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

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 137 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 9, 2004

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Spaced Out

Richa Jha

Several years into our relationship, The Hubby suddenly decided to have some 'space' of his own. I'm not sure where it all came from, but in retrospect, it may have had something to do with a visit to a friend's house.

A few days after the visit The Hubby snuggled up to me, "Wifey, don't get me wrong here…but, I have been doing some, err…thinking lately", he said hesitantly.
"Which is?"
"Please don't misunderstand me…but, how do I put it? Don't you think we need to create some space for ourselves? You know? My personal space and your personal space, and if the child wants, he can have his too."

If this was some form of telepathy, glory be to the Lord for finally making The Hubby psychically sensitive. It was no coincidence that I had been thinking of the same thing, albeit, for slightly longer than that- actually, ever since we got married. But if I was delighted to hear the suggestion from him, I didn't show it. If you follow the advice given in the magazines for women of substance, you'll know that while such a suggestion coming from a woman is the pragmatic way of going about a relationship, the same coming from a man is tantamount to confessing his infidelity in veiled terms. My favourite Agony Aunt's advice for dealing with such a request is to give the man the space he's begging for, but also go find yourself a new man-friend. That 'squares' up the relationship. I like this magazine, I tell you.

"Okay, you shall have your space, only don't let me down. Can I trust you with it?" I said in a martyred tone.
"Don't you worry dear. I shall keep it very clean."

Whatever he meant by that, but to be honest, I had not seen these streaks of excitement in his eyes ever. I was certain there was someone else in his life. Well, good for them, as long as I had my space.

Next morning felt like the most unburdened morning of my life. I didn't have to make polite small talk with him about the previous night's cricket score, didn't have to sit out in the verandah sipping tea together when all I really wanted to do was to sleep in. Ah, I loved my space. That evening I planned a small get-together with all my friends he disliked. He was free that evening to go meet up with those among his friends I disliked. Getting our respective personal spaces also ensured that we didn't get into unnecessary arguments. For two days, with no 'we' and 'together' clause in our relationship, it felt SO perfect. I loved every minute of it!

However, The Hubby had been unusually quiet and restrained in these last two days. Perhaps it was too much freedom for him to handle. Marriage makes you dull and boring; you get so used to doing things together that you forget living life for yourself. Perhaps The Hubby was facing one such crisis. I tried to help by keeping two self-help books on 'dealing with excess of sudden personal space in a relationship' on his bedside table.

But it didn't help. The Hubby looked relentlessly woeful. Broken and wounded. And utterly miserable. On the third day after our pact, he rattled off nervously, "why have you stopped loving me suddenly? What happened to you? Overnight? Did I say something? What are you making me squirm for? You are doing everything to spite me, aren't you? You want me to say sorry?"

"But dear, I don't understand this. Didn't you say you needed some space?"
"I knew it", he suddenly said with a triumphant nod, "it had to be because of something I said…just ignore it sweetheart…".

As you can see, I had obviously got it all wrong. It later turned out that The Hubby wanted to have a little space of his own- a room to himself, for himself. Just like his friend had in his new house. Indeed, it had been silly of me to have imagined The Hubby capable of thinking any deeper than that!

A connoisseur of the finer things in life this friend, he has recently created a 144 square feet of physical space for himself- yes, all for himself in his new house. Set in seasoned mahogany with a cherry veneer, this small but cosy study is his world. It has drawers, blinds, a chess board, models of vintage Bentley sports car and another Edwardian one, cigar-trays, music, a well stocked bar and few books. The only thing missing is a 'no-entry' sign on the door aimed at keeping them noisy children and nagging wives (okay, he has only one) and complaining maid-servants at bay. Any man would fall for it. The Hubby wanted one for himself too.

So there I was. A weekend of reverie shattered, being sucked right back into a normal space-less relationship, trying to create an extra room in the already cramped house.

"Looks tight", I said to The Hubby, "I've shortlisted three possible spots. One's that defunct toilet, second is the dingy storeroom, third is the space below the staircase landing. You decide and let me know by evening." He didn't look too enthused by it.

"Also, hand me a list of all that you need moved in there. You have a free hand. The more you take away from the rooms, the cosier your study becomes, and the better it is for the house. It'll get some room to breathe."

"I have an idea…if you don't mind…how about the kiddy's room…"
"What! Impossible. What happens to his stuff?", I exploded.
"Calm down please. I didn't mean the entire room, just one half of it…", he implored like a five year old child.
I softened, but then, "that's a large room. One half is too much. Okay, I don't see why you can't have one fourth of it". The Hubby looked pleased. Good bargaining skills never put to better use!

A new screen partitions his part of the room from the kiddy's. The little one is too young to complain. Besides, the screen is too much of a play-thing for him. Fun is also watching the father set up his own favourite personal physical space. To think of it, I almost conjured up a square relationship from a linear one! Prospective man-friends may have to wait a little longer, I'm afraid.





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