Keshav Vijay is a successful 26-year-old entrepreneur, who, along with his brother, runs a Virtual Reality firm called House of Blue Beans in Bangalore. Having met his wife-to-be at the age of 15, he reminisces on how they grew up together, the struggles they endured and overcame in their relationship, and his impending role as a new father.
Ayushi and I met when we were both fifteen years old. She had just transferred from another school for eleventh grade, and since there was only one section for commerce at our school, we ended up being assigned the same class. She was extroverted and gregarious; I was quiet and wary of this rather loud creature. If you’d told me then, that I would marry this woman one day, I wouldn’t have believed you. But life works in mysterious ways, and one year after she joined my school, I was smitten.
After we graduated from school, Ayushi and I were determined to stay as close to each other as possible, so we both enrolled at Christ University, Bangalore for different courses. She had set her sights on pursuing civil services after her degree, whereas I wanted to tread the vanilla path of earning an MBA and clinching a steady job. A few months after she completed her Bachelor of Business Management, Ayushi left for Delhi to focus on her preparation for the slew of entrance exams she was about to give. Since I had secured a job with Goldman Sachs, I stayed rooted in Bangalore. Little did we know, that our relationship was about to face its first test.
The years that followed were hard. Ayushi studied relentlessly, never losing sight of her goal, while I decided to trade in my 9 to 5 job to start a firm with my brother. The loneliness of being in a new, alien city combined with the pressure to ace her exams sent Ayushi into a downward spiral. Meanwhile, I was juggling my own problems trying to bootstrap a company and proving that it was all worth it. Ayushi and I came out of this phase stronger, and learned one thing; that we had to support each other no matter what.
Ayushi eventually abandoned her pursuit of a career in civil services, deciding instead to pursue an MBA. She was accepted at Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Manila in 2014, and spent a year studying in The Philippines. This time around, we found that sustaining our relationship was easier.
Since the very beginning, marriage had always been on the cards, but we’d never set a date to it. So, when Ayushi was offered a job at Accenture Management Consulting in Manila after her convocation, we were both just as thrilled. We had realised by then that our individual careers lent us each, a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. And if we were happy at the workplace, it would bolster our relationship. Deciding not to wait any longer, we transitioned from being in a long-distance relationship to being in a long-distance marriage in November 2016, nine-and-a-half years since our courtship began.
I always wanted to be a young, energetic father with the ability to juggle a million different things. So, when Ayushi discovered that she was pregnant not long after we got married, I was over the moon. She was still working in Manila, and as soon as the initial excitement wore off, we contemplated how our lives were about to change for the better. You know, there is a certain perception in my generation about fatherhood. Many millennials think that fatherhood robs you off your coolness quotient, or turns you into a fuddy-duddy overnight. I don’t see it that way. When I think of my parents, or Ayushi’s, I realise that they’ve achieved parenthood without sacrificing their own dreams. My mother has been a teacher since I was a child, and Ayushi’s mother has been an excellent entrepreneur. They’ve travelled and seen the world. They’ve never looked at parenthood as a crutch or a hindrance. Because it isn’t.
I don’t think I’ll be a conventional father. I want to teach my child how to think, not what to think. I don’t see myself laying a significant focus on academics. I’ve realised with time that getting featured on the honour roll or topping your class means nothing in the real world. Being a sincere, passionate human being can take you much farther. If my son or daughter were enormously passionate about a sport, for which they would have to compromise on academics, I wouldn’t hesitate.
Ayushi and I know that raising our child will not be possible without the support of our families. Our parents will play an integral role in our baby’s upbringing, and while we will be active parents, we both intend to pursue our respective careers. We have ballpark plans in place for the future. Ayushi wants to spend the next five years focusing on our child, while balancing her job. In five years’ time, when I think I will be adequately settled in my business, I will play a more pivotal role, letting her regain momentum in her career.
I sometimes contemplate whether I will be able to adapt to the next generation. My dad, for instance, is a teetotaller, while I enjoy an occasional drink. Ayushi and I had an inter-caste marriage and expected our parents to understand, which they did. Will I, in turn, be able to embrace my child’s decision if he or she were to marry into another religion? I’m not sure. But I also know that I don’t need to have the answers right now. I’ll grow as a father, and learn the ways of parenthood in time. This is only the beginning.