There is no woman in sight. If a man stands in the middle of a forest and says something, is he still wrong? [A quote I borrowed from a speaker in TED.com who in turn took it off a T-shirt which passed him on the street.]
The wife is always right. Chitra reminds Arun every day without fail.
She may forget to take her pills. She might even forget the curry on the burner. But she will always remember this. Arun suspects she is downloading the FBI’s advanced brainwashing techniques and testing it on Arun. How did she get it? I have no clue! Maybe some women in the FBI are passing it around!
This is how a typical day in Arun’s life unfolds. Arun will be happily stretched in his recliner. He will be gazing at the flat-screen TV and absentmindedly flipping channels.
Chitra is in the kitchen cooking. After a while, Arun’s “insensitive” ears pick up a thud. Over the years, that thud has become more and more meaningful. It could mean, ‘I am sweating and cooking here and all you do is sit around doing nothing. Can’t you at least come and wash the dishes?’
Arun sits up straight in his recliner. The remote was forgotten by his side. The thud could also mean, “How many times do I have to tell you that I need more space in this kitchen.” This also means one of the so-called unbreakable plates would have been ‘accidentally’ dropped and broken. His legs slide off the cushions by now. What should he do now? Both the TV and Arun are now mute.
In the grand design of things, Arun thinks women architects have designed the kitchen to be always positioned right next to the living or family room. Why can’t kitchens be tucked away in the corner of the basement or attic?
Another thud, and Arun rushed to the kitchen. Chitra was busy stirring three pots on the stove. He sidled up to her and started rubbing her back. With her back turned to me, it looked like an excellent place to start negotiations. A sort of a hissssss escaped. Arun mistook it for the steam cooker. He should have taken the hint. He continued rubbing and reached up to massage her shoulders with both hands. That was the straw that sort of broke the camel’s back.
She turned around and swished her wooden spoon at me. A lump of brown mass from the spoon splattered right across Arun’s face, glasses, and shirt front. Arun was careful to maintain his frozen calm expression. They stood looking at each other, and she burst out laughing. That’s all it takes sometimes.
Later Arun asked her why she got mad. She said she was just irritated. She didn’t know why, and that made her more irritated.
Hello. Help me here!
Arun does not listen to her. She reminds him of that too.
Arun realized much later that he had married a talking machine in perpetual motion. For the first couple of years, Arun hung on to her every word. He suspected that he got fat-storing all her monologues in his heart, and then it overflowed to other parts of the body.
Arun learned to memorize the critical points of her speech. Sometimes she asked him what she said, and then he had to repeat it. However, over the years, he got tired of the whole thing and would just hum, haw, and say, “Yes, dear.”
Arun believes events and trends in life go around in cycles. Wise men say this. But he didn’t think it applied to him.
The attention syndrome reared its ugly head again. Arun had to be more careful now. His daily intake of food depended on this. If he kept quiet when she talked, she complained that he did not listen. If he hummed and hawed, she would want him to repeat word for word what she said. Sometimes when Arun asks,” What did you say, dear?” she would reply, “Ah, nothing. I was just talking to myself.”
At night she takes it up another notch. She talks in her sleep. By now, Arun knows that she is not pretending. Earlier it would annoy him to no end. Now he talks back to her. Sometimes even ask questions. To which she faithfully replies. So that is how the conversation goes. At night. Two-sided, and half asleep!
Man. Men never win! Men are always wrong! Just admit it. The wife is always right. It’s easier that way!
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