I met Tej as an adult for the first time at his wedding reception in 1977. He was all of 24 and his lovely bride Usha was all of 22. Both the parents were good friends of mine and I had a small role to play in arranging the match. Both are single children for their respective parents.
Tej’s father ran a one man business trading with just one Munim to assist him. A munim in India is the equivalent of an accountant. Tej inherited the business and since his father’s death twenty years ago, been running it again as a one man show with just one secretary and a peon to help him. His mother too passed away two years after the death of his father.
Usha inherited five small businesses from her father who was into manufacturing rather than trading. He was supplying various components to various big industries in and around Bombay. He his wife tragically passed away ten years ago in an automobile accident.
Tej is now 60 and Usha 58. They are both what in India we call high net worth individuals with large fortunes. They have a son and a daughter, both highly qualified doctors practicing in the West, both married to doctors and have two children each.
You would think that Tej and Usha would be the happiest people on earth. They are but, not in the way you would imagine.
They live in a huge six bed room flat in an upmarket locality of Bombay. This flat is actually two flats on one floor converted into one by knocking off the separating wall. Tej’s father had bought them as residences for himself and Tej and after the death of both the parents, Tej knocked the wall off. The drawing room is huge and the dining area, smack dab in the middle where the separating wall should have been.
Usha lives on the Northern side of the flat and Tej in the Southern. They have not spoken to each other for the past fifteen years. They have breakfast together every morning prepared by Tej’s family retainer who weeps at this situation every time he meets me. After that, they go their separate ways and see each other only the next morning. Their lawyers and accountants are sorting out the cross holdings of the various investments, and both are in the process of winding down their businesses. Their children and grand children do not want to have anything to with either of them unless they become normally married people.
Tej is an introvert with very few friends and tends to be spiritual. Usha is vivacious and extrovert with many friends and interests.
Once all the accounting and legal complications are sorted out, which is expected to take place before the end of this year, they intend divorcing each other by mutual consent.
Tej spends at least one week end every alternate month with me at his farm house where we discuss and debate earth shaking matters and come up with ideas to set the world right. Both of us would like to do this more often, but my own preoccupation with other matters prevent such more frequent male bonding. Hopefully that too should change before too long. Among the adventures that Tej has had, a ship with some merchandise that he had shipped overseas, was hijacked by Somali pirates and for a while there was a lot of tension about that. It is all resolved now, but I can lay claim to the dubious fame of knowing someone who was a victim of piracy.
Tej and Usha use me as a conduit to communicate with each other on personal matters. I have not had much to do with their children and to that extent my involvement with the children and grand children has been minimal. I tried my level best to get the two of them to resolve their differences and failed and since the past seven years have stopped trying.
Yes, Tej is the same friend who I sounded out before I set out on this story writing. He not only agreed to my writing his story, he also encouraged me to start the series.
At the time of writing this post, none of the three of us can imagine what the future holds for them. Since neither of them is bothered unduly about it, I have stopped bothering about it too.
I enjoy my friendship with Tej as does he and as long as that lasts, some updates may be in store in the future.