The man of the house: La Tribune India
Memories are a pleasant pastime. The same is true of the events that once spiced up life. During my last term, we had five companion dogs. They were all affectionate. Every time I came back from the office they would jump around, lick my hands and wag their tails wildly. I threw an old tennis ball into the expansive lawn of the 3.75 acre flag staff house. They chased him madly, screaming and barking. The Labrador invariably beats the four Apsos. The latter chopped off his legs in revenge as he rushed in with the prize.
Then I retired. There was no return at 5:30 p.m. The dogs missed the routine. Little by little, they stopped noticing me. Even when I came back from a race, they stayed still. If they could talk, maybe they would say I was one of them, just eating and sleeping.
The grandchildren loved hearing my made-up stories. Over time, they started to emerge from childhood and I could detect a waning interest. Every time I started a story, “But Nana, you’ve told us that before,” said the youngest.
âShut up,â his older brother scolded, âI don’t remember. Nana, please say it. I knew she was lying, and she knew I knew. But pretense has its charm.
Whenever a suitcase needed to be kept in the attic, the woman would call me to do so. I had no difficulty hoisting the 20 kg and more up to the ladder. But little by little, I started to feel the tension, even though I never expressed it. One day I noticed the maid’s husband was doing it. “I could have done it,” I pointed out. âOf course you can,â said the woman with mock candor, âbut Hira Lal was just around the corner. “
We both have a sweet tooth and generously layer our toast with jam. Each time a new pot arrived, it was sent to me to unscrew the cap. I felt needed. But one day my nerves ran out. Instead of physically opening it, I placed the glass bottle upside down in warm, shallow water. After a while, the metal cap expanded and came off easily. This routine has since been followed by the maid. I lost my usefulness.
“Here, please open it,” the woman said one day, pushing the new bottle of maple syrup towards me. As I twisted, the plastic cap came off without much difficulty. But I pretended and continued to apply dummy force, even letting out a few audible growls. I felt good about my success.
The woman has her mahjong group. Every time they play, I take care of mine, in an adjoining room. One day I heard them talk about spouses. Quickly plugging in my hearing aid, I stood by the door. “With age a man begins to feel unwanted in the house,” I heard him say. âThe other day, I pulled out a new bottle. I first unscrewed the cap and tightened it before asking him to do so. I could see the triumph on his face as he opened the bottle.