In September 2018, my wife and I spent 10 days in New York City, on vacation. Visiting the Big Apple was a dream that dates back to the day I saw Home Alone 2 as a kid! The highlight of our trip was visiting Statue of Liberty, at Liberty Island on the Hudson River (in the Upper New York Bay). It was an experience in itself.
The Statue of Liberty stands tall as a universal symbol of liberty, equality, and fraternity. As the early immigrants arrived in Ellis Island by hordes in packed ships in the late 19th, and the early 20th century, the lady liberty welcomed them all with an inscrutable smile, from the Liberty Island nearby…
It was that warm welcome, which helped people from all over the world restart their lives as immigrants in the United States of America.
For all the bad rap the U.S. gets these days for its controversial foreign policy, its broken healthcare system, and what not… The Statue of Liberty still stands tall, to remind the world about everything good that the Land of Opportunity has to offer, and how it symbolizes the hopes, aspirations, and freedom for millions of people all across the world!
It was an emotional moment for me, as I visited Statue of Liberty on that chilly Tuesday morning. True, it was partly because – even as a tourist, I could empathize with the hope and aspirations of millions of immigrants that this monument has touched… However, to be completely forthright with you, that was not the only reason that brought tears (of joy) to my eyes.
The multitude of emotions I went through, was because the monument reminded me of MY Lady Liberty, the one person in my life that made me who I am today… Without her support, I would not ever dream of stepping foot to see THE Lady Liberty…
No points for guessing… that lady is none other than my wife.
Getting to see THE lady liberty with MY lady liberty in my arms was a dream come true by all means…
My Lady Liberty
For the longest time in my life, I was a pessimist.
Life kept burdening me with one problem after another. Life did give me semblances of hope, but they would pass, to leave me in dreary, dark recesses of pain, anger, agony, and depression. I got little or no support from the people I loved and looked up to. I crumbled under the yoke of expectations they placed upon my weak shoulders. Then they went on to blame me for my failures. I was broken, battered, and destroyed.
There was a point in my life where I felt that I should call it quits (seriously).
I had enough of living life with a fake smile planted on my face, with a storm brewing inside me. That was when life brought this woman into my life. We became friends, in the most random fashion. We connected with each other. She was broken, just like me. She had her share of demons inside her head, just like me. We could empathize with each other.
Our decision to join hands in the journey of a lifetime was impulsive at best. Not everyone was happy about that (many of them still aren’t), but our resolve that we needed each other was so strong! With good help from the universe (and some good people – both family and friends), we stepped into the journey of a lifetime.
I can’t believe that we just completed 5 years of peaceful coexistence with each other, a couple of months back! It still feels like yesterday, when we met each other…
If you’ve been following us in social media, you would think that the past five years was a bed of roses for us… You see us all smiles, beaming with our furry babies. You see us traveling the world, posing for smiling selfies like the one in this post where we’re beaming in front of Lady Liberty.
In all honesty, it’s far from it.
We’re both independent human beings, with our own passions, thoughts, and ideas about life, which is the opposite of what the society around us expects us to be. As a result, we get a lot of hate on a daily basis from the very people we expect kindness from. It doesn’t help that we’ve decided to be child-free pet-parents, and that we’re living a life that is against what one would expect of a traditional Indian couple. Even our career choices were counter intuitive. I quit my cozy (ahem!) Government (PSU Bank) job with a safety net (the safety net is actually a joke, really) to follow my passion (working on WordPress with Automattic). My wife quit her MNC Job as an Embedded Systems Engineer to become a Bridal Make-up Artist.
As we have reliably come to know, we’re the #1 talking point in family circles, where relatives talk in hushed tones about how arrogant and self-styled we are! About how we’re committing sacrilege by choosing to not have kids… There’s even a running bet of sorts on when we’d get divorced (with the odds being highly against us). Many doubt my wife’s character – because apparently her profession isn’t “decent”. I always get questions on why I travel so much (which is an implicit way of asking if I’m part of a smuggling racket). We’re prominently uninvited for family functions (which we’d rather not attend, thank you). We’re open and vocal LGBTQI+ allies, and we have our very own strong opinions when it comes to politics – which makes us “libtards” and “commies”.
All of this has taken a literal toll on our mental and physical health. Oh yeah – that reminds me – we’re regularly body-shamed (if you haven’t noticed; we aren’t exactly in shape) as well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The list goes on…
Despite all of this, we’re lucky to have found reasonable success and lots of happiness in life.
We’re both happy with our careers. We own a small apartment of our own in the city of Kochi (which we proudly purchased with the fruits of our own labour, without seeking any external help) – it’s our own temple of Nirvana. We have Ikru and Boo, our furry babies, who complete us. We’re not exactly rich at the time of writing this, but we are financially independent and are in control of our own lives… We’ve had the opportunity to see the world (we’ve travelled extensively across North America, Europe, and various states in India over the past three years), and have friends from all across the world.
Today, my wife is a globally certified/acclaimed make-up artist. The work I do at Automattic, has a direct impact on 35% of the internet.
Don’t get me wrong… despite all the negativity around us, life is definitely good!
We’re both firm believers in the value of gratitude, and we’re eternally thankful to the universe for all the gifts it has showered us.
Looking back, I have nothing but zero regrets, and a ton of gratitude.
If I had not met Archana, I would probably have shelved my dream of applying to work with Automattic (which I’d kept inside me for 5+ years). I grew up in a negative and toxic environment, as a result of which I lacked self-confidence. For the longest time, I truly believed that I was a loser. My wife, with her simple gestures of love, proved me wrong. For the first time in life, I felt that I’m worthy.
I spent 25 years in my life, trapped in a prison of self-loathe. For the first time in life, my lady liberty set me free from the prison of deep rooted self-loathing, and made me feel valued. It was probably how Peter Parker felt like when he discovered his newfound superpowers, at his tiny little apartment in Queens! It gave me the courage to break free from the shackles of my mind and discover all the possibilities the big, bad world has to offer!
I’ll be real: We’re not the perfect couple (we’re quite far from it, to be completely honest with you). If you enroll us in a couples’ reality contest, we’d not only fail, we’d embarrass ourselves real bad, and even be fodder for some viral videos. And nope! We don’t complete each others’ words. Na-ah!
But we do love each other to bits.
We have our differences, but we have our similarities too! I don’t think we can ever live apart from each other in this life; a fact that the universe has shown us time and again, over the past five years.
Of all the gifts the universe has showered upon me in 31 years of existence, a life with Archana is the best of them all (I know it sounds, corny, but I want you to know that these words come from the bottom of my heart). I don’t know how the future will turn out, and I’m by no means a soothsayer… but I do hope that I get to spend the rest of my lifetime with this amazing woman by my side.
If I ever run into that genie from Alladdin, that would be my first wish! 🙂