Years ago when Mars One announced its plans of creating a settlement on the red planet and sending a select few earthlings to inhabit it, I asked a friend if he’d like to go. Now this friend’s love for science and exploration is renown among his family and friends. So I kind of knew the answer. But he is also a happily married man and father of two lovely girls. Hence I presumed there would be some hesitation in answering as this was no all-expense paid fancy holiday but a one-way trip to the unknown.
But I presumed wrong.
Almost instantly, the grown up man acquired a puppy face. The excitement and sparkle in his eyes left me with no doubt that in his imagination, the man was already packing his bags and looking for his passport, in case required. So I decided to turn up the dilemma. I then asked him, what if one of his daughters too decides to take her chances? How would he feel about letting go of his own flesh and blood, knowing that he’d never get to see her again? The excitement turned to exclamation. The realisation of loss finally hit home and the incredulous look said I was cruel for thinking that.
But then the path to glory was never known to be easy. It is a minefield of tough challenges and tougher choices. It asks for sacrifice and struggle. But more than anything else it makes you think if it’s worth it at all.
So when I read Mohammed Sallam’s story (read his interview) and his unmitigated desire to be one of the 24 men and women chosen to take that first flight to Mars, I wanted to talk to his wife to know how she really felt about her soulmate leaving her behind. Did she ever, even for a slightest moment, wish Mohammed’s dream did not come true? But it also made me wonder about love. What is it really? Is it about holding on to it and cherishing it or letting go? Easier said than done.