‘I can’t resist from protesting if I happen to notice anything out of order. Let it be within me or somewhere else,’ I said to my wife with a little displeasure that her kitchen slab top has got many a patches of dirt. Why can’t she get that cleaned properly after every use?
‘It’s none of your business,’ she said gruffly as if I have committed a crime. ‘It’s not new that you only see the things you want to see. How come you never praise the way I have kept the rest of house tidy and organized.’ Distorting her lips slightly and said that there was something wrong with me. ‘I have noticed something odd in the last couple of days!’
I said, ‘Nothing like that. It’s your misconception. Don’t beat around the bush to cover your mistakes. You used to spread over flour (corn or wheat) on the slab top for making dough or roti. It’s not hygienic and also there is a chance of getting infected with the harmful bacteria clustered on old dirt.’ No sooner I finished what I had to say, she jeered and repeated my last few words by making faces.
She then reminded me not to forget that her all twelve friends are dropping by for a monthly get together at 10 o’clock. ‘Since you know about this, why drag this silly issue unnecessarily at this early hour of the day?’ I turned mute with her stern repercussion. Without a pause, she continued mumbling about how it was already eight past fifteen and the amount of work that was yet to be completed. And how instead of helping her, I was trying to ruin her reputation etc. etc.
It would be pertinent to point out to the reader the purpose behind these monthly meetings on a particular day. Well, my wife and her twelve friends have a contributory lucky dip draw on the second Monday of every month. Each one of them take turns to play host on the stipulated day. They enjoy eating various types of appetizing homemade eatables; play some indoor games like tombola and the much cheered self-contributory lucky dip draw at the end of the evening. After someone wins the lucky draw, she has to invite the others for a get-together at her home the next month. Once someone wins; her lucky dip turn is over but she has to continue with her contribution until the last one in the group gets her draw. This time the turn goes to my wife.
‘I can understand, that since the house is big, it’s not easy to keep things neat and tidy without having any help. In her limited time schedule, she has to clean the house a little hastily, but it does not mean that, she should compromise with the hygiene,’ I thought to myself but I also knew that there was nothing I could do.
My bothered mind did not even allow me to eat my breakfast in peace. Instead of continuing this stupid verbal exchange, I decided to leave for office an hour early. My elders used to say, it is better to lose than to try for a win amongst our own kith and kin otherwise, a simple squabble may also lead to the worst outcome. Having reached my office much before time, I had to walk back and forth outside the office until the key orderly arrived to open it.
Although I had planned out work for the day, my mind was not in a very congenial state. It is also true that, I am not the tenacious kind who can’t be administered easily. The annoyance of a sensitive person does not remain for a substantial period of time. I started thinking deeply about her poignant state of mind! I felt that maybe she was not being able to focus on her work. I wanted to call her up. Strange, the pockets of my attire were void of the phone. I repeatedly searched here and there on my desk. Finally, it was confirmed that I had forgotten to bring my phone from home due to my disturbed mind. Looking at my doleful eyes, one of my colleagues offered his mobile. I took the handset quickly and dialled her number in one breath and said, ‘Hello darling, how is your preparation is going on?’
‘Hi, I was just about to dial your number,’ came the reply from the other end. How strange and touching the moment was, it seemed like she was normal as before or maybe she was hiding her emotions in front of her friends. Sometimes if positive spirits of same approaches transmit between two souls at a time then an imaginary line will connect both ends. We call it co-incidence.
‘I am sorry honey, and promise, I shall not hurt you anymore,’ I said intimately. ‘Had your breakfast?’ she enquired from the other end. ‘Everyone is appreciating your “Khaman Dhokla” and also asking its recipe. Thank you so very much for making me proud,’ she extended great adoration to me. ‘But, it was not me honey, I only assisted you,’ I tried pouring credit to her. We talked for a couple of moments until the owner of the phone waved his hand over my eyes. I threw him thoughtful of smile and handed over the phone with an unspoken word of thanks!
After getting his mobile back, Rohan came to my coop and dragged one of the chairs kept for my guests closer to my seat. He asked whether everything is alright. I said nothing except a small tussle with my wife which is over and settled.
Being Rohan, he found it difficult to believe my short and brief answer! He wanted me to be more elaborate, rather forced me to share. By the time, my self-afflicted mood turned to my customary state of mind and believed there is nothing which can’t be shared with my reliable friends although the spat was a little personal. Moreover, I thought, it might help someone find a pleasant way out from everyday conflicts.
I began to speak right from the beginning garnishing with my mixed emotions till the end. It was not known to me how my hardly audible voice became louder and noticeable. Soon I took my much needed long breath on the finishing line, claps echoed from different coops of the hall. Every one of them queried, ‘Who was telling the story? And whose story was it anyway?’ The words fluttered and flew in the wind. I got a little flustered when all eyes turned towards me, immediately after Rohan directed his fingers at me.
By Rabin Prasad Kalita