I apologize to you my dear readers for leaving the last part in a ‘cliffhanger’ state. Here’s the continuation:
The best part of the stay at Ro’s place was that he had cooked one of the best Biryanis I had ever had. He even made peanut chutney to go along with idlis for breakfast the next morning. We had known Ro only through phone calls, so I didn’t know about their likes. As a safe bet, I had baked a batch of brownies and taken along. Luckily it turned out that Ro’s wife loves brownies. I was also bowled over by the hospitality offered by the couple. They had even kept a new toothbrush and toothpaste ready in the bathroom, just in case I had missed bringing mine. Ro dropped me to the airport next day and also sent two huge boxes of Bengali sweets. I also enjoyed some time out, the lone journey and the experience of exploring an unknown place on my own. I had cooked enough food for two days before I left and also trained Abbas to tie Mantam’s hair into plaits as he had to pack them off to school. He sent me a picture of how he had tied their hair and when I appreciated him, he replied that “Ok. Whatever! But it doesn’t mean that you will delegate this job as well to me”
I came back and as usual resumed desperately looking for jobs. Amidst all this, there was a huge rift between A and S and it went to a point where A walked out of the house with his bags packed. As good friends and well-wishers, we asked A to stay at our place. We thought it was a momentary skirmish and that they would soon reconcile. Things turned out extremely sour between the two and we were stuck in between without knowing what to say to whom. A stayed with us for a month and then moved on to a shared accommodation. They eventually got a legal divorce and currently both of them are not in touch with us. It was a mentally disturbing phase for us as well. We were already stressed with our job hunt, and to top it we involved ourselves too much emotionally in the entire episode as we had seen the two of them as a couple madly in love with each other. Mantam were also disturbed by it as they saw A and S having verbal spats in front of them. We saw them reacting uneasily even when Abbas and I had silliest of arguments. Abbas and I sat them down and explained to them the situation between A and S and that they had no need to worry as Mumma and Baba loved each other and were never gonna be separate. They did have a lot of questions and we had to tactfully answer all of them without giving them an indication that staying married was the best thing to do. We tried to make them understand that it was normal for people to get separated.
We stepped onto July with no progress at all on the job front. The anxiety only scaled new heights with every passing day. With friends, well-wishes, relatives and family constantly checking on us about jobs, the tension only aggravated. It was downright frustrating and humiliating to say the same reply every time. There came a point when Abbas and I had unnecessary arguments. We both could feel that it was not us, it was the situation that made us act insane. One day we had an extremely heated argument where Abbas declared that we will have to pack our bags and go back. I got so freaked out with his quick acceptance of failure and the thought of retreat. I retaliated by saying that he was free to go back if he wished to, but he had to leave alone. He said I was free to stay back but he would take Mantam along with him. (I’m laughing now thinking about it but I cried buckets then) I could not argue any further as he also blamed me for the situation we were in. I broke down. Mantam pitched in and tried to console me. I was inconsolable. All the anguish of the interview failures, hopeless anticipation of getting a job and the adversity that we were facing released themselves in the form of a stream of tears. I told Mantam that Baba wanted us to go back as we were not able to find any job in Australia. Tammu told Abbas “Baba, whenever we fail to do something you always tell us that we need to keep trying till we succeed. So, you should also try and try harder till you get a job”
Later that night, Abbas apologized to me for behaving the way he did. I told him that all the decisions we had taken so far in life were mutually agreed upon. We came here because we both decided it. And if we had to return, we both had to agree on it. And there was no way I was going to return as a failure. Now that we had jumped into the well, we had to learn to swim. We should not accept defeat so easily.
I intended to complete this post today but it’s already close to midnight. I’m sorry but I will have to leave it here and continue in the next post.