I feel that there is some basic difference between men and women. Whether it is in their genes or cultural tuning I wouldn’t know but I do feel that men-or at least those that belong to my generation suffer from a blindness that has no name. We’ve heard of color blindness and night blindness. But how do you classify when men look at things without actually seeing them. My husband for instance needs me in the house all the time. It used to be-
“Where is the gas lighter?” at five o’clock in the morning. This question would annoy me. I certainly don’t hide it under my pillow. Earlier I’d get up and give it to him and come back to get on with my dreams. These days I close my eyes tight and continue to dream. He must have learnt to locate it or perhaps uses matchsticks but he has stopped asking me. The next question would be
“Where is the milk?”
Why they don't try to locate even medium or large sized objects is something I don’t understand. Even while I write this post my husband is asking for the TV remote. He is the actual ‘controller’ of the remote and it is invariably found on the sofa. I don’t even touch it with my little finger but the question is always popped at me. As if I go about hiding everything. I personally feel that they shoot the question even before looking for a particular item. A gent’s towel is not the size of a lady’s handkerchief to be folded and kept in my purse nor do spanners and screw drivers attract me. But it is always ‘where is this or that.’
One evening when I came back from work every edible item had been left open. The cooker with cooked rice in it, dal, and sabzi lay open on the kitchen slab. Curd and pickle on the dining table. Lids of all sizes lay strewn all over the place and this was at least two hours after he had his afternoon meal.
I woke him up from his afternoon nap and demanded to know why he hadn’t bothered to keep the curd and dal in the fridge and why each and every item had been left open. He had no answer except that he was watching an interesting match on TV and forgot about it. He did not even see the curd and pickle lying open.
“Oh! Stop it will you?” was his retort. “It doesn’t take place everyday!” Thank God it doesn’t. It would cause my blood pressure to soar. Honestly I don’t see a woman doing this however interesting a program on TV may be.
The second problem area is the selective deafness he seems to suffer from.
“The dal is in the fridge.” I’d tell him. “Heat it up in the microwave just before lunch.”
I’d come back and see that he has not taken out the dal at all. He had mixed rice with sabzi and eaten it up.
“But the dal was in the fridge” I’d protest.
"Oh was it? I did not know”
“I told you and you nodded your head as if you understood.”
“Did I? I don’t remember you telling me anything.”
The truth was that engrossed in his paper he had not heard a word of what I said nor seen me leave the house.
“Appa was better than you.” I’d say referring to my father in law.
And it was true. My father in law managed a lot for me. After I left at 7 in the morning and the children and husband followed me, he’d go around the house not only putting out lights and checking on the gas regulator but he’d keep track of dhobi account, servant’s salary and newspaper bill. He’d take care of the children’s home work and tell them bed time stories.
“Last month we did not get the news paper on the 3rd since 2nd October was a holiday” he’d announce. Or “The dhobi has lost a towel. I’ve asked him to look for it. I am not paying him unless he gets it.”
It was such a relief to have an elderly person attending to minor details of house keeping. My husband may ultimately do the same for the children but right now all he does is to irritate me.
Having said this I remembered a piece of advise my mother in law gave me long ago.
I was upset at something that my husband said and was about to retaliate when she shut me up much to my irritation.
“Wait till you reach my age” she said. “You can get then away with saying anything you want and he won’t even bother to listen to what you say. The bonding will be such he will not mind it even if he heard you. But not now my child. You need to grow old together before the privilege is yours.”
I now realize that she was speaking from experience and I tease my husband saying that I have his mother’s permission to boss over him once he retires!