July 09, 2015

Bickering over Bhindi...

It had been three years since their marriage. Shalu and Amit were my friends since school. Theirs was a love marriage. Everybody envied the chemistry between them. They were the ideal 'complete-each-others-sentences' kinda couple, the type who would never fight. We often joked that if there was one couple that would cross heavens gates for being so perfect in matrimony, it would be them. They were the Lily and Marshall of our group. So it did not come to us as any surprise when they finally decided to tie the knot five years back.

However, what came as a big surprise (to them) was us paying a surprise visit. As a rule of thumb, every surprise deserves a counter surprise. Life sticks by its rules. We got ours as well...even before we entered. We were just about to press the door bell when we could hear voices from inside.It was Shalu and Amit, and they were fighting over something. As we contemplated on retreating our steps and coming back another time (next time after prior notice), we could not help but overhear the argument.

"Do you think I am some sort of super woman? Because at least that is what your mother thought I am when she was had come to visit," Shalu was complaining.

"Don't you drag my mother in this."

"Why not? It is she who has managed to spoil you like this," Shalu was muttering.

"Shalu, can't I expect a decent meal from you? Is that asking for too much?"

There was a pregnant pause. We wondered what they were fighting about. We were aware that Shalu lacked culinary skills. But Amit had never complained. We knew it was bad manners to eavesdrop but now we had to listen. 
"and since when did 'bhindi' become an indecent meal?"

"Since you started cooking it every day of the week," Amit snapped.

"You should have married a cook then,"

"I would. If only I knew better..."

"Six years of dating and three years of marriage were not enough?" she wailed. "You have changed, Amit."

We knew she was using the final weapon. Emotional blackmail. No man can ever say anything after the 'You have changed' card. But our Amit just would not listen. He continued to tread on another ground...a safer area of the blame game zone. Bickering makes sure you recall every single fight from the past with all its petty details, blow it out of proportion, and use it to the best of your interest. Bickering makes sure you never forget.

"There starts your daily drama. Can't a man have a little peace around the house? This is all because of those stupid 'saas-bahu' soaps you watch on TV. Do you know anything about current affairs? All you are interested in is this filmy nonsense.":

"You have a problem with my TV watching too! You watch the same news over and over again despite having read it in the morning paper. You do that just to harass me, I know."

"Harass you...hah! Do I ever get to have the remote? If there is someone in this house that is being harassed, it is ME!"

We knocked a couple of times, but our knocks were drowned out in the voices. The argument was getting heated now.
 "Yes, this idiot box seems like a better companion than you sometimes. What else should I do the whole day?" Shalu retorted.

"Err...cook something other than Bhindi?" Amit blurted, his reply more like an innocuous question.

There was a moment's silence, and even standing outside the door we could sense the heavy feeling of guilt it contained. Then as if realizing the pettiness of the argument, we could hear both of them burst out laughing.
We heaved a sigh of relief. The bickering had come full circle at 'Bhindi'.

We took the cue and knocked again, this time to be received warmly by Shalu and Amit. They asked us how long we had been waiting.
"Long enough to hate Bhindi for the rest of my life," I grinned.

We had a good laugh over the outrageous episode. Later in the privacy of her room, I held Shalu's hand in mine and asked.
"Are you guys having problems?"

"With Okra, yes!" she giggled.

"I am serious, Shalu."

That is when Shalu's downcast eyes met mine.

"You know something, " she said. "Bickering need not always be a bad thing. Sometimes it proves that a relationship is alive...that we still hold expectations from each other. Had Amit eaten the bhindi without complaining, I would have worried that something is seriously wrong with us. I know he hates Bhindi, and the very fact that he can tell me so only means he trusts me to understand. "
I listened in silence as she continued.

"You know, Pri. Marriage changes a lot of things. But all is well as long as we can be comfortable enough to point out those changes and fight them out. Amit and I are fighting out our changes."

"But what happens if the bickering goes out of hand?"

"It never does. We haven't lost the ability to laugh at our mistakes. I guess that is what love is all about---when you fight over petty things that still make perfect laugh-out-loud memories."

"Like today's bickering over Bhindi," Amit entered the room laughing.

"Exactly," she blushed.

I couldn't help but smile. Our Lily and Marshall were still the same. Their love had worked its way through the transition from courtship to marriage by bending (to adjust) but never breaking. Communication, even if it meant bickering over petty issues made sure they never let misunderstandings seep through. They argued, fought, grumbled, mumbled, but made sure they never went to bed angry.

The evening was a huge success. We basked in the nostalgia of the good old days. We all had loads of stuff to update each other about. I carried home several memories that would bring a smile to my face for eons to come.
The taste of Bhindi that day had seemed familiar...a lot like love.

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