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Marital discourse

By Nickunj Malik - Dec 12,2018 - Last updated at Dec 12,2018

In my previous life, I found long married couples quite irritating. By previous life I mean the initial stages of my youth, when I was single and held strong and unshakable opinion about every aspect of existence. The main reason for my exasperation with the much-married lot was that if one of them started a story, the partner took it upon himself/herself to conclude it. In short, they completed each other’s sentences and the listener had to constantly switch attention from one individual to another. During the course of the narrative, that is.

If it were as easy as one starting the recounting with the other taking over smoothly, it would not be so distressing. That politeness was generally reserved for short directives like 

“Would you like tea?” asking one. “Or coffee?” adding the other. The problem arose with “You know what happened this morning as I was making tea,” saying one. “It was not this morning, it was Monday evening and you were not making tea, you were boiling milk for the coffee,” rectifying the other simultaneously. 

In a situation like this my heart would sink and I knew I was trapped for the entire duration of the disagreement. And however unbiased you tried to be; in the end you would be dragged invariably into other people’s war of words. 

When it was time for me to enter holy matrimony I was determined to not succumb to this temptation and would relate my own experiences, without interrupting spouse when he narrated his. Initially it worked wonderfully because we were not a part of each other’s childhood and came from completely diverse backgrounds. A decade or so later, a lot of our accounts merged as we went through similar occurrences. Despite that there was no quarrel in our narration because, well, I was a talker while my husband was a listener and gradually I became an expert at telling his side of the story too.

However, with the passage of time my memory began to fail and I could not remember the finer nuances of events. For example, if our car broke down in a particular place, I found it difficult to recall if it was on the way to a party or on the trip back. I started consulting my husband to provide the correct answer but he was not used to this kind of fact-check, so to speak and came up with monosyllabic responses. “To”, he would say and that was it. I could do whatever I wished with that bit of information.

Soon I decided that it was too much of an effort to reconfirm everything therefore if I did not remember the specifics, I let it pass. The stories still played in my head though, but I stopped vocalising them.

One week later a cyclone struck in my part of the world and the sky reverberated with thunder, lightening and torrential rain.

“I can’t hear you,” my friend was on the phone.

“What’s the eerie noise?” she questioned.

“That’s the sound of the hurricane,” I told her.

“Has been going on since six in the morning,” I added.

“It’s only a whirlwind,” my husband announced.

“And started at nine not six,” he stated.

“You were fast asleep. How would you know?” I said.

“Who put a bucket under the leaking roof?” he asked.

“It was a dustbin not a bucket,” I corrected.

“I get the picture! Bye,” sighed my friend, disconnecting the phone.

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