You, me and… no baby!

Their passion for trekking brought them together. For Kamalika and Tapash of Kolkata, love blossomed during high-adrenalin training sessions of a mountaineering club. And despite being nine years apart, they knew they were meant to be together and take on some death defying adventures.

Married for almost two years now, the couple has taken the first step to realising their dream by floating an adventure sports company that takes groups on camping and trekking excursions. With more ambitious projects in the pipeline, they can't even consider having a child. Asks Kamalika, "Our lives are uncertain, what if we didn't return from an expedition? What would happen to our baby then?" She accompanies her husband on all his trips. "We want to explore a lot of places, and there is no question of bringing up a child for the heck of it," she reasons.

Hers is not a remote instance and a whole new tribe of fiercely independent couples today is choosing to not make babies and focus instead on their creative pursuits.

When Subroto Ghosh (name changed), 40, a journalist living in Pune gave marriage a shot last year, he had one thing very clear in his mind - no babies! And fortunately for him, his wife too came from the same school of thought. He is candid, "The thought of having an 18-year-old at the age of 58 is disturbing. A child should ideally be an independent adult before you retire." He adds, "My wife and I have erratic work schedules. I don't think we would have done justice by bringing another life to the world." To give a dimension to their marriage, the couple has adopted a cocker spaniel 'Belch', that by Subroto's own admission seeks as much attention as a child.

Until some years ago, couples who couldn't have kids were looked down upon, let alone those who chose to not have one. The perception has somewhat changed as more and more couples are opting to never become parents. Says Dr Rajendra Barve, psychologist at IIT Hospital, Mumbai, "These are couples who have found a purpose in life as against those who feel companionship is only about holidaying and partying. The latter usually end up having extra-marital affairs and eventually lose interest in their partner. Baby or no baby, it's about how creatively a couple is intimate with each other."

But for Abhay, 26, a marketing personnel based out of Bhopal, having children is an investment he is not willing to make. A year into marriage, both Abhay and his wife Rhea, have decided to steer clear of parenting. "Being responsible for someone throughout their life makes me jittery. Once you have a kid, you are grounded; either you or your spouse has to sacrifice a career to raise the child. Else, it would be unfair on the kid," shares Abhay. Like Subroto, the couple has adopted a labrador pup 'Foster' that keeps the household alive. 'When Rhea and I go out, Foster gets all sad and distant. It is a terrible feeling to leave him
behind, and we wonder how painful it would be were it our own kid," says he.

Perhaps a pet is easier to deal with and yet gives a high similar to raising a child. Vikram Karve, 54, who wrote a heart-warming short story on a Double Income No Kid (DINK) couple, is married for the last three decades and has grown up children. "We have an empty nest, which our pet beautifully fills up. But this is not to say that you should keep a pet instead of a baby. Those who get married should have kids as it is the kid that brings good vibes into the relationship," he avers.

According to Delhi-based sociologist Reeta Brara, couples not going for kids is a mere trend and not true across the board. Says she, "Blame it on today's self-indulgent lifestyles, where couples are not willing to share their resources even with kids. Young working women often think their career will take a backseat if they planned babies." But Reeta feels some unwed career-driven mothers such as Sushmita Sen are doing a great job of parenting, despite the odds.

Painter-curator, Alka Raghuvanshi, 48, who has married and divorced twice with no kids, is clear. "You can't divorce a child. From diapers to dentures it is a never-ending proposition. Women who say they can balance everything from career to kids, are lying to their teeth," she quips. Alka had lost a baby in her womb just a day before its birth from her first marriage. But she has no regrets, "After the incident I lost interest in having a baby and conveyed as much to my husband. I believe God willed me to not have kids. With a child around I couldn't have travelled the way I did, and painted with the same passion."

With mounting pressures of daily life, couples not willing to make an emotional and financial investment into parenting are on the rise. But how natural or unnatural is it for a couple to not have kids? "It's not a socio-culturally natural way of living," says Dr Bhavna Barmi, senior clinical psychologist and marital therapist at Escorts Heart Institute, "as physiologically, the body has a child-bearing capacity which should be optimised."

Whatever the decision, it's the 'little' joys that make up life!

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