<%-- Page Title--%> Slice of Life <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 131 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

November 21, 2003

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Now You Love Me Now You Don't

Richa Jha

The telephone rang at the most inopportune time. I'd just settled in my couch to watch Just Shoot Me, when The Hubby's voice greets me from the other end of the line. Had he been in town, I would have asked him to call up later, but this call was being made from somewhere else.
“How was your flight”, I asked distractedly. Tele-conversations with The Hubby last a few seconds, at best, and such long distance ones, even fewer.

“Don't ask. Never again, I tell you”, he sounded agitated in an enervated sense (paradoxes are second nature to The Hubby).

“Why, what happened? Had a turbulent flight?”

“No, never again am I going to travel with a newly married man in the same car, in the same flight, to the same airport, to the same city. Never.”

This sounded like the conversation wouldn't end there, so
I politely asked him to call up half an hour later, “I'm in the middle of something, please?”

Hah?! I can sense several raised eyebrows, but let me explain. If I have to choose between a rib-tickling episode of JSM and a fretting husband…do you see now, the choice ain't all that complicated, and my preference not all that blasphemous. Besides, husbands are forever, these laughs so transient.

“No, just switch off the TV and listen to me”, so he knew it.
Reluctantly, I did so, and said, “so what happened?”
“How can a married couple be so coochy-cooyey? Look at us, we are so normal”. So we are. But we were not always like this! I wanted to remind him of his initial wedded years, but memory is so short lived, we forget.
Thus began his monologue.

“Phew, what a day! This morning in Dhaka, when I went to pick him up from his house”, (the 'him' being this colleague The Hubby was travelling with), “I realised to my horror that he was still not ready. All I could overhear from the other room was, “Honey, do I look better in this, or this?” and “you decide, I dress for you”, and “how will I dress up there without you”. I looked at my watch and lost it. “Uffo, do you mind wearing anything at all and hurrying up, we'll miss our flight”, I shouted from the lounge. Then he finally came out and just when I thought we were ready to leave, I noticed flooded eyes and overflowing emotions and a volley of “I'll miss you's”, and “do you really have to go?”, and so on. Once in the car, this glum lover soon realised he'd left his mobile at home. “It's alright, in any case, you'll not need it now”, I tried to reason with him. The next thing I know is, he politely asked for my mobile and dialled up home. “We've reached the railway-crossing now. Yes, yes, I'm alright. But missing you loads already. Don't worry, I'll eat the airline food, not a patch on your cooking though, but I'll eat it if you say so. You take care of yourself”. And so on. At the airport too, I could see him from a distance hugging the phone receiver tight at the local call booth. And that was not enough. Just before I switched off my cell onboard, he cooed his undying love to her that one last time from Dhaka”.

“But that's so cute, isn't it?”, I tried to tell The Hubby.

“How can a man think of his wife all the time? It beats me, wifey”.

“That's natural, they've been married for less than two months. You don't remember your days, do you? And come on, don't tell me you don't think of me all the time!” I protested and pointed in the colleague's defence. But counter-arguments rarely register in The Hubby's mind, so he carried on with his tirade.

“In the afternoon he pulled me to this mall, where all he did was lift the ladies tops and ask me, 'do you think this will fit her?' I said 'what would I know, she's your wife?', but he said, 'no, no, don't get me wrong here. You've been in the company of women much longer than I have'. 'One woman', I corrected him, and added, 'sorry to disappoint you buddy, but their dimensions don't match, so keep me out of it'”.

“This evening when I wanted him to accompany me to a night club, he refused. 'I can't do this to her', he said. 'Do what?', I protested. 'No, no, night clubs and all. I know what happens there.' By then I was at the end of my patience with him, but I still tried my best to explain to him that this club was not what he thought it was. To drive home my point I even mentioned that you and I went to this same club the last time we were here together, but he would have none of it. Annoyed, I left him in his room, and went out on my own. I can't take any more of it now. And today was just the first day.” “Relax dear, why don't you tell me what you managed to do on your own. Did you visit the Cathedral?”, I asked.

“No, didn't feel like. Remember what fun we had there last time? How could I go there without you?”

“And the botanical gardens?”

“No, no. I walked past it, felt really nostalgic, so didn't go
in. Really, it's not the same without you”, said The Hubby in what was decidedly the most romantic moment in recent years.

Amused, I fingered him, “hey, now you're sounding like your colleague, missing me and all that…”.

“Certainly not”, his tone stiffened as if having been jolted from his momentary lapse of reasoning! “I didn't say I missed you. I spoke about you not being there in a normal way”, said he, now on guard.

“Then what is so abnormal about your colleague?”

“You don't get it. He's acting so mushy. Almost as if he's with his college heart-throb, not his wife!”

Really, The Hubby never ceases to stump me with his amusing theories on life! Or was he merely re-iterating what our forefathers have been saying for centuries, ever since marriages got institutionalised: that nothing kills romance quicker than marriage! Or so The Hubby has certainly internalised.



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