Our son Vidur was 4 years old.
He had just started school.

During one of his classes, he was to draw a picture of his family.

He came home to show it to my wife, Ruchi, and me.

The three of us were represented by stick figures.

And then I noticed something…

I had a phone in my hand.
I recall feeling like my heart pierced a million times, in that moment.
Because it was true.

I always had a phone in my hand.

I was at the peak of my startup grind.
It had taken us 9 months to pull off the management buyout of Groupon’s India business.
We were to become nearbuy in about a month.

It killed me, to realise that is how my son saw me.

Not holding his hand.
Instead holding a phone.

From that day onwards, I promised to wake up before Vidur does, wake him up and get him ready for school.
I might not be there when he goes to bed, but I want to be there when he starts his day.

From waking up at 7/8 am, I started to wake up at 6 am, in time for Vidur.
Slowly made it to 5 am. Today, it is 4:30/4:50 am.

He was the reason I built a morning routine.
I thank him for that.

The next 4 years at nearbuy were intense.
But Vidur’s family portrait drove me to find whatever balance I could.

COVID, while extremely difficult for many, served as a beautiful reminder for our family as to how much we value each other’s presence in our lives.
It changed us.

Today, I work from home.
As a family, we travel a lot.
We love each other’s company.
Vidur is 12 but still confides in us, treats us as a parent while still forming a friend-like bond.

I am glad that family portrait is in the past.

As much as your job is necessary, do not ignore the relationships where you remain irreplaceable.