we are surpassing days. But I realized the folly is the habit we build, during the course of our marriage. Firstly for all the reason you get married, suddenly seems to have vanished, something that never existed. It’s important to be true self; the necessity of change should not arise.

Secondly the unseen importance the person holds in your life suddenly becomes null and void. Your boss at your workplace does not speak to you, you will get irked. Here person who holds the key to your heart goes unnoticed, or should you wait for the nature to straighten your spine.

Thirdly you stop doing those tiny little things for each other, which made your marriage alive and made feel blessed, because the mere presence is taken for granted.  The real strata are there is no perfect rule for the perfect relationship, or marriage.

There is only one fact, mutual admiration and love for each other. More than that there has to be clear and perfect reasons why you want to spend your life with this person? And when you find real reasons, which simplify the adjectives like love, loyalty, friendship, symbiotic admiration you are on the right path.

However you will need time, age, and maturity for certain things to catapult at the frontline of living an epic love story successfully. The era we are living in it’s difficult to have your own, small, happy world in the midst of chaotic mad world out there.

I remember my husband raising eyebrows when he came to know that my grandparents were married for 70 years! It’s so extraordinary to be ordinary these days. That little world, were you can come back to, and get engulfed in mirth and blissfulness of it. It will give you the energy to fall back and eradicate your loneliness.

When I was openly speaking about the happiness in real, and eradicating the idea to be submerged in the ocean of materialistic things, my discussion with Rohit narayan was clear and to the point. That particular seminar was echoing in my ears.

The irony was I was getting this entire lesson from my handbag, finally when I walked with that karren millen out of the airport. I was more happy when I met my husband after such a long time, we were together again with my little man, and karren millen had the same things what Van heusan , or Ralph lauren or gucchi, or chanel or new market Kolkata will have. Contents will not change.

I might be more careful with the maintenance as it is a gift from my beloved sister, and she had spent a good amount of time, energy, and fortune for it. However the lesson I have been garnering was impeccable. While riding back home my little man sleeping next to me, and my husband asking plethora of questions, I was still lost in the discussion that I had with Rohit narayan.

He asked me “you don’t want money, success? “You don’t have any professional ambitions?” I still do not have any idea why intelligent and strong minded Mr narayan was asking me these questions, perhaps he wanted to delve deeper into my thoughts. I said “ sir I do want I am very ambitious person, I want to be an IAS officer, I know I am made for that, I want money, but not the type which chokes my sleep in the night, I want success but not at the cost of sacrificing anything which makes my life mirthful.

Precisely not living in extremes, live a balanced and contended life.  Rohit just smiled (that is what he liked to be addressed).  As I stepped out of the cab and was walking our way back home, after a long and thoughtful vacation.

Michelle Obama’s words echoed in my ears “marriage is a long journey, seal your marriage with prayers, love your spouse, pray for his/her well being every day, admire and acknowledge the presence. Ponder over the reasons you are together, build a base, develop good habits. Most importantly love hard”

Author: Priya Jha

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