As someone said, marriages are made in heaven but so are thunder and lightning. After initial euphoria, marriages are often loud claps of thunder, angry flashes of lightning followed by spells of peace, “not the peace that passeth understanding” but an armed truce of sorts. Sometimes too long and ominous a peace is also the proverbial lull before the storm. You can feel the storm brewing, the telltale signs are there, the dark clouds on the fair brow the angry glint in the otherwise gentle eyes, the smile shaping into a scowl and the storm about to break. Tolerance begins to plunge like sugar levels with alarming velocity and of course, there’s always the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You never know anyone till you marry him.” Everybody is eminently lovable from a distance. The engaging smile, dripping charm, courteous gesture, where do they disappear in marriage? The fiancé who vowed he could not live without you because he has spread his dreams under your feet is certainly not your husband who says you have added years to his life. He is ready to blame you for anything that went wrong in the office or in Ukraine. But then the storm passes and marriage is back on its heels.
My husband reads the newspaper in front of the milk on the gas stove that he had blithely agreed to oversee. He doesn’t realise the milk has boiled several times over and the odour has climbed to the high-rises in the neighbourhood. But when something slightly overdone is placed on the table he asks icily, “Why burnt offerings? Am I one of the family gods?” Or when I ask him to eat a little more of the leftovers purely on considerations of thrift, he says, “Am I the corporation dustbin?” Forgetting my meticulously drawn shopping list he gets stuff unwanted and says sheepishly, “Well I think beyond lists”.
There are arguments galore and both of us have honed our skills so well there is no letting up or backing off. The sheer joy of words bandied back and forth. There often comes a point when we have totally lost track and end up with a mere Yes or No. I don’t know how but somewhere we switch sides, the idea being we should never be on the same side. In the end we are so befuddled that we mutually call it a day and reserve the fight for a more propitious moment. My husband tries to sing tunelessly Colonel Pickering’s “Why cant a woman be more like a man?”
But marriage isn’t all sparring. It has its finer moments of joy, love and empathy. As the morning of our lives draws into the twilight, memories highlight the good times and the bickering have succumbed to blissful amnesia. Remember the punchline, “tedha hai par mera hai”?