We have been married for over three years now. For our engagement, I got a copy of Amir Khurso’s In the Bazaar of Love. Thereafter, till we got married, I would often get texts that seem to come straight out of a teen’s diary of being in love. I responded in a similar way.
Post marriage, the texts disappeared. The first birthday after marriage, I got a copy of Vikas Khanna’s Flavors First. No love poetry this, but a recipe book, albeit with pretty photographs.
Was this a sign? Because our texts to each other now read something on these lines, “Do you need anything? I can get them on my way back home.” “Baby, will you check the expiry date on the milk can?”
The other day, I turned to him and said, “You know what? The best lines you say to me now aren’t I love you. They are ‘There are enough leftovers in the fridge for today’s meal’ and ‘Prerna, I am cooking today.’” I realised, that the first one was even sweeter because it meant that since there was no cooking to be done, there wouldn’t be any washing up to do either.
Has our love disappeared in the business of trying to eke out a living, running a home together and missing both, the maid and the dishwasher?
It may seem so, especially to those who are recently engaged or dating each other. And yet to those who are married, it will be a familiar story. They will tell you, that the love hasn’t disappeared, it has only transformed. The ‘I love you’ isn’t said, but done.
It is done in the way a husband tanks up his wife’s car so that she doesn’t have to go to a petrol pump first thing Monday morning. It is ‘said’ by the wife who pins the post-it for the constipated husband on the fridge with the words “Remember to eat the figs with the cereal. They do lovely things for the tummy.”
I realised we weren’t alone in this situation when I judged the ‘I haven’t told you so but I have noticed…’ contest. We got an overwhelming amount of entries. The contest was all about giving an opportunity to couples – married, dating, living in, to put in words, things that they notice but never say it aloud.
Almost all the couples talked about how the I love you has given way to things, gestures, walking the love talk so to speak. One woman wrote about how her husband always makes sure that he carries a tablet to help her cope with her nausea when they travel. A man wrote about how his wife has switched over to having coffee because he likes coffee to be his first drink in the morning.
Since there were too many entries to read and sort out that day, I got very tied up. And so my husband came thrice to the tiny study where I was at work, twice with a cup of tea, and once with a slightly tangy, amateurish banana and blueberry smoothie.
And stood behind and glanced at the copy. “You know,” he says, “I do all this.”
“What,” I ask.
“I eat three-day-old dal so that you can get some extra time. One of the entries says her husband eats three-day-old chicken so that she gets a breather.”
“So, we still love each other. We just express it differently. I also got you flowers on Valentine’s Day but you said, you should never buy roses on that day, they are overpriced.”
“My dal never stays in the fridge for three days. And that bunch cost us £40 which is outrageous.”
We both laughed and went back to what we were doing. I worked a bit more on my copy. He made dinner. In the night, we both picked up our respective books: I, Holy Fools and he, Snow. There was some conversation, but no declarations of love. But like the countless other couples who are wedded in matrimony or living together, we knew that even though grocery lists, bills and milk cans seem to figure more in our texts, the love is still out there.