‘The heat is increasing incessantly. How are you bearing it?’
‘Don’t ask Karthik. This place is turning more into an oven nowadays’, Arvind said wiping the perspiring sweat from his face.
‘It’s time to start. Who are we waiting for still?’ exclaimed Joseph.
Just then, Mani knocked at the cab door. He was talking on his phone hence he opened the cab door & diligently dropped his bag in the seat & went out again, continuing his phone conversation.
‘Now that’s what I call the marriage syndrome’, said Arvind.
‘What’s that’, Joseph asked excitedly?
‘Well, you see the time after a person gets engaged, is the happiest time’?
‘For a person?’Joseph interjected.
‘No, the telecom company’, sighed Arvind.
Karthik couldn’t hold back his laugh & said ‘Rightly said so, Arvind.’
Arvind continued. ‘Before getting engaged, work remains a big part of the person’s life. After engagement, his phone becomes a big part of his life. The amount of time on the phone increases accordingly, which gets duly reflected in the phone bills. I saw Mani thrice today & on all the occasions, I saw him talking on the phone’
‘Yeah, telecom companies do everything at their disposal to create avenues for people to come together, so to cash in on the emotions. I have a hunch that the months preceding the time of the year when marriages happens most, would be the most profitable quarter for the Telecom providers.
The driver entered the cab signaling we were ready to leave now. Karthik signaled Mani to board the cab, who was busy walking to & fro still lost in his phone conversation. It took a while to catch Mani’s attention, but eventually he noticed & came back.
‘Sorry guys to keep you waiting. Just busy on a call’, said Mani
‘No problem. Carry on’, said Karthik.
The cab started & the driver switched on the A/C which provided a big relief to all. Since Mani was on the phone, the whole cab remained silent.
Surprisingly, Mani wasn’t talking at all. I mean he wasn’t speaking much. The two words which we heard were ‘Yes dear’, ‘No dear’ that too used very infrequently.
Sometime just to break the monotony of the conversation, Mani would speak up few other words such as ‘Uhmm’, ‘Yea yea’. The longest sentence which he would have spoken was for 4 words. ‘Is it? Then fine’.
After 20 minutes of conversing, Mani abruptly ended the call. Joseph had dozed off listening to ‘Yes, No dear’. Karthik surprised by the sudden end of the call asked ‘Is all well’, Mani?’ The end of lullaby (phone conversation) seemed to have its effect on Joseph, who woke up.
“All is well, Karthik, replied Mani. Why do you ask?’
‘It seemed strange that you ended your phone abruptly after what seemed to be an engrossing conversation’.
‘Oh, that. My phone charge is completely off’.
‘Oh I see. How are the marriage arrangements coming up?’
‘Going on pretty well. A lot more stuff to finalize still, so plenty of things at our hands. Even now, we were discussing about the printing of marriage invitations’
‘Ohh. That’s nice’, remarked Joseph wondering from which angle would the conversation qualify as a discussion.
‘Yeah. We had a healthy discussion. She was sharing her inputs on various things and I agreed with her’, said Mani.
Arvind, Karthik nodded in quiet agreements, as if empathizing with Mani’s state.
“So what happens after the marriage syndrome?” Do we have any cure for that, asked Joseph.
‘Well, you see. It’s quite a paradox. The solution for Marriage syndrome co-incidentally is Marriage itself’ replied Arvind.
‘I don’t get it?’ Joseph asked quizzically.
‘Well, Joseph it’s like this. For anyone inflicted with Marriage syndrome, it’s like a phase. The symptoms start withdrawing after marriage. The amount of time spent on phone reduces till a point where you would be happy to leave your phone.
‘I agree. I feel that the amount of time spent on phone before & after a marriage follows a bell curve distribution. Increasing until a crest & then decreasing eventually to zero.
‘Is it?’, wondered Mani thinking which point of the bell curve he was currently in.
‘Practically speaking, the marriage syndrome is meant to help the guy and girl get to know each other.
But nothing could be farther from the truth’ remarked Karthik.
‘I don’t think so. We get to know others the more we talk. We identify each others interest, likes, dislikes etc. Don’t you think so?’ asked Mani.
‘Well my boy, that’s the myth. One figures that it is normal to understand someone after spending time with them, but in case of women, it’s not applicable. I can say with experience that with woman, the longer the time you spend with them, the harder it will be to understand them. Actually, this topic is quite worthy of a PhD thesis. So much unexplored & undefined. The fact that no man has solved the mystery yet, speaks of the insurmountable challenges that lie ahead.’
‘Why don’t you both share some insights from your experience on ‘What to do & what not to do in a marriage, so as to avoid unhappiness in life?’ asked Joseph.
‘I hope we could do that. As is the case, the more you think that you have solved it, the more you realize it’s unsolved. It’s complicated’, Arvind said.
‘Maybe, but there may be some general insights which you would know. At-least that will help us avoid the pain points’, Mani asked eagerly.
‘Well, there may be few axioms which if followed to the letter would help you avoid some amount of trouble. ‘ said Arvind donning the sage mode ready to share his gyaan!
‘So, what is that axiom’, asked Mani.
‘Remember the one & only most important axiom ‘She is always right’. No matter what the situation is, what the place, just keep this one thing in mind. She is always right. Just agree with her & life will be ok for you. ‘ said Arvind.
‘But, what if she had made some mistake & you need to correct it?’ asked Joseph
‘Well, God save the person who is courageous enough to point a woman her mistake & moreover tell her what to do. That’s the quickest suicidal way. Not only you earn the wrath of the woman for a lifetime, you end up being the reason for every bad thing that happens. She will not rest until she has earned her revenge. Keep that in mind’
‘Uhmm’, Mani murmured wondering if has done anything like that yet.
‘Don’t worry Mani, based on what we heard today, your conversing style is pretty good. If you stick to that, I doubt if you will ever make that mistake’, Karthik said jokingly.
Arvind continued, ‘That said, it doesn’t mean that just agreeing with her will ease things out. You have to exhibit that you will be for her in any situation when she needs you.
‘How can one tell that she needs me’, asked Mani.
‘Well, that I can’t say. I have thought about it from all possible logic & I have never been able to understand how one can figure that out‘
‘I completely agree with you’, Karthik replied. ‘Once, I had an office meeting late into night. When my wife called & said that she thought she was feeling little uneasy & wants to see a doctor. Since I was busy, I told her ‘That it would be nothing & that in some-time, she will feel better’. I couldn’t speak for long because of my meeting but I told her we will see about it once I reach home. I think she kind off said that she wants me to be at home immediately, but I didn’t give it much importance then. I reached home little late & being tired went to sleep. It was in the morning when I remembered about her health and asked how she was feeling now. All I got was a glaring look & ‘Nothing’ reply.
‘Was that all that happened’, Arvind asked inquiringly? It seems that you got away with it easily.
‘Well, that was just the beginning. The morning tea & breakfast surprisingly for the next 3 days was sour & bland. In order to save further trouble, I told my wife that I wanted her to rest & that I will eat at office itself.’
‘I get the idea here. If you had reached home when your wife had called you, wouldn’t that have made her happy? Next time, you can rectify your mistake & things will be easy from then on, isn’t?’ remarked Joseph.
‘Even I thought so. But with time, I realized that it is impossible to figure out when a woman needs you. Few weeks later, something similar happened. I was on my way to office early for a meeting, when my wife called me & said ‘she was feeling a little uneasy and thought she had fever’. My intuitive mind quickly activated & recalled my previous conversation with her. I thought she expects me to be with her now & I shouldn’t miss a good chance to show how much I cared for her. I called up the office, cancelled the meeting & quickly reached back home. Any idea what I got in return?’
‘A big smile? A hug?’ asked Joseph
‘Nope. A glaring look again!’ replied Karthik dejectedly. She said I was stupid to cancel an important meeting for which I had started early & for which even she had got up early. She remarked ‘you should know how to prioritize things. you needn’t have come.
I told her that since she was feeling uneasy, I thought of being with her. She replied ‘you shouldn’t waste your time on small things like this. If I hadn’t woken up soon, I think I wouldn’t have felt uneasy’ - indirectly blaming me for the outcome. Karthik seemed to choke as the old memories came back to haunt him.
Joseph had dozed off again. Listening to all the contrasting realities would have taken a toll on his already tired mind & body, so he had retired to sleep. Mani had a perplexed look in his face as if weighing the incidents & wondering what to infer from them.
‘All said & done, does a solution exist?’ asked Mani in a despaired tone, since things were looking bleak no matter how one looked at it.
‘Don’t worry Mani, remarked Arvind. You get used to it after a period of time. It’s like the stock markets, one day you see it reaching heights & the other day, rock bottom. In due time, you began to expect it & when that happens, the reality somehow seems better than your worse expectations. You will learn in due time.’
The cab driver slowed down as we got near to Karthik’s drop point. His phone rang at the same time. He picked up his phone & as he got down, Mani could hear him say ‘Yes dear. You are right’!
‘That’s experience speaking’ remarked Arvind as we bid adieu to Karthik & went ahead with the journey.