I’m not targeting that husband who appreciates his wife indulging in a conversation with his friends (and their wives) and offers the brilliant idea of ordering food or restaurant hopping, when he senses she’d rather laugh than sweat. I’m targeting that husband who appreciates his wife floating into the darkness of their bedroom or kitchen the moment his friends arrive, nodding sweetly and quietly, while waiting for the cue to serve the next dish.
Last Friday, Mylo and I carpooled with his colleague on our way back from work. Mylo had related funny anecdotes of this colleague and I imagined it to be a laugh-till-a-little-pee-comes-out drive. They pick me up and I’m all nice and asking him questions and waiting for a witty reply and he gives me drab responses. I figured he must be uncomfortable showing his funny side as it was the first time we had met – so I make an effort talking family and asking about his kid’s chickenpox. Again nothing funny. Then, he starts talking work totally ignoring me. Now, Mylo is usually a kind man and is aware of his surroundings, and I’d always thought that’s why I married him. But no, he dives straight into technical jargons and I feel like puking in the back seat.
Finally, as we near home, Mr.Colleague asks, “So will you be going home and cooking?” and angles his neck towards me.
(It’s 8:45pm, take a wild guess Mister. I know your perfect wife is waiting with that hot dinner, but we don’t care, and that includes my husband, coz he cares for me and understands that I can’t be possibly cooking now, and so he himself will tell me to take rest and will order food in. Hah! And oh, by the way, now you have something to converse with me? And that too, about cooking?!) I stare out of the window as if I hadn’t heard.
Mylo realizes my silence and says hesitantly, “Well….., today……. we might be eating outsaaaaaaide…….”
“Oh you mean today too?”
By the way, did I mention this colleague is a malayalee? I have to, coz there’s an add-on smirk to every question and answer from my countrymen. It dates back even to their board exam answer sheets, like “Yeah right, you think I’ll answer that! Be glad at least I came. OK? OK.” Also, my countrymen judge, and if you know this, the perspective of any of their responses will never stupefy you again. And when they marry, they judge more and smirk more as if they have or expect to have perfect wives who ‘listen’ to them, ‘obey’ them, and who know they don’t ‘need’ to participate when ‘men’ are talking.
But I still believed my malayalee countryman, my husband, was different, until he responded.
“Well, you know, it’s just the two of us..so…we…kinda…you know…do our own thing….”
Why in the world was he sounding apologetic?!
Anyway, to which Mr.Colleague responds in silence. Silence. If he had laughed, I’d have added something witty, but he didn’t, and I knew what that ‘silence‘ meant. He had judged me. Not Mylo and me, just me. Coz malayalee men are one brotherhood and they believe their wants and needs rise from a common spring and any painful ripple that disturbs its tranquility creates a telepathic bond of empathy, far more powerful than a woman’s intuition.
In that instant, in the back seat of that car, I had become a disqualified wife flagged for contamination. I knew he’d never invite us home or let his wife meet me ever.
That night Mylo went to bed dinner-less and I finished our stock of chocolate cream biscuits. Vindication of the rights of women. Hah Ennoda!