My husband asks me, “Should I remove the foil before eating the paneer tikka roll or eat it as it is?” I can’t believe what he’s asking me and I make him repeat himself several times. And then it hits me- it’s the most romantic thing he has said to me in years! After being married for over a decade, I find that romance is hidden in these silly statements.
The flowers have gone. The gifts are rare to come by. The last time my husband visited an Archie’s to purchase a card had to have been when I was his girlfriend. Now he doesn’t even sign his name on the pre-bought cards that are yellowing in our drawer, which I discreetly leave by his bedside on the eve of an occasion. All the romance that I had been taught of, by movies and Sweet Dream novels in my teenhood, has ceased to exist.
After the arrival of a naughty little girl into our lives, cuddle time has turned into muddle time as we try to awkwardly hug each other around her sleeping body, lying between us. And the last time I heard him whisper sweet nothings to anyone, it was to Baby A, after she had indulged in her daily paternal-buttering-up, telling him that she loved him to the sun and back and then some more, while plastering his face with butterfly kisses.
Nandy (my hubby) has never been an overly expressive individual and he’s someone who strongly believes that actions speak louder than words. I, being a writer at heart and a literature student by degrees, have had a hard time understanding actions as a form of romance. What about love letters quoting Keats’ poetry or songs dedicated to me on Facebook?
And time has only made us increasingly complacent in our marriage. We have become an old married couple that even forgets to hold hands sometimes at the theatre, but we just cannot function without each other. We have become extensions of each other, fiery in our separate opinions (which results in frequent arguments) but merged in our need to have the other’s approval in what we do. How else can you explain a 37 year old man, with a great amount of familiarity with rolls and food packaging in general, asking his wife whether he needs to take the foil off before eating? When, in my defence, I haven’t ever been the mothering wife who likes to feed her husband or make each golgappa with her own hands before placing it into his mouth (for fear that he might injure his delicate finger as he jabs into the crunchy puri, or gets too much channa in but not enough aloo, throwing him off- balance).
Every weekend, Nandy asks me what to wear and he earnestly inquires as to whether his Sunday ensemble (a white shirt with purple pants and black chappals) looks good, even though it looked the same every Sunday before that one. He asks me to proofread and approve of every SMS that he composes casually for a friend, or any Facebook post that he wishes to put up. Nandy asks me if he should visit the loo when he leaves the restaurant or when he gets home!
Now I know that the common consensus among everyone reading this would be that I’m a crazy, controlling wife who mustn’t be letting him breathe without my permission, but I’m really not. I have never told him what he must wear, how he must eat, how he must write or anything else! It’s just that we have been together forever (from high school sweethearts to post-baby grouches) and so he feels more comfortable after taking a second opinion from me- for the most inane things. He usually does what he likes anyway, but this need to know what I think is what becomes the romance in our relationship.
Romance evolves, just like our marriages evolve, and I can’t help but feel a warmth in my heart (very similar to the one I felt when he wrote me silly, rhyming poems that told me why he loved me- mostly making fun of me- in college) when he sits confused now, curling his hair, and then turns to ask me, “Should I have a cold coffee or lassi?” I smile, knowing how much he loves me, and reply “Lassi” knowing fully well what he will say next. And I’m right.
“Ramu, ek cold coffee banana!” (Ramu, make me a cold coffee!), he shouts, as I cuddle up to him, knowing everything in the world is right where it should be.