She slipped her card quietly into the back pocket of my jeans while I tried to convince the guy at the McDonald’s counter, that we won’t have any of their Mc Shakes, rather just a diet coke. When I reached out for my wallet, it took no time for me to understand her gesture. I turned to her with a blank face. She was biting her lower lip. “It’s on me tonight,” she whispered, her eyes glued to the menu board hung overhead though her face was still turned towards me.
I used to make 25% more than my wife. She now makes 30% more than I do. Despite making 23.07% less than her, I pay all the bills. Every single one! I was happy as I was able to make the ends meet until the day when loan rates increased and the mortgage installments of our flat and the car shot up. The leftover crumbs in my back account weren’t enough to manage the additional expenses. The anticipated peanut in my next salary hike was also a decade away and the annual bonus had died its own death during the last appraisal.
The desire to maintain our contemporary lifestyle and give a decent life to our new family member, expected in about seven months, started to give me sleepless nights. After a couple of such nights, I realised, finding a new job in this uncertain market won’t be easy. Supplementing with some freelance work was also not an option as I was sharing some of the household chores due to her morning sickness and evening cramps and these kept me occupied. I finally figured it out – it was time for “the” talk.
But how to start “the” talk? Should I use a post-it, drop her an e-mail or “talk” over the vodka? Oh no! She wasn’t drinking anymore? How about waking her up in the middle of the night and talking her through it? Although we had an awesome relationship and have shared even the most bizarre thoughts with each other, I wasn’t able to figure this one out. Why was I shying away from this discussion? I woke her up one night.
“Is the house on fire?” She seemed a bit puzzled. Before I could come up with an apt response, she probed again – “Is the house on …?” The words trailed off as she slipped back into her slumber.
The mortgage auto-debit day soon arrived and it coincided with the deposit of my salary in my account and I was yet to figure out a way to finish “the” talk. I had sufficient funds to pay off the revised mortgage amount but survival after the middle of the month would become questionable. That meant, I still had 15 more days for “the” talk.
At 11.30 a.m., I checked my mobile to find SMSs from my bank. I didn’t open them as I knew the details. I chose to open an SMS about the residual crumbs in my account. To my surprise, a big piece of the cake was still left. I was happy, confused, worried, suspicious and finally horrified. I thought that there was some goof-up by my bank. Which meant that I would have to pay two months’ worth of dues the next month as the bank would eventually realise its mistake. I didn’t want that and decided to call up my relationship manager and enquire, only to find out that the remaining half of the installments had started to auto-debit from my wife’s bank account on her request.
Later in the evening, when I reached home, she was done with her yoga and like she asks me every other day, she did so that day as well, “Want some coffee?”