JournalismPakistan.com April 3, 2017
They volunteer your services. Don't worry, my husband will drop you. Of course, he can carry a package for you to Mumbai, no problem at all. You wonder if he can bring something from your cousins in Muscat; no sweat, so what if it's a little heavy, he'll do it.
Then, they have this tendency to walk in while you are working (always when you are working) twirl around and ask, notice anything different? We guys have absolutely no clue how to traverse this acre of thin ice and are deathly afraid of getting it wrong. It could be anything from new curtains to a tint in the hair, which changes color when the light hits it and you cannot see it because husbands cannot see such things. Saying 'nothing'. That word has more meanings than 'set', which only has 464 meanings. 'Nothing' has a thousand more depending on the inflection, the surroundings, the conditions leading up to its utterance and the total refusal to elaborate on the issue.
Nothinnnnngggg!!! Why should anything be wrong? If you can't see it, don't bother asking. What made me marry you? Sigh. Then another sigh. Again, like a blunt razor blade, our minds have no capacity to figure it out.
A close cousin to this situation is the 'don't touch me' warning when they are angry because you a) dropped a brick, b) embarrassed them in public, c) enjoyed yourself too much, d) did not enjoy yourself or showed no interest when you should have and e) told the same boring jokes again.
Wives also have a habit of saying goodbye, let's go home, and then spending 40 minutes after leaving a function in leaving the function. We start with the hosts, then five feet on meet someone with squeals of delight and chat about just leaving, early start tomorrow, then be hijacked by another couple, held at ransom by an old friend we haven't met for years (it is always an old friend we haven't met for years), and now a bonfire of conversation ignites even though we had said goodbye 20 minutes ago. I am tired of clicking the car key, can we leave already?
They never have anything to wear. Men have three suits, gray, not-so-grey and black, with the luckier ones having a brown, and women have a sweeping Serengeti of saris and stuff that cannot be worn because someone there might notice it has been worn before. This baffles us. We do not go around checking each other out for clothes, like, hey, Freddie, same black suit, hard times huh or Mohan, you wore these brown shoes last month, recognize them anywhere, look, guys, he's wearing the same shoes, silly fellow.
Wives also love to send husbands into the world armed with little square pieces of cloth to find matching color so they can make a blouse, making blouses being a saga at the level of Alex conquering half of Asia. So you are in this shop in another country holding this little-frayed square and you say it is Burnt Sienna. Obviously, they have Copper Sunset, Brown Velvet, Deep Ochre and Rust Dust but have run out of Burnt Sienna, they do not even have Singed Sienna, let alone Burnt.
Naturally, when you get back home with something called Flaming Ember - which you were conned into buying because, Sir, it is identical to Burnt Sienna - you hope she wouldn't know. Ha, she will glance at it with that sneer wives reserve for their husbands and chill you out with, "This is not Burnt Sienna."
I once spent three days in London trying to find a lipstick called Darksalmon (no kidding) in a matte finish, not gloss, and all I could see was rows of the glossy version. I am convinced manufacturers create these names by hiring bachelors who get a fiendish delight in sending husbands on a wild goose chase looking for Ghostwhite and Lemon Chiffon 5,000 miles from home. You wanted to get married, huh, well, go hunt for Papayawhip, it's a color, fool.
And when you mess up, you did not try hard enough.
Ah well, 37 years later, I am still trying her patience.
(WhatsApp to the Editor: Urgent. I wrote this piece when my wife was out of town. She has since shortened her trip and will be back the same day as you publish it. I think it'd be better if we do not carry this piece because it might not go down well. like, what if she does not laugh, which would be okay, but what if she decides to take umbrage? Suggest you leave the page blank. Much appreciate it. Meanwhile, I am off to find some Burnt Sienna).
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
The Express Tribune, January 13, 2017
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