I was taught in my early life that whatever happens, there is no use being bitter. Never be sour, whatever happens. On the other hand, even non-events upset my wife. If there is cobweb or gossamer hanging from the roof, or, if the roof leaks during rain, she start complaining and even gets into a rage. She raises her voice as if I had climbed up and put cobwebs on the roof or made holes therein.
My house, perhaps, is one of the oldest in Ernakulam. Most houses, almost as old as ours, were either pulled down to build commercial complexes or sold to apartment builders. The result: the area is replete with tall buildings and my house and the next one look like a couple of ducklings among a group of stately Chinese ganders. Thomas, my neighbour, would always joke: “Our two houses will definitely find a place in Ripley’s Book of Records.”
The front yard is full of trees — mango, jack fruit, tamarind, wood apple — and my house sits under their shadow. We spend most of our time in the open verandah that faces the road.
My wife would look at the flats in the high-rise buildings and murmur: “Lucky people! Not much to clean and no guests to feed.”
My wife’s complaint is that there are 13 rooms in our house but none is habitable. “Have you heard of a bedroom having windows on all sides? Why? Is some kind of exhibition going on in the room? If I want to change my dress, I have to close all six windows and three doors. It is high time that we moved into a flat,” she grumbled.
Very soon, we had to attend the funeral of her distant uncle. After retirement, he and his wife were living in a flat. Those years, flats were not popular. When we reached there, all rooms were crowded with people — they were occupying even the kitchen and bathrooms; and a heated discussion was going on on how to take the body down from the 10th floor. The seven-foot coffin could not be carried in the lift, which was only five feet in length. Carrying the body down the staircase was also not feasible as it was too narrow and winding.
Somebody suggested that the body, secured inside the coffin, be dropped spreading rubber beds on the ground floor to soften the impact. Another genius suggested airlifting the coffin from the rooftop which was only a floor away. Finally, my wife came to their rescue.
She ordered them to put the body in the coffin and close the lid. She ordered that both ends of the coffin be tightly secured with strong plastic ropes. She recruited three strong persons and asked them to enter the lift with the coffin held in a vertical position. In five seconds it reached the ground floor. People began asking one another: “Who is that girl?” Someone asked me too without knowing who I was. I said: “I don’t know; but I know her phone number.”
Thereafter, her refrain changed to: “It is enough if we move to a small house”.
You don’t know my wife!
(The writer is an advocate. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)