When I turned 18, alarm bells went off in my mother, ‘Mrs Bennett’s’, head. Horoscopes appeared from every nook, as boys of all sizes and shapes were vetted. One qualification that I was particular about was that my future husband should have a sense of humour. As Reba McEntire put it, “To thrive in life, you need three bones. A wishbone. A backbone. And a funny bone.” Amen!
So there I was, trying out my wacky sense of humour on poor unsuspecting candidates, who either stared at me, clouds of bewilderment drifting around their befuddled heads, or who cut me further down to size from my five-foot-two frame, by looking down their patrician noses at my well-meaning puns.
Like the almost seven foot tall man who frowned when I asked him the clichéd, “How’s the weather up there?” question. If looks could have killed, (another cliché!), I would have been burnt to a cinder and my matrimonial prospects would have been quashed in a jiffy.
Which is when my future spouse walked into my life, a dashing young Army Captain, with devastating dimples into which my Mom first fell, then my sisters, and finally yours truly, vanity having prevented me from wearing my spectacles. With them on, the world looked crystal clear; minus them, life was a giant blur, and hence, I escaped seeing those dimples for quite a while.
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The blur continued till the day he asked me with a smile, “Would you like to come to Bhuj with me?” A question that no well-brought up girl should have entertained, except that it was the typical Army man’s idea of a proposal! I bunged my glasses on, took a good look at his dimples and said “Yes!” In the years that followed, he never allowed me to forget it. “Can you imagine?” he would wax eloquent. “All those days when we were getting to know each other, she only had a half-fuzzy vision of me?”
So we were married, and off we went to Bhuj. Living together was no bed of roses, as we fought and argued, and dusted our lives down with vigour, but we learnt the essence of matrimony. “You can never fall in love with someone whom you never laugh with.” For there were times when we laughed off small travails, because we realised the truth that we were bound together, for better or for worse!
Those were the days I would walk into the kitchen, bewildered at the various dals and condiments, wondering how they could be used to turn into something vaguely edible. Even when I liberally doused lady’s finger in water and turned sooji ka halwa into glue, the kind which made teeth stick together, my better half laughed it all off.
Not once, in the last 32 years of marriage, has he ever made a face at any of my concoctions, probably because he has developed a cast-iron stomach by now!
However, the spats stopped when we realised that we were to be parents. The doctor proclaimed that I was not to be upset over anything, and over the next nine months, my husband turned as good as gold. Not once did he yell at me, even when I provoked him often, all those hormones playing havoc on my unpredictable temper. He would get me everything I craved, and not allow me to lift up anything heavy. I remember chuckling when he even stopped me from picking up a heavy scrapbook.
His only grouse has been the black hole that exists at home, one that gets bigger when guests come over. For in the massive clean-up that takes place, I end up finding everything that I’ve ever lost, even as important documents, pens, watches and cheque books tumble into the aforesaid hole, to be lost in oblivion forever. Tempers flare, as I scrabble around frantically for a bill to be paid urgently, as the whole house turns into a black hole momentarily! And then, the said bill turns up in my husband’s briefcase!
“When you live and laugh abundantly you will live a beautiful life.”