According to Will Rogers, “There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works”. Forty five years of married life has convinced me that the genius, who coined the phrase needs to be awarded a specially constituted Nobel Prize for ‘Marital Wisdom’. It is also my irrevocable and personal conclusion that women are like an algorithm that can never be understood.
Take for example the female, who rules my house hold (and that includes yours truly). The other day I left for my office with an empty domestic task table wondering whether it was my luck or was I dreaming. Returning home I saw my ‘Queen of the Kitchen’ sitting on the verandah swing with a smile on her face. Relieved and whistling like a bird, I walked up to her only to be brought back to earth with “Where are the eggs, butter and yogurt, I had asked you to bring?” Now I am a senior citizen, but I am professionally credited with an excellent memory and a quick mental check in time convinced me that I had certainly left home and later the office with nothing on my ‘to do’ list. My blank looks added fuel to fire because for the next five minutes, I got a sermon on how forgetful I had become. At the dinner table, I managed to get in an explanation edge wise that I had not been given any shopping memo that morning. “You should have nonetheless known that you were to bring the items with you”, came the response. I am now looking for someone, who can tell me if I possess Extra Sensory Perception’ and if I do, to somehow awaken it. My resolve to harness my powers is even greater because the very next day, when I came home loaded with eggs, butter, yogurt, bread and a goodwill box of chocolates, I was told that I was a wastrel.
Then there is my female sibling, whose five year seniority in age entitles her to consider me as a youngster, who can be (successfully) pushed around. Here again my memory is challenged and my credibility as a story teller undermined. Having come for a short visit from Lahore, this formidable creature (who is a retired professor) sat looking at me as I narrated some of my childhood escapades to a very attentive grandchildren based audience. ‘Nonsense!” boomed a voice that must have caused tremors amongst students at the Punjab University. “Your grandfather is losing his marbles, I will tell you what actually happened”. For the next quarter of an hour, I sat reverently as my story was repeated word for word by the individual, who used to trap me into wearing a false moustache, dress me up (complete with a small huqqa) as a rural rustic and launch me into our paternal grandmother’s room, who was very sensitive to dwarflike strangers intruding on her privacy and not a bit hesitant to make them flee with her stentorian command of the Urdu language.
As if this was not enough, I am blessed with two daughters, who (as part of a bigger conspiracy) have decided to reinforce the females described above. Once these girls were adorable, then they adopted careers, married and became mothers. They had at some point in their formative years heard me say that “Old people were like children”, for they have now begun treating me as a mother should. I have unsuccessfully endeavored to explain that ‘old age is a state of mind’ and therefore I am young. The elder of the two (who like my sister is a professor) always manages to silence me, using the most potent weapon in her arsenal – emotional blackmail.
Not be outdone and perhaps grooming themselves for inevitable roles, my granddaughters, which range between twelve years to ten months, are effectively picking up the art of making me compliant at a ‘drop of a hat’. It is the youngest one however, who amazes me with her skills of making me do as she pleases. I have more or less capitulated and accepted a total rout – strangely enough I am beginning to enjoy the feeling.
The writer is a historian.