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     Volume 4 Issue 29 | January 14, 2005 |

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Slice of Life

I Am,
Therefore I Am

Richa Jha

This week The Hubby was in a reflective mood. After much prodding, he said he'd been pondering over his life.

"I think I need a change," he said, "I think I've lived enough for others. Now I want to live for myself."

Even under sub-normal circumstances, I wouldn't have paid much attention to such abstract ruminations. But when it is said while watching a live cricket match on TV, it means that his mind has been jogging. The least I could have done was put my magazine down and look at him.

"It's tyrannical. I want to live life my way. And you'd better start getting used to my new way of living."

The menacing tone didn't portend well, so I thought it best to agree. It happens with the best of us at the best of times: when all is running smoothly, suddenly one moment we'll realise that one half of our lives is being spent trying to do things to please others. The other half is being spent cribbing that it is so. Perhaps The Hubby was going through one of those bouts of helpless self-loathing.

I said, "Yes dear. I'm afraid we have been overdoing our outside commitments. I can see you've had enough of socialising, enough of hanging around with friends in your free time, or creating free time for them, enough of relatives calling on at odd hours, enough of getting vague phone calls in the middle of the night. Yes, I agree. You've had enough of the world. Good thinking to live for ourselves, for once."

"I don't have a problem with friends, relatives and phone calls. It is at home that I want to live for myself. I, me, myself. That myself," he said emphatically. This sounded more serious than it had appeared at the outset, and certainly more serious than a temporary mulling-over exercise. The only other time he'd said anything to me with such emphasis was while admitting in college that I was the only woman in his life (besides his mother, he'd quickly added, but I forgave him for it- men usually falter like buffoons while professing their undying love to a woman. It is usually better with the second woman, but unfortunately he never got to better his skills after that).

"Tell me dear. What do you have in mind? We can do it together…"

"I want to live my life the way I want to…" I had rarely seen The Hubby this cut-and-dry.


"From now on, I will not let anyone rule my life. No one, you get it?" The way his eyes and words charged at me, I could sense that it was some kind of personal attack I was facing, and frankly, I didn't know how to handle it.

"Of course dear. You are quite right. Tell me, do you need some assistance from me?"

"Yes. Don't stop me from doing what I wish to. We'll both be happier for it. In fact, other women will soon start envying you for the kind of husband you have. I know now, I have proof. Women love retrosexual men."

"Love WHO?"

"You'll soon know wifey. I am the alpha retrosexual male; I've always had it in me, only now I can see it clearly. And you'd better start accepting me this way."

Heavens! Why do all crises in my life have to be over such bizarre matters?

"Explain please…"

The Hubby got up and returned with an internet print-out. It read, and here are the excerpts,

'We've had it up to here with Metrosexuals. Men who have embraced their female side can go take a hike. Tired of men's magazines that advocate peach face scrubs?

Relax. You're not a freak in a world full of men who tweeze. You're a Retrosexual: men who are not afraid to sweat, whose idea of grooming is a bath, and who scratch when they itch.

And guess what? Women love Retrosexuals. After all, a Retrosexual is the one who will fix a tyre without bothering that his hands will get dirty.

If you're Retrosexual, be assured of continued female attention and support...'

We are entitled to our views, and nothing in the article convinced me that I would ideally like to have a cave man for my life mate. But then, who was listening? (I would have equally detested living with this so-called metrosexual, but that's a different story.)

"Wifey, I've been introspecting on our years together, and have concluded with utmost certainty that you have always succeeded in curbing my maleness. Every time I have wanted to be myself, you have stifled me with your notions of aesthetics, appropriateness, politeness, and what not. But no more. A decade of living like a stranger to myself feels like a lifetime of prison term. I will not let it happen any longer." That was a sloppily-prepared speech, but this was no occasion for pointing out shortcomings.

Unpalatable as these allegations sounded, I wasn't even sure if any made sense. He was over reacting. Hormones, perhaps?

With the initial shock settling in, I knew I had to get to the bottom line quickly. It all boiled down to the rather selfish "So how do things change for me?"

"Ha ha." You should have been there to see him rub his hands in glee! "Wait and see. Retrosexuals don't answer questions they think can wait."

"The article doesn't say anything like that…" I remonstrated in vain. That was the most warped interpretation of the Written Word, though soon I'd have little choice but to start relishing the ominous uncertainty of this contentious issue.

"Okay. It's your life. Do as you please…" I resigned.

The Hubby has gone ahead and done just that. For the last three days, he's kept his hair basted in some (floral) aromatic magenta oil that his mother had handed to him on the eve of our wedding. The deodorants, shampoos and aftershaves have been thrown out; he's refused to bathe with warm water; he's switched from MTV to Betaar; and last observed, he was seen fiddling with a long-forgotten fountain pen. This morning, I saw him sealing three hand-written letters to his friends muttering unflattering words for the E-mail.

If you ask me, it's really not all that bad living with a retrosexual man. If only he would do something about the hair oil please…but it is still better than having to share my nail file with my husband. I thank my stars that he didn't swing the Metrosexual way.

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