Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Vows

" be true to good times and in sickness and in health...I will love and honor you all the days of my life..."

She pressed a button on the remote and the screen froze. She did not have time to indulge in movies now. A lot needed to be done. Her gaze swept the room she was in. The bed sheets were rumpled and crushed. The pillows lay on the floor, which itself was strewn with a variety of articles ranging from safety pins and clips to empty packets and unwashed glasses. There was a mound of clothes overflowing from the clothes hamper. She sighed. It would be a long time before she would be able to lie down on the bed with her chores all done.
Her mind went back to a month ago. They had brought both the families to a truce. It was a hard fight but they had somehow managed it. The story was not very unusual. Her father was dead against the match and his mother too was not willing to have a non-khatri daughter-in-law thrust upon her. 'After all, my son is an MBA grad.' she would say proudly. The love story and the battle to get together was almost every Indian couple's story these days. Both of them had left no stone unturned in saving their four-year-long relationship. They had used trick and truth, hook and crook, peace and war; whatever they could to make sure that they would be united in matrimony.
It had been a mere few weeks since they had exchanged thick rose garlands and taken seven rounds of the holy fire. Now as she sat, waiting for her lover-turned-husband, who was currently on a call in the next room, she wondered whether she had taken the right decision. How could she know whether he was the right man? What if her parents had been right about ‘today’s men who turned rogue after marriage’? What if she started feeling lonely? She certainly felt so now as the mountain of household chores loomed large in front of her.
As her thoughts threatened to sabotage her work, she decided to snap out of the stupid vortex of her disturbing theories and resolved to get some work done. The rooms had to be dusted, food cooked and a truck full of clothes had to be washed, the white ones separately. She huffed. As she emptied the laundry basket, a voice boomed from the screen. 
" be true to you..." 
Her husband had switched on the movie and was walking towards her now. 
"In good times and in sickness and in health..."
He paused the movie and started speaking, his face turned up in a smile, "In the house and the cooking and the the washing and the sweeping..."
Now he resumed play. "I will love and honor you all the days of my life..."
The actor finished the line and he pressed the pause button again. She giggled as he picked up the dirty laundry and started segregating them into piles.
"Come on, leave them, I will manage..." she said. He picked up a large stack of clothes and took it with him to the washing machine. He undid the band fastening the packet of Ariel washing powder and sprinkled some all over the dirty clothes. She had followed him and now, she asked, "Hey..what is with all this?"
He looked at her with a smile,"What is what?"
She giggled and said,"Why are you being Mr. Cleaner? Trying to wash the clothes and all?"
"Oh it's simple. Didn't you hear the vows? I am just sharing the load, sweetie."
Saying so, he kissed her. She knew now that she had taken the right decision. She would never feel lonely or burdened. They were both in this together.

I am writing for the #ShareTheLoad activity at in association with Ariel.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Pigeonhole Principle

Sundays are for reposing, relaxing, reveling, rejuvenation and for many other such –ings and -tions (that may not start with R). This Sunday of mine was spent in a pigeon ouster expedition. Do you know the pigeonhole principle?  It goes like this…
If n pigeons are put into m holes, with n > m, then at least one hole must contain more than one pigeon. I think the pigeons knew it too. Because we had started experiencing a hellish time with these birds of pray-tell-me-why-are-you-so-numerous. Some wily ones had managed to find such a hole in our verandah, where not one but more than one had cosied themselves. But we didn’t realize it at first. Every day, when the residents of No.XX including I returned from work and went out into the balcony to take in a breath of fresh air or hang up some clothes, a cacophony would be raised and a flock of feathers would try and fly to escape detection, strewing pebbles, little sticks and cement detritus all over the verandah in the process. My mom would shoo them away and set down to clean away the mess, only for the wretched pigeons to come and upset her efforts all over again. It would have gone on ad infinitum if not for this Sunday when my mom decided to amass an army of her own and give them a tough fight. She presented to the pigeon family her commander-in-chief, her best warrior alias my dad to defeat them in the battle of the pigeonhole. My brother stood next in command, handing dad the ammo, as he reached up to the hole on the ladder and swept away the nest that had been carefully put together by the parent pigeons. Dad ordered for a plastic polybag to be brought and the pigeon eggs were placed carefully in it, which was then handed over to my bro, who took it up to the roof (we do not take prisoners-of-war, so the eggs were kept aside; we are peace-loving denizens who however, do not brook invasion). My brother is young and not so well-versed in the military strategies, so one of the eggs broke on the way to the roof. Whether this fact was espied by the enemy force or not, I can’t say but they put up an admirable fight, what with all the flapping and fluttering. The canopy of fallen feathers befuddled the army of flat no. XX who retaliated with equal vigor as dad vigorously swiped away the wrecks of their nests and bro kept the flapping at bay with occasional shouts while my mother, the mastermind behind the battle stood with her hands on her hips, her fiery furry weapon (the broom) by her side. After some wrangling and hard work, the battle was finally over, the army bathed in feathers and debris.  Mom and dad exchanged sighs of relief and glances of victory. I sighed. What was my role in all this? I stayed inside, peering through the window, pleading and asking them if we couldn’t leave the cute birds alone?

“I will let the nest be if you promise to clean this mess every day. Will you?” asked my mom, while brandishing her favourite weapon, the oft-advertised jhadoo. Of course, I couldn’t. Cleaning gave me the cramps, mostly as an excuse and sometimes, literally as well. So, the nest had to go and the pigeonhole battle was won by the army of flat no. XX. After the battlefield had been cleared of the rubble, I tiptoed out, avoiding the remains of the nest packed in a polybag kept by the side of the wall, and looked at the line of pigeons perched on the electricity wires. I was sure they were planning a counter attack; some of them would probably strike back immediately, perhaps with another guerrilla strategy or some rudimentary approach (for instance the beaks) and some might start rehabilitation right away. I looked at them with a glance that tried to say I wasn’t in on this; I am neutral. I am Switzerland, leave me out. Just then a pigeon swarmed over my head, fluttering its wings and I ran inside, to claim my shelter with the residents of flat no. XX.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Out for Everyone to See

I was walking in a common street with common friends on a common day and I came across what I would love to call an uncommon sight but which was sadly as common as the rest of the instances above. I saw a string of guys with their backs to us, each separated by a few paces sharing their moments not over a cup of tea but over a bout of pee. I instantly averted my eyes, my mind off the delightful topic of desserts that we were discussing and on something ridiculous and eww-worthy.
“Aren’t there any urinals around?” I asked one of my buddies.
“Oh come on Queen Elizabeth! Where are you coming from? England?” And my friends guffawed, making me look like a prude, as if public micturition was something like eating in public or probably sneezing. I felt like I was out of the loop or out of fashion behaving like snooty high-end people who snort at people spitting or throwing trash on the road. Obviously there are dustbins around and there are urinals around. But the dustbins are so inconspicuous and so well-hidden one might feel as if they are a part of some treasure hunt. The urinals on the other hand are so highly maintained that even dogs deign to visit them. What with the stench killing one’s senses, filth covering the urinals which are otherwise abandoned and dirty, one would eject more out of one’s body than only what one came to excrete. So, it is not at all uncommon to see people following the dictates of their organs every now and then. Not that they follow every dictate of every organ. For instance, the pleadings of the belly go unheeded as we gorge on fast and furious food of all shapes and sizes from all places and corners. So do the entreaties of the lungs as some of us try to smoke them out of their job. But the kidney is a very important organ and we place it on a pedestal, swatting away etiquette and civic sense at its every beck and call.  
Although it is de rigueur for people to excuse themselves when they sneeze or burp, it is not a big deal if they release their bladder tension in the midst of a road. I wonder that if women are found doing the same (I guess its common enough), they might run the risk of getting assaulted. Remember the Badaun rape case?
I looked back at the men, unable to extricate my eyes from that horrible line of people facing the poor wall which had to bear the brunt. I thought about confronting them. That would probably deter them or make them feel ashamed but the thought of ‘being assaulted’ assaulted me and I backed out. I don’t know if it was my mindset or the people themselves but I had a feeling that being men, they could strike back perhaps.
It was queer that I was feeling ashamed and not them. I felt like averting my gaze but they didn’t think it important to curb their actions. In fact, it wouldn’t be weird to find a lady coaxing her son to relieve himself on the road as it is bad to keep it in (better out than in). On the other hand, the daughter would be taught to protect her modesty and contain herself. I am actually perplexed as to what I am really against- the concept of public urination and indifference of people to civic rules or the fact that women relieving themselves in public would invite jeers and fears of rape whereas men could do as they liked.
As I watched them (I still had my eyes glued to them even as my friends had gone ahead), I found them sharing a certain comradeship like that of guys peeing together, in a single line, like brothers or something. I don’t know how they saw their actions-watering the wild plants, doing community service or just using ‘public facilities’ (in this case, road corners). I wanted to take a picture of them but then I thought no one would be interested. It’s the commonest thing in the city after sparrows and pigeons, which, though, are becoming less common with each passing day.