These days, very often, I feel like a two-year-old, letting off loud wails as I am pinned down by four people and a fifth trying to empty a bottle of bitter medicine down my throat. A two-year-old possibly can’t read the label on the bottle, but I can: “Happy Married Life”. I can hear the person holding the bottle telling me: “Don’t fuss. Once you gulp it down you will be fine. It is for your own good.”
They had said the same when they made me a sacrificial lamb, dressing me up like a groom, five months ago. And who are these people, anyway? They don’t have individual names but collectively, they are called “society”. They had said my life would become stable, but I can see myself heading towards mental instability.
After 35 years of living like a compulsive vagabond, whose social responsibilities were confined to the triangle of I, Me and Myself, it isn’t easy at all to find a fourth dimension added to life. There are times when I am sitting at home, trying hard to write, when I am gripped by a sudden irritation: “What’s she doing here?” Then, after gathering my thoughts, I answer myself: “Oh, she’s my wife. She is going to be staying here too.”
That is, when I get to write. For years I have been a nocturnal writer, whose brain cells came alive only five hours after sunset, when I would switch on my laptop, stare at the screen for a while and start typing. These days, when I switch on the computer, the wife asks: “Are you going to blog or write for the paper?” When I say blog, I am given a look which says: “When will you get a life?” When I say I am going to write for the paper, the look that is given to me says: “Couldn’t you have written that in the office?”
The point is she never translates those looks into words; instead, she silently waits for me, with dinner and all, till I finish. Which makes me even more irritated. But then, irritation is not the solution, adjustment is. So of late, to begin with, I have cut down on my blogging. Wonder what next. Anything is fine as long as I don’t reach the other extreme: becoming hen-pecked. But the symptoms, to tell you the truth, point towards that.
The other night, after work, I went for a drink with a colleague who has been married for quite some time now. I have gone drinking with him on countless evenings, and most evenings, he would want to get home after a point. “She has prepared the food, I have to eat at home,” he would plead.
I would brush aside pleas with liquor-inspired wisdom: “You are a writer, a poet. You are an individual, not someone’s husband. Doesn’t matter if you don’t eat at home one night.” We would finally part close to midnight.
But the other night, we were barely into the second drink when I began looking at the watch. Wife had already called twice, first to ask: “Cabbage or cauliflower?” And then: "Rice or roti?" I rushed him through the third drink and, as we were walking towards the parking, we noticed a Malayali restaurant, Tharavad. “Let’s eat something,” the colleague said. “Not today,” I pleaded and hopped into my car.
The next day the colleague forwarded me a joke: A lion had thrown a party exclusively for lions. They were drinking and dancing when they spotted a mouse dancing too. The host lion roared: “Only lions are invited. How did you dare to come?” The mouse replied: “Before I got married, I was a lion too.”