Celebrating Failure10 mins 208 10 mins 208
Kajal knew that they had failed on an epic scale! Her husband, Sushant was on the hospital bed and far from recovery, she had lost her job and both their bank accounts were at an ultimate low. And so was her spirit!
She played brave whenever she would get an encouraging call from her parents. But she knew internally, that her fortitude was fast draining out.
She was humming the song ‘Jab koi baat bigad jaye…….’ as she waited beside Sushant who was in deep slumber. He had stayed like this for most of the month. He had to get one of his rib-cage bones removed since it was infected and according to the doctors was incurable. The operation had been successful, but the stiches were now infected and far from healing. This had forced him on strong drugs and the slumber had been since then. It was difficult for him to even open his eyes since that required a considerable effort from his end.
On the other hand, Kajal had lost her job since she had not been performing well, according to her reporting senior. This could be either because of an overall business scenario or a lack of concentration in her work. But she knew, she had tried her best and despite that failed hugely at it! It was very much a part of any professional ballgame to look forward to the first person who could be easily blamed for all the debacles, completely ignoring the initial worthwhile contributions. This was simply motivated by coming out safe themselves.
Sushant on the other side was on a medical ‘LWP’ (Leave without Pay). Thankfully, his superiors understood his conditions to some extent and were generous enough not to expel him. Well, this was also because of his bankable earlier performances. He had received an ‘Employee of the year’ by the CEO and was also promoted to a senior position in a very short tenure. They knew that losing him would not be sensible or feasible. And they thankfully believed in his competence.
Kajal stroked Sushant’s hair mildly, to wake him up for lunch. She simultaneously remembered the magical night when they were wedded about two years ago. It was a love marriage and both families were willing for the tie-up. A conformity from both ends was very rare and priced in the India’s marriage scenario. Both Kajal and Sushant had been the lucky ones at least on this part. While Kajal had managed to wear the garland around Sushant, in the ‘Varmaala’ ceremony; Kajal’s close friend Siddhartha had lifted her in the air during Sushant’s turn. Sushant had to jump to do the same and it was applauded much to the delight of both the families and the guests.
Kajal’s eyes were filled with tears as she recollected that magical night. Little was she aware then, that fate had different plans for them. That magical evening had come to an end and it was time to wake up to reality. She wondered at the ambiguity of her current circumstances. The couple were at rock bottom now!
Sushant turned and opened his eyes and gave her a faint smile only to close his eyes again. He had become physically weak and was unable to even open his eyes, leave apart getting up and going to the washroom. Kajal now appreciated why marriage anniversaries were celebrated across the world. An impulsive affair could be lost somewhere in the dust and smoke of everyday life. But marriage taught you to hold on to the circumstance and your partner while simultaneously accommodating the situation and living life accordingly.
There was one silver lining to the cloud. And that was that the doctors had approved of relieving Sushant since their job was over. The operation was successful. It was entirely upon Sushant now, how quickly he could manage to recover. This was so typical of a multicity hospital. The empathy with the patients concluded the moment they would receive the payment confirmations. They were on to their next focussed individual.
Sushant’s parents had come down for support and assisted in bringing back Sushant to his abode after Kajal completed the hospital formalities. Sushant’s parents stayed with them for three weeks assisting the couple with everything from cooking to fetching groceries and medicines to helping Sushant in ablutions. However, it was difficult for them as well, to stay away from their hometown for long. They left on the promise of early return. It was Kajal’s parents’ turn for the visit. They too assisted the couple in every aspect. However, the day of their return was also coming close. Neither of them had retired yet and had to hence get back to their individual work at the earliest. They left after two weeks with one valuable piece of advice for Kajal, that she would have to stop sympathizing with Sushant and let him do things independently.
As much as it was cherished guidance, it was as difficult to implement. What was far from done was Sushant’s recovery. He was merely able to open his eyes now, but did not have ample strength in his body to walk all by himself. His stitches were healing because of which his medical drug dosage was considerably reduced. What needed to be comprehensively taken care of was his planned meals as suggested by the hospital nutritionist. Nobody could stand by the farm products in today’s date, swearing by their credibility but at least Kajal could follow the prescribed regime. That would never make her question her efforts.
Kajal decided to actually stiffen her emotions, and make Sushant attend a few of his needs on his own. She would silently observe as Sushant collected his body to make himself walk till the kitchen for a glass of water and would run to him immediately, the moment there was an indication of his body giving up and falling. She also soon got Sushant enrolled in physiotherapy sessions. This would teach him to train his body to gather strength internally. She would accompany Sushant daily to the physiotherapist for scheduled sessions and bring him back for ensuring adequate rest. There was one thing which Kajal ensured at all times and that was not letting Sushant’s self-confidence come down even by an iota. The couple were intermittently visited by the parents and in-laws. They were cooperative in every possible way and would support them by all means. None however treated Sushant as a patient. He was very much made to feel like any normal individual.
Sushant also knew deep down his heart that he had to keep his self-confidence going and also not let his family’s efforts on him break-down. There would be times for him when it would be difficult for him to even write, merely because of a lack of balance in his hand. But he would leave no stone unturned in compiling his mental and physical strength to emerge out successfully in any miniscule activity. It would provide both him and his family a sense of achievement.
From talking to walking to everything else was a gradual process of recovery. Kajal wondered whether these efforts would actually bear any results any day. She would immediately replace this gloomy thought with a wish that there would be a magical effect someday. This was even more important now, since it had been two months of absence from office for Sushant. Unfortunately, corporate world did not recognize illness as a natural occurrence. It looked upon it as an individual’s mistake if a person falls sick. Sushant’s office was also fast running out of patience, on his recovery. It was high time now for Sushant to go to office.
The office greeted a recovering Sushant with all positivity and encouragement. Sushant felt confident and optimistic on his return. His daily routine was now chalked out. Online cabs were an easy option for daily commuting, but sitting continuously online at office-work was as difficult. Sushant felt drowsy throughout the day due to his drug dosage. This would, in turn, affect his concentration. The office was happy on Sushant’s return also, so that he could be given the responsibility of several tasks and projects. No one had the time to understand that he was not completely back on his complete stamina. And in fact, no one was even willing to wait to for that prized moment. The only reassuring thing was the monthly salary at the end of the long, laborious, exhausting month.
Months were lapsing with Sushant trying to cope up with everything around him from travelling to office on his own to sitting for eight hours at office to having lunch at the same pace as his colleagues to attending late night online meetings. It was one step at a time and thankfully in the forward direction despite multiple failures in between.
On one weekend as Kajal woke up from her afternoon siesta, she was disturbed to not find Sushant by her side or in the house. She frantically called upon his mobile to which he did not answer. As she sat troubled on the chair, the doorbell rang and she was relieved to find Sushant there.
‘It’s still fine that you went out without telling me but what makes you not receive my calls?’
Sushant had dared himself to drive, that Sunday afternoon. Knowing that Kajal wouldn’t let him attempt the same, he had sneaked out to try his hand at the steering wheel after 8 months.
Pleasantly surprised, Kajal saluted to Sushant’s fighting spirit. Both went for a drive that evening to the nearby restaurant. They treated themselves to this otherwise small victory. They knew that the next thing on the list was their long-time immobile car’s service.
Life was beginning to step out of its stagnant posture and had started moving even though slowly. Sushant physiotherapy sessions had now converted to daily morning walks. Kajal was the one to derive inspiration out of this and accompany him most of the time. Kajal was delighted when Sushant expressed that he wanted to cycle daily to further build upon his stamina and balance. Both purchased a basic bicycle on one of the weekends and Sushant got to cycling in the evenings or mornings as time permitted him for that particular day.
Sushant was gradually gaining back his strength and it was sinking in Kajal that it was now time for her, to take action now. She frantically started searching for jobs. She loved the way that time had started shaping out and would love to be at home supporting her husband on everything. They had however, hugely also lost financially and it needed to be compensated for.
Kajal started receiving calls from HR consultants. They would however instantly drop the idea of proceeding with her resume, the moment they would get to hear upon her professional break. While there were a few generous ones as well, either there would be no call for an interview or an interview would not convert into recruitment. Every time Kajal would have to face the constant question of her career break, she would cover it up with her husband’s ailment. Why was it so difficult for the world to understand that people do fail? They do not succeed all the time. It was astonishing to see the world at least pretend to believe the fact there are no impediments in anyone’s life and that all should be smooth sailing.
On one of the weekday late evenings, Sushant returned back home to see a frustrated and depressed Kajal weeping. She narrated how none of her recent interviews had culminated to success. Sushant smiled and held her hand.
‘When I was gathering my strength, you were there for support. It’s time to reverse roles.’
Both knew that they had covered a long way. Kajal worked upon her competencies, undertook courses to update herself with the upcoming market scenario and also started exploring jobs in different domains. Sushant was there by her side at every low; cheering and encouraging her, reminding her of her skills and achievements. He rescued her from falling into depression. She finally landed herself with a decent job. Sushant was much more relieved than Kajal.
Both now knew it was fine to fail! Whatever the reason for the failure is, whether health or incompetency or anything else, it was nothing to be ashamed of. The only worrisome part would be not making any efforts to rise. One could actually celebrate recollecting how one had managed to come out of the tough times on the basis of grit, determination, and mere hard work.
The couple started picking every twig bit by bit, to rebuild their nest. Somewhere, maybe life was returning back to normal or maybe not! No one knew what was next in store for them. They had just learnt that they had to give themselves permission to fail.