If this ain’t love, baby…

“How do you know it’s love?”

This is a question I’d been pondering over since I was fifteen – how do I recognize the Real Thing when it happens?

I had a simple test. Anytime I liked someone, and I wasn’t sure where it was heading, I would close my eyes and imagine seeing him every day, day and night, for the rest of my life. Wake up next to him, have breakfast together, see him again at night, sleep with him, wake up again next to him, and so on and on for sixty years. That was usually enough to turn me off big time.

Until I met SR. For the first time in life, I felt it wouldn’t be so bad seeing this guy for the rest of my life. I even felt it might be fun. And boy, has it been fun!

This post is dedicated to you, SR. For being my sunshine. The anchor of my sanity. The very air I breathe.

10 things that tell me I am loved.

  1. The way I magically wake up in my bed every morning tucked under my comforter, no matter where I fall asleep the night before – on the couch, the armchair or the floor. I still don’t know when or how you manage to move 65 kilos of solid flesh across two rooms without the said body even stirring.
  2. The way you take the long way home just so that I can finish listening to a favorite song that’s playing on the car radio without it shutting off midway. And the way you listen to my vociferous, ungrateful rants about wasting petrol.
  3. The way you keep re-filling my hot water bottle and making me comfort food at all times of the day and night when I am sick, without ever registering protest through word, deed or expression.
  4. The way you quietly do all the little chores I hate without me having to ask – filling up the water purifier and stocking bottles and containers with provisions top the list. And yet, if I actually ask you to do a chore, the way you put it off as long as you possibly can…
  5. The way you never ever say no to anything I want – whether it was going all the way back to the Big Bazaar just to get me the top I liked but regretted not buying; or making the Archies store owner reopen his shutters at 10 in the night to get me the smiley doll. And letting me name him (the doll) Appy Hippie. Mallu fans of Boban & Molly comics would know this character quite well.
  6. The way you told me, “I can’t let you watch it alone if it’s the first time you’re watching it” and watched Valentine’s Day with me on Friday night. And hating it every minute. But not fiddling with your mobile even once.
  7. The way you listen to me repeat every anecdote from Agatha Christie’s autobiography without interrupting, even though you’ve heard it all a million times already. And how you buy me every book about Christie that anyone ever wrote.
  8. The way you always make me a “kutti dosai”; And a smiley face with ketchup and cheese spread on my omelet plate. And the way you bring it to me, eyes shining with pleasure.
  9. The way you set up elaborate Treasure Hunts and riddle games and send me chasing all around the building in search of clues. You can give Raj Koothrapalli a run for his money any day.
  10. The way you swear I am the most beautiful woman in the world, even when I know I look like something the cat dragged in. What points you lose for honesty you gain for loyalty.

I could go on and on, and never stop. That’s why I titled this list before I even started. Let me close by borrowing from the Bard of Avon.

Of all my loves this is the first and last
That in the autumn of my years has grown,
A secret fern, a violet in the grass,
A final leaf where all the rest are gone.

You are my sun and stars, my night, my day,
My autumn song, the altar at which I pray.
My seasons, summer, winter, my sweet spring, 

My land and ocean, and all that the earth can bring.

Would that I could give all and more, my life,
My love – eternal, endless and true…
Of glory and of sustenance, all that is divine,
My world and my thoughts, and all that was ever mine.

That’s enough mush for a Saturday afternoon. 🙂

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In sickness and in health(?)

It was the day of our wedding and SR had just tied the thaali around my neck. We gazed at each other – me adoringly, he bleary-eyed and sweaty. The first thing he said was,

“Can you ask Amma to get me some Crocin? I have a terrible headache.”

Yes, I love you too.

For the next 15 minutes, while he was repeating mantras with the vadhyar, I desperately tried to catch the eye of one of our many aunts or cousins, even while getting up and prostrating myself on the ground (in a nine-yard saree to boot!) for what seemed like a hundred times. Someone finally got him the pills and water and he managed to make it through the rest of the ceremony, by which time my neck was aching under the weight of all the garlands.

During the family get-together in the evening, while our relatives sang and danced and tried to make fun of us, we sat exhausted and brain-dead, joining in more out of politeness than anything else. To commemorate the occasion, SR’s sister and cousins decorated our bedroom. On the dresser, they left two sets of presents – a box of perfumes, and a box of medicines – along with a note:

“Perfumes or medicines? Make your choice! :)”

Needless to say, we picked the medicines and fell asleep at once. So much for the hype about “first nights” – to this day, when we watch a movie scene involving a first night, we look at each other and snort derisively.

The next morning, SR woke up with a raging fever and spots all over his body. That’s right – chicken pox.

We were both quarantined (in case I was also infected) for three weeks. Confined to a single room and bland food without salt and spices, scratching ourselves with neem leaves and alternating between sniping at each other and apologizing tearfully.

Two weeks later, when SR had recovered, I came down with it, and spent another two weeks in quarantine. SR escaped the second quarantine because his chances of getting it again were slim. And of course, there was no honeymoon.

That set the tone of our marriage. Headaches, backaches, flu, sinusitis, tummy upset, asthma… you name it, we’ve had it!

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I was at a medical store the other day,

“1 strip Pudin Hara. 15 regular Crocin. 15 Crocin Pain. 1 Volini cream. 1 Volini spray big. Vicks ke goli and 1 Dragon roll-on.”

When he gave me a “So much, madam?” look, I tried to save face,

“We are athletes – we just ran a marathon. That’s why.”

He looked doubtfully at our rotund figures, but refrained from commenting.

The biggest challenge we face is that each of us deals differently with sickness. SR likes to be coddled and made a fuss of if he is feeling down. But I like to be left alone to curl up and die. We used to drive each other crazy in the beginning.

When I try to sleep quietly in the dark, his worried face would appear at the door,

“Do you want anything?”

“No.”

“A hot water bottle? Green tea?”

“No, no.”

“How about some medicine? Will sitting up help?”

“No, just leave me alone!”

He would go away in a huff.

The opposite would happen when he fell sick. He would lie groaning in the hall, making outlandish requests every few minutes.

“Can you bring me some water? Yes, I know I said I didn’t want any, but now I do… if you must make such a fuss, don’t bother.. I don’t want anything now… alright then, give me the water…”

“Can you put some Volini on my back? Not there, a little to the right.. a tad bit to the left… Yes, yes, you got it… no, go up, yes, up… now a little down towards the spine… where the hell are you rubbing? That’s not the spot at all!”

“Turn off the light and put on the music… oh, anything you like.. no, no, not that… not that one either, can’t you put on something soothing and quiet? No, meditation music is not soothing or quiet.”

And so on and so forth.

Over the years, we’ve learned to manage this better. It is based on the principle that a sick person cannot be a ministering angel and offer sympathy. So we fall sick one at a time.

“I feel sniffly – I think I will come down with a cold today” SR would warn me as soon as he woke up.

“I ate from a shifty-looking place near the bus stand. So I may have indigestion later.” I would call from the office to give him a heads-up.

This way, we set clear expectations and give each other ample time to plan ahead. So, if SR sounds the warning, I try to keep the rest of the day free to look after him. And if I sound the warning, he makes plans to stay far away. So far, this has worked pretty well.

Thus, we continue to have and to hold each other – for better or worse, in sickness and in health(?)

Excuses, excuses!

So I leave a to-do list for SR this morning. Most of the items on it have been pending for ages, and I threaten him with tight spots, hot water, fire & brimstone, so on and so forth before I leave for work. When he comes to pick me up in the evening, he makes no attempt to ingratiate himself. I assume that the most of the work has been accomplished.

“Did you give the clothes for ironing?”

“No – I wasn’t sure if one of your tops should be ironed. So I thought I’d check with you before giving it.”

“You could have given the rest of the clothes – we have hundreds of them piled up!”

“I don’t want to make multiple trips there.”

“Why didn’t you just call me and check?”

“Because I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Huh! So did you call the carpenter?”

“Yes, but he didn’t answer the phone.”

“Well, did you leave a message asking him to call back?”

“No. I don’t think he can read or write.”

“Ok-aaay! What about the electrician?”

“I don’t think he can read or write either.”

“No – did you call him?”

“Yes. He’ll come over.”

“When?”

“On Sunday, after he goes to church.”

“Church? I thought the electrician’s name was Krishnan!”

“It is. Don’t be so narrow-minded.”

“Whaaa…? “

“What does it matter what his name is? This is supposed to be a secular country – he can call himself whatever he wants and worship any god he likes. Neither you nor the government has any right to dictate terms-“

“Okay, okay! Let him go to church. <whew!> Did you pack away the golu bommais? I don’t want them getting dusty or broken.”

“Today is Tuesday – it’s not auspicious to pack away idols of deities on Tuesdays.”

“What a load of tosh! Says who?”

“Your mom.”

“Erm, okay. Did you at least pay the phone bill?”

“No point. We are 2 months overdue. They’ve disconnected the line.”

“And you are just sitting there?”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Go over there and get it fixed!”

“Go over where?”

“I don’t know! The BSNL office?”

“And where would that be?”

“You are the husband – you figure it out!”

“Sure, I will. Eventually.”

“!!!”

“But I did get the cable fixed.”

“Our cable had problems? What was wrong with it?”

“There was an audio lag on Star Sports – it was really screwing up the match telecast.”

“Awesome. That was the most important thing on my list – I would have killed you if you hadn’t done that.”

“Thanks love.”

*

I am assuming that spending 8 hours a day to think of excuses to not do things must be exhausting. Clearly, it impairs your ability to appreciate sarcasm.

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