Prakash Raj is a close friend of mine who lives in Delhi. This is his story – of how group dynamics in a married man’s house has affected his life. This Saturday, we met up at the Barista in DLF Mega Mall in Gurgaon. He had called on Friday and said: “Jammy, don`t you project yourself as a specialist in man-woman relationships?”
“I never did!” I protested. But my friend wouldn`t listen and fixed a 12 noon meeting at DLF Mega Mall. Easing into the soft, brown cushion at the Barista, he said: “You are lucky, your mother doesn`t stay with you.”
“Why? What happened?”
My longtime friend detailed out an average day in his life. Apparently, his mother and his wife were having trouble adjusting.
Here is his narration, in his words
If my mother and wife have had a fight, I will know by 7.00 p.m. itself. Both my mother and my wife will call me at office and check when I will be home. Armed with the knowledge that the night was going to be stressful and long, I will enter the house by 9 p.m..
If my mother managed to open the door for me, my wife will be at an arms distance to get my laptop bag. If my mother kept my shoes in the newly bought shoe-rack, my wife will bring me the towel and ask to freshen up.
Finding a reason to enter the house, I will look up at my father for some support. With an Economic Times and a TV in front of him, he will just shrug and go back to the distractions. I know what his shrug means: “Buddy, I managed it in my time, now it is your turn.” So wouldn`t disturb him and move to the washroom to freshen up.
If my wife managed to hand me a washed T-shirt outside the washroom, my mother will manage to shout: “The dinner is served!”
At the dinner table, the silences will be long and the sentences short. The utensils will be a lot noisier than normal days. The decibel levels will give me an idea of the magnitude of the fight. On normal days, the ladle will not hit the plate while the rice or dal is served but on the fight-days the ladles will make their presence felt.
“So, how was your day?” My wife will ask.
Since, I know my response to this question can break my family into two I will just say: “It was fine.”
If I said that my day was great, my wife would fall into a chasm of self-pity and solving the fight will become that much more difficult.
“So, what did you do the whole day?” My mother will ask trying to prove a point that her son is more responsive to her questions. Now, even if I wanted to give a detailed answer I can`t because then my wife will be upset. So I just say: “Nothing much!”
Since my wife is a Malayali (she hails from Kerala), she doesn`t understand Tamil mother starts conversing in Tamil at the dinning table. Being the good husband I am I respond in a neutral language, lest my wife thinks I am conspiring against her.
I look at my father again – seeking advice. The intelligent man that he is, he will just bury his face in his plate.
The dinner will be a disaster. Since both the queens in my life are pre-occupied, they forget to bring to the dining table two of the dishes that were prepared for the evening. The situation worsens if both the dishes were prepared by one individual, for a conspiracy theory is attached to the miss.
When the dinner ends, my mother tries to prolong my stay outside the bedroom by offering ice-cream, fruits, Dabur Chyawanprash etc. If I indulge in these after-dinner-activities, my wife starts hinting me to reach the bedroom soon. She lets out statements like, “I am sleepy,” “Your favourite TV show in on now,” etc. Not willing to upset either of them, I take a spoon full of Dabur Chyawanprash and rush to the bedroom.
Once inside the bedroom, I stare at the TV (and think on how best to tackle my wife). Meanwhile, my wife sits before the dressing mirror and sulks. She sulks so much that I am forced to ask: “Why what happened?”
Even before I finish my question, I realize that I have opened the dam. My wife starts crying and explains how my mother is actually a witch that both my father and I haven`t been able to spot in the last 30 years.
I console her. I tell her that my mother is indeed a bad woman and needs to be controlled with an iron hand. My wife is initially doubts that I am on her side but with some persuasion she is made to believe that I hate my mother. Happy in the belief that she has managed to convince me, she sleeps peacefully. I sleep peacefully too.
The next day while wearing my shoes, I wink at my wife and utter: “Which is bad?”
She glances at my mother from the corner of her eye, then turns towards me and says, “Yes, witch is bad.”
I look at my mother and ask, “Which is bad?”
My mother says, “The blue one.”
I dump the blue socks and wear the black one, as my mother suggests. On my way out, I whisper into my mother`s ears: “I know you guys fought last evening. But I trust you. See even for my socks I still consult you.”
As I start the car, I hear noises in the balcony of my house. In my rear view mirror I see them holding each other by their unkempt hair. They sure love each other`s company.
* * * * * * * * *
I didn`t know what to advice the friend. After all, he was managing the situation pretty well himself. Besides, these are the group dynamics in every married man’s house.