We weren’t meant to end up together. Had it not been for Orkut, we could never re-found each other after years of hiatus.
We had nothing in common except for the fact that we both were socially awkward introverts. But as we worked our way through the dating phase to the marriage, our internal defences were eventually broken down and we could find peace in each other.
But marriage is a strange thing. It changes you, creates internal turbulence as you try to fit into the new avatar. But if the communion is worth holding on to, you learn to assimilate, accept that there is no ‘happily ever after’ and love harder when time gets tougher. I learnt that in the due process. In between the general struggles for a better future, constant moral policing in the new household, discovering the parts about myself I never knew existed and finding a piece of peace in the man I chose when life threw regular challenges, my husband became an eight year old boy.
We Bengalis are generally lazy people, and my husband took the cliché seriously once we moved out of my in-laws house. By day he is a hard working professional, a dutiful son, a responsible man, but once he goes to bed at night my job is to pet his hair till he goes to sleep. If I ignore this request or finish the petting faster than usual, he fusses and calls me up the next morning to wake him up by finishing last night’s pending job, even though he is up already.
Theoretically it’s cute. But when you deal with the tantrums of a 32 years old, cuteness looks overrated.
But as I was thinking of that one thing I never want to change in my husband last night while caressing his hair and watching him slowly fall asleep, my thoughts went back to the summer of 2014.
Soon after our marriage my husband had to go to Sweden for work. I packed myself and accompanied him. In 2014 the Swedish summer went bonkers. It was warmer than usual and due to the bizarre change of weather my husband developed few carbuncles around his face and neck. It grew so painful that he had to work from home. Despite the over the counter meds and home remedies he couldn’t talk or chew properly for two days. On the third night I heard him moaning in sleep. When I woke him up the carbuncles looked grossly swollen. Thanks to my previous trysts with skin rashes I knew it was time to ooze out the infected blood and clean the abscess.
But killing blisters is always taxing. Especially when the patient mentally faints seeing blood. So my husband couldn’t go back to sleep that night. He bathed, had milk and cookies, played ghazal, smoked a few times, still he couldn’t sleep. We watched the sky turning pale orange, my jaws pained with incessant yawning and then my husband asked, “Can you please pet me to sleep?”
I still remember that dawn like it was yesterday. I stroked his hair, pet lightly all over his face and neck to soothe the swelling, watched him shutting down the chatter of his mind and falling into sleep. It was the first time I watched the Sunrise in a country that wasn’t my own, beside my man-baby who was no more in pain, sharing the warmth of familiarity that was just ours.
An ideal man doesn’t suffer from Hero complex. In my head, he has a strong moral compass, he works hard, he is honest but not blunt, his spine should be functional enough to know the right from the wrong and he mustn’t shy away from showing his softer side. The man I married fits that picture. But as life goes on we revaluate the same traits in the partner that we sought earlier. I’m no different either. Sometimes I do feel his decisions should be more rational and less ideal. He should be less sincere to people who don’t deserve his honesty. Sometimes I feel if we could have a better future he learns to be shrewd. But I never want him to change his bedtime ritual no matter how tired I feel.
Because love is an eternal longing, even when packaged as chores.