What do couples do when they are alone? I mean when the kids have grown up and flown the coop and they are left rattling like two peas in a pod?
- heave a sigh of relief and put their feet up for some much needed rest and respite.
- mope around, stifle their sniffles and spend the major part of their day reminiscing about their offspring.
- let their hair down, grab their valises and leave on that world cruise or back pack their way into the jungles and mountains.
- simply turn into two fighter cocks, glad to be able to fight in peace without worrying about their kids overhearing them and get insecure/scared/paranoid/etc.etc.
So which category do you think you/your parents belong to? It is not necessary to just belong to one. Some like the L&M and I have done all of the things given above and then some, before settling down to a routine of Eat, Sleep, watch (TV) and fight. They are all interconnected and we often fight about two or more things at a time.
There are any number of studies that have found that men the world over — cutting across cultures and countries — are addicted to news and sports on TV. You guys already know the vice grip that the idiot box has on the members of the L&M’s household. Thankfully, it has not got a hold on the Long Suffering Lady (LSL) yet.
Sometimes, it does not require the kids to leave home before this routine sets in. All it needs is for couples to grow older and feel comfortable in each other’s company. Though if you hear them fight, it wouldn’t seem so! I have observed my parents and parents-in-law fighting like kids over trivial things, all concerned with the very same things. My parents didn’t watch TV, at least mother didn’t, so that didn’t form a part of the fights. But with my in-laws it used to be non-stop argument/fight when they watched TV. They both loved cricket matches and that was where the fights started. They would go on so heatedly that it would become more entertaining to watch and listen to them than the match and the commentary!
Coming back to the L&M and the LSL, what exactly do they bicker about? For one, over eating: They eat at different times. The former eats an early lunch/dinner and the latter eats at half past noon. When she comes with her plate to the living room he is watching one of the news channels with the anchor hyperventilating about something monumentally silly for her brain to even register.
‘Didn’t you watch this debate last night?’
‘I missed some of the portions.’ This, said accusingly because that was when I had come in with my dinner and insisted on changing the channels. I simply can’t bear these mind-numbing debates and don’t know what he finds interesting in them.
‘Can we watch something else?’ I ask with exaggerated politeness.
‘I know, you’d want to watch one of the cookery shows! As if you cook anything that is shown on them.’ The was last added under his breath but the LSL’s poor eyesight is amply made up by her extra sharp hearing.
‘As if you will eat when I make them,’ I shoot back. Actually, more than the love for the show, they simply coincide with my meal times and I end up watching them willy-nilly for want of anything else. But I am not about to acknowledge the fact to the L&M.
‘First make something and then talk!’ he snaps.
‘Oho! So I never make anything new? What about the time I made the gatte ki subzi and you didn’t like it? And the time….’
‘There was no vegetable in gate ki subzi!’ he cuts me off quickly. The fact is, he never likes anything out of the ordinary, unless it is is solely made of vegetables. Unwilling to let go of my advantage, I go for the giant kill: ‘All you like are kootu (vegetables cooked with moong/arhar dal and spices) and boiled subzi and a cucumber raita – everyday! Hmph…..Let me tell you, I am tired of cooking the same things even if you are not tired of eating them.’ He not only eats kootu, but would eat lauki (bottle gourd) kootu every day of the week, month and year. Bah! And after years of making it, I can’t stand its sight.
Sometimes the squabble over eating goes along different lines:
‘What happened to the murukku I had bought the other day?’
‘I ate it.’
‘All of it? I didn’t eat even one piece!’
‘It was there for so long (I can swear I bought a whole packet only yesterday). Why didn’t you eat it?’
Now folks, I have to eat in competition with him if I have to get my share at all, or hide some of it because I can’t compete with him. The problem with the latter option is that I forget where I hid it and he is an expert at searching!
By now I have finished eating and before the channel goes back to news, I want to see what movies are on.
I find A dry White Season playing on one channel and settle down to watch it taking the remote with me to the kitchen to prevent him from changing the channel. Despite himself, the L&M is interested and joins me. Peace reigns for the duration of the movie, which has just started. Our love for movies is already known to my dear readers. But there has been one change. Gone is my tolerance for action movies and thrillers which I used to be cajoled and tricked into watching (and which I tried my best to enjoy being love -struck during the early years of marriage).
These days I watch children’s movies or comedies and some serious movies like A dry white season, Rabbit-proof Fence, Mississippi Burning, Cry the beloved Country, Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Though the L&M continues watching the genres he watched when he was younger and has added horror to the repertoire, he also likes the LSL’s choice and so they companionably watch the movie, with him making tea half way through so that she does not miss any scene.
Don’t you go thinking that it is all peaceful thereafter. It is night time and there is a scramble for the LSL to turn in before the L&M. She is legendary for sleeping through earthquakes (two of them in recent times) if they happen in the first couple of hours after her sleeping. So what could mere snoring of the L&M do to disturb her? But on the nights he goes to bed before her, there is a battle the next morning.
‘I couldn’t sleep till 1 AM with you snoring loud enough to scare burglars away from the entire locality. Can’t you be a little quieter at least now?’ I yell.
‘So why didn’t you wake me up?’
‘How many times do I wake you up?’ I didn’t tell him that I didn’t have the heart to wake him up after a couple of times because he was sleeping so soundly. I had already lost my sleep. So what was the point in waking him up too?
‘From today I will wait till you sleep, ok?’ he pacifies me before going off for his morning walk.
I grumpily go into the kitchen to make tea and am greeted by a cup of it, still hot enough! I feel sorry for grudging his sleep and yelling at his noisy early morning doings – he was just making my morning cuppa, ginger and all, even though he hates grating the said root.
When he gets back from his walk, we begin on another topic — the vegetables he has bought. Some of them don’t lend themselves to being made into kootu, of course and the news is greeted by a woebegone face. And from there we merrily go from one quarrel to the other as we get through the day and it is time for the sleep fight….Of course we do our work too, but take care to do it around the main activity — of fighting!
Who said, life becomes listless and dull after the kids leave home? If anything, it becomes even more colourful and ‘interesting’, the boring menu of kootu, subzi and raita notwithstanding. The habit is so ingrained that when the Brats are visiting, they have a whale of a time watching their beloved parents quarrelling like kids, much the same way we watched ours. This time, even the little one asked in bewilderment, ‘Why are you and Thatha fighting, Paati?’
Do you have similar tales of fight-and-tell?