This is a direct outcome of the overwhelming response to my previous post. Thanks a lot to all who showed love, support and even admiration for the post: sincerely appreciated.  The other trigger was a meme which appeared on social media, which said that just like any other product, if the currency note also had an expiry date, then the whole process of demonetisation need never be repeated, but the purpose would get served automatically!!

Well, let’s not deviate from the topic, as I know the demonetisation exercise done by the Indian government in 2016 created quite a flutter and has left a lot of strong sentiments, which might just explode, even if this is a ‘strictly spiritual’ platform!!  So, let’s come back to relationships. For those who did not have a chance to read my previous article, the link is shared here. What I shared, was of course, that I am happily divorced: happy because I felt the marriage had kind of served its purpose till that point in time and considering the state of the relationship, divorce was more of a natural recourse to take.  So let’s look at a larger view of this and see if there are more relationships which deserve an ‘expiry date’.

Relationship with Spouse: We have all kinds of marriages, love marriages, arranged marriages, child marriages, marriages made in heaven, accidental marriages and so on. The objective is the same: to have a life partner, with whom one decides to spend the rest of their life aka Sukh Dukh ka Saathi. A strong subtle objective is also to grow a family, i.e. have children (carry forward the lineage if you may say so). But then no marriage is perfect. Let me reiterate – NO MARRIAGE IS PERFECT. Even if yours is, it has been perfected through adjustments, compromises and sometimes, through means of force – it’s been given a perfect-like look. And nothing wrong with that, that’s human nature, we either adjust and accept or budge and reject. The ones stuck in-between are the millions of hapless souls who keep debilitating on the hushe-D word and isi mein zindagi nikal jati hain – kids grow old quickly and then its like – who better will I find at this age !!  So an expiry date in a marriage is when the marriage, instead of being a constructive bond, where both partners are not just helping each other grow and have a happy time, but even growing their surroundings (kids, happy parents, beautiful home, etc) becomes more of a destructive relationship, where personal ambitions are compromised repeatedly and more importantly, there is abuse and damage, mental and physical. It’s important to look out for the possibility of such a date and accept it, when it becomes obvious.

Relationship with Parents/Child: NO- there is no expiry date to these relationships. Even 2 years after my father passed away, I can see him, feel him and experience his goodness in every sense. So I am not even getting into a debate on the issue. With my daughter also, while there are ephemeral, fleeting moments of frustration and anger, I know the bond is unique and it just strengthens over time. But yes, let’s admit it, we all have varying experiences with parents and children and we all go through those moments of ‘difficulty’ but these are ‘blood bonds’ and are never expected to have an ‘expiry date’.

Relationship with siblings: This is a tricky one. Though with siblings, we are as close as to parents/children (blood bond), the relationship goes through periods of ups and downs, simply because, as peers, we get into our own objectives in life and at times, especially when living apart, we sense that the distance is not just physical, but it’s in the mind as well. Even with technology-enabled communication making it extremely easy, it’s not always easy to have deep-rooted connect all the time. We may tend to get selective in time and frequency of engagement. This is a relationship that again, does not deserve an expiry date and should not be a topic for conversation.

Relationships with Boss/Colleagues: This is definitely up for debate, big time. Just like staying in an unhappy marriage is not a good idea, so also is working in a company which is not serving your best interests, or the company’s, for that matter. Working in a company should always be about learning and self-development, more than the money (I know, it’s rarely construed that way, and that is where people get it wrong many times). And the day the learning stops, the engagement should stop (it’s the expiry date!). We just have this one life and in this life, we have a limited period of highly constructive, productive work to deliver and it’s best done where we are having a great scope of learning. So if your role is not great, your boss is not adding value, look for other jobs in the company. If that also does not work, look for another job. Do not just stagnate and vegetate there just because of the attraction of pay or beautiful colleagues to party with. In the long run, this will do more harm than good for your career. 

Relationship with Friends: This is again a highly contentious topic, but maybe this was the moot relationship that prompted me to write this article. We all have friends from different stages in life. Right from the chuddi buddies to the fellow members in the senior citizen club or the laughter club, etc. (no sir, I am not there as yet, just trying to include the oldest possible instance of making friends !!). We all hope to have the friend count go on increasing, as we also try to depend on the relationship with the oldest friends. I am assuming this to be an idealistic scenario, not necessary that we all want it this way. But let us accept it, we are just not God, we are not even God-like. So to have such over-arching goals is just not practical. Most of us in the 60s and beyond, might be more than happy to have 3 to 5 close friends (hopefully couple-friends, so we do not do bachelor trips with a walking stick or on a wheelchair ;-)) Then why do we try to deepen the relationship with so many of our friends, making that extra effort to remain in touch, wish on every occasion or make plans for joint trips. At some point, we need to accept that every friendship may have a ‘best use by’ date, not exactly an ‘expiry date’, which means that the friendship has served its primary purpose (like helping u become an engineer – friend from grad college, etc). I have had many deep friendships, but those friends now do not even feature in the Diwali greeting list (yes, the WhatsApp jpeg mass messaging list! – honestly, I do not send any. I meant I do not get any of those from these friends!!). And do I regret the time and effort spent in building that friendship up, just because it’s over. NO- that’s the point of this article. We need to accept the limitedness of friendship and move on. The world population is 7bn+ there are many more to make new friends with. Jo Chala Gaya usey bhool ja. 

Relationship with things: Only food and medicine come with an expiry date. Vehicles, in many cases, have an expiry date forced upon them by the government. Electronics have an expiry date when they just stop working. But what about inanimate objects like clothes, furniture, shoes, etc? If they do not have physical wear and tear, it’s extremely hard to have an expiry date for them. I have my shoe collection piling on. The number of shirts I have is so many, I can’t even count. I keep giving away regularly, but cannot decide what is ‘ready to be given away’ !  Yes, I know I am getting into a totally different topic, that of minimalistic living, etc. but yes, there should be an expiry date for relationships with inanimate objects and if there is someone else who can benefit from what we have, please do pass it on as an act of kindness.

In summary, all that I would say is that all relationships have a purpose and the sooner we understand the purpose, the better. The purpose is not for us alone, but is two-pronged. So give the other person also an equal chance to be able to fulfil that purpose, in a realistic sense, before taking any drastic step. The relationships need not be terminated explicitly, but quietly accept the dormant nature that they go into and do not be flustered when that happens. Life is full of wonderful people you may never meet, if you stay hung up on broken relationships you are trying very hard to fix them all the time.