Marriage, I feel, is like a cricket match, husband and wife at the crease ducking bouncers and hitting the odd ball to the boundaries. If either of them is careless, then they’re run out or worse, there’s a hit wicket. Mine is an interreligious marriage, me a Gujarati Jain and my hubby a Roman Catholic from Goa (nothing short of an Indo-Pak series, mind you, not just one match). We had a simple wedding followed by two receptions given the different palates of our respected relatives, where curiosity ruled and people laid bets on how this was going to be a 20-20 match (over in no time). The contrarians, if any, would be millionaires now.
Related reading: Indian weddings and the art of tracing lineages
We moved into our rented apartment soon after the wedding. The place was small and had a terrace attached, which was its USP. The broker convinced the landlady to reduce the rent, as we were just starting our married life (a true blue Bengali romantic at heart).
The first few weeks in the new house just flew by, with friends, family, shopping for necessities, and working out weekly budgets and so on. Gradually we settled into our routine. I would leave early for work and Hubby a little later. He returned home late, as he was pursuing his MBA too, so we would catch up on the day’s events over dinner. All important messages were stuck on the fridge, loads of colourful Post-its with messages like ‘pay the electric bill’ or ‘toaster kaput, have sandwich pls’.
The curious incidents
A couple of months later, small nondescript incidents like misplaced bills, clothes missing from the terrace, clogged drains due to some piece of clothing stuck deep down, etc. led to skirmishes between us. One evening Hubby lands up at home with a distant uncle for dinner, says he had asked the landlady to inform me, since our phone wasn’t working. I had received no such message. However, a quick call to the Chinese takeaway at the corner of the road and piping hot fare delivered surreptitiously at the main gate saved the day. Uncleji left pleased with our hospitality, but then the slog overs began as we traded charges. Next morning I left in a huff and found the landlady’s note stuck on the grill of the door with my husband’s message on it. How did I miss it?
One Sunday night when we came back from a movie, we found my parents pacing in the terrace. A shock awaited us when they asked me to go back with them, as someone had called them to say that I was being beaten and tortured by my husband. We were aghast.
However, we allayed their fears and we all agreed that it must be a prank by some mischief monger. This incident disturbed us, as we tried to guess who the prankster could be, when a chance remark by a friend about ‘Griha Shanti Pooja’ set us on the right track.
The case of the conniving landlady
We began a retrospective of our disagreements, mishaps and finally decided to grill the maid whom we shared with the landlady. Next morning, the session began, but the maid ducked all the bouncers. As a last-ditch effort, I bowled a googly and offered her my old mixie in exchange for information. She was bowled and we had our culprit – it was the quiet and ever smiling landlady. Her only son had settled in the USA and married an Afro-Asian there, his Brahmin upbringing notwithstanding. So she didn’t approve of intercaste marriages. She let out the flat to us so that she could harass us. We were her punching bags.
We decided to move out ASAP. Today we laugh about all the goof ups that happened, the fights and almost-breakup. We choose to remember the humour in it and forgave the old landlady and her foibles.
PS: We purchased a flat soon after. No more pesky landladies!