“Darling, the Fernandez’s are inviting us over for Christmas cake, shall I say yes?” Ira would begin tentatively and pat would come the response, “Tell them, we will try our level best!” This shadow committing peppered the mundane of their lives together too. Ira had lost count of the days Sartaj would first give his word about an evening walk together or a movie over the weekend only to take it right back as the hour drew close. The reasons could be anything from, “I have work to catch up with” to “I have to wash my hair” or just plain “I feel like taking a nap.”
“Sartaj, we should forewarn the family we are reaching in a week’stime so that they can make their plans”, Ira was uncomfortable with the surprises they routinely sprung on their kith and kin. “I don’t like disappointing them. What if our plans change at the last minute for some reason? You know what my work is like!” Sartaj would defend his maddening method. It could be frustrating at times. Ira came from a family that flirted with plans freely and had no trouble keeping schedules and coming clean with commitments. It bothered her that she could not confirm to her mother any vacation plans until they were actually on their way. “You know how it is Mum, we will let you know as the trip evolves. But you should go right ahead with your calendar, don’t miss out on anything just waiting for us to firm up,” she habitually kept her folks in a limbo.
Their couple dialogue followed a map of maybes and perhaps. Ira knew better than to get her hopes up or look forward to anything too much. Their friendship had taught her a certain equanimity of excitement. She had also started to break away from the socially prescribed couple theme to assume responsibility for her own fun and pleasure. They had begun to settle into a rhythm of an easy and unfettered individuality. It was not unusual for her to watch a movie alone when he perceived a threat to his pressures. She did not seek his approval for every action of hers, at times he learnt of her adventures after they had been had!
“When do you two meet at home guys? You always seem to be at two different places! I see you walking alone too,” their friends were fond of observing. They might even have suspected a fault line somewhere. The two would joke about it, “Sartaj, we should occasionally act lovey dovey in public, the next you know there will be talk of our divorce eligibility!” and “How about you seeing me off to work lovingly and being home when I return so the neighbors get the right message!” The pair had trimmed their togetherness to an optimum functionality. What had begun as varying energy levels for living had ended up giving each the permission to plug into their personal selves in a safe space.
Ira discovered a hidden talent for linguistics; Sartaj found he hadthe notes for some stunning vocals. They used their time and energy away from each other to expand and grow. It added rich and authentic nuances to their hours together. “I have to wait for my husband. He hates going anywhere without me. I so love lazing in my bed first thing in the morning but he insists I come out and have bed tea with him in the lawn!” Ira had several awe struck friends, they marveled at the autonomy she had found in her marriage. “You are so lucky Ira to have such an understanding and accommodating husband,” they were fond of reminding her.
Ira would nod with the same vigor as she would use to reach behind and pat her own back, “Hats off to me! Rather than bemoan the perfect dancer, I did good to learn the dance!”