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Continued from Previous……
Personal Space – Love does not mean that one should lose one’s identity and merge into the other one. Love sustains more when the two people keep their identities intact and maintain their personal spaces. Love also does not mean that the two people look only into one another. They should rather look together into many other things. We understood this after some time but then were able to respect one another’s personal space. We did not bring office work to home as a matter of principle, unless it was unavoidable. And we kept unavoidability to minimum. We read our own books when we had time. We followed our goals and objectives and supported each other. This made our relationship robust and strong.
Equality – It is not easy to pursue equality between men and women in a relationship. There are historical, social, psychological and emotional reasons for this disparity. Equality does not necessarily mean equal responsibility; it means equal status. We both had equal rights about whatever decisions were made during our lifetime. It also meant that we listened to, understood and respected one another’s opinion. Acceptance is always a mutual area where both contribute by way of flexibility. Courtesy in equality meant that we deferred to one another. And that we accommodated frequently.
Common Interests – We had several common interests. We loved music, we loved literature, we loved nature and we loved tea. Rukhsana had brought a very nice music system from UK. We set it up with the large speakers placed strategically for great effect. We would sit together, sip our tea and enjoy our collection of music. TV was not a common interest and most of the time it remained switched off. When I was promoted and went to Karachi in 1996, the family went along. Rukhsana took leave of absence. It was a great time. She had free time so she would bake things for children. We brought new books routinely from Sunday Bazaar and the whole family would be reading. Though my job kept me awfully busy, but we still managed to find time together and enjoy.
Doing Things Together – My personal philosophy is that our feelings should be expressed in a variety of ways; rather in every way. Doing things together is a great way to be together. It is bizarre that one person, usually wife, is busy with house chores and the husband is lazing around doing nothing, waiting for her to get free. We did a lot of things together. In the early years, life was rather tough; three toddlers, no support and jobs. We were on our own entirely and we managed by doing everything together. We could afford and we got some gadgets to make life easier. The microwave ovens had become available, so we bought one along with a deep freezer. On the weekend, we cooked for the week and stored it. We would take out a portion, heat it and eat it. It sounds unhealthy now, but we did not think much about it at that time. This is just one example, but our working-together theme included all that needed to be done. We were therefore able to do things in a shorter time, we were less tired or equally tired, and we could not complain to anyone. Jokes aside, but we fell in this routine happily. In retrospect, I believe that time brought us closer and made our bond stronger. Later on, life became much more facilitated in these areas and we found other things to do together.
Connectedness – Another important ritual we did was to stay connected. I traveled extensively in the country and internationally. There was never a day when we did not connect. I would call or she would call, but we always connected. We knew about one another and the children and felt good about it. Family is a liability or a source of strength; depends on how we take it. Connectedness energized us because we were source of strength for one another and the family was of supreme importance for us. We moved as a family for the same reason. When children became about 5 years of age, we started traveling during summer holidays. I would take annual leave which came with money (Leave Fare Allowance). We would pack up, take the car and went to northern areas for as many days as we could afford. We stayed in PTDC motels; they were cheaper and cleaner. We moved around without a strict plan and enjoyed. We saw some of the most beautiful places and spent some of the most wonderful time together as a family. We saw the most beautiful mushrooms in Sharan area in Kaghan valley. Some were as tall as six feet, colorful, lovely to look at and deadly. There are uncountable memories and mind visuals of those times. Allah has always been benevolent to us. All praise be to Allah.
Correction. In the sixth paragraph, the date of Rukhsana’s passing away has been written as 17 Feb 2020. Correct is 17 Feb 2019. Pointed out by a previous colleague. Thanks.