It was a usual day in Eddie uncles house, the cock crowed, newspaper arrived, tea was served and so was breakfast. Everything was perfect from an outsider’s perspective. But Cecilia aunty was unusually quiet. Never once she glanced at her husband.
“What the hell have I done?”. Eddie uncle thought to himself. A man’s brain, after years of marriage is trained to investigate within the sacrosanct of his brain, gradually working around the outer layers before concluding or looking anywhere else. Eddie uncles brain wandered to all the things he did, the previous day, the previous week and the previous month. He visited deep into his brain to scratch out even small details about his whereabouts over the past few days. After much deliberation, he realized there is nothing he had done, that would anger his woman.
Now what he thinks doesn’t matter. Does it?
A woman’s brain is wired in a way, which a man cannot fathom. Eddie uncle, in his first few years of marriage had put in all his efforts to understand Cecilia aunty and gradually he realized there was no point. A simple Sorry for everything solved most of the unwanted and unimportant quarrels. It was now ages since Eddie uncle had even thought about understanding the woman’s brain. He had secretly read Men are from Mars and Women from Venus and adjusted his behaviour accordingly. In the remote corner of his heart, he also knew that Cecilia aunty had also read the same book and done the same adjustments. No wonder they were married for 42 years and that too happily.
But today was unusual, at least from what Eddie uncle told me. Eddie uncle is a person, who never talks about personal matters in public, but he told me his concerns today. As I was newly married, he thought I would understand. He was mistaken. I also had read the book Men are from Mars and women from Venus. I suggested to him that this book be made the corner stone of marriage and a compulsory for every person thinking of tying the knot.
“Uncle, I think you should talk to her. It could be something of grave importance. From the way you told me, I think so”. I gave him my freshers experience.
“But still Anil, I don’t understand. So far in our life together, there are times when she hasn’t spoken to me for days, but she always came out to the door, when I left. But today she didn’t even come out”
“Hmmm” was I all I could muster.
“Good advice”. Eddie uncle mocked me.
“Sometimes silence is the best advise”. I had no intentions of giving this experienced man any reason to blame me later.
“I will wait till today”. Eddie uncle seemed to have taken my advice.
Everything was usual again. Lunch was served, then his afternoon tea. Everything seemed normal, sans the conversation. Cecila aunty was on a Maun vrath. Eddie uncle too did not venture into negotiation, as he thought he would give away too much if he started the conversation. This is what he told me. He played the waiting game. I was unnecessarily dragged into this cat and mouse game by Eddie uncle.
Next day, after morning mass, he met me again, with a look of concern on his face.
“Were you able to break the ice uncle”. I enquired.
“No Anil. Something is seriously wrong” He continued. “I think you need to play the mediator”
“Spare me lord”. I let out the loud prayer.
“Oh, come on. You know she will talk to you”
“She even knows, I am your chaddi buddy and because of you, she might admonish me as well. Bad idea uncle. Sort it out yourself”. I got out of the church portico as fast as I could.
Nothing seemed to have improved in Eddie uncles home. I could not see Eddie uncle at the morning service. He is usually punctual. My thoughts were around Eddie uncle and Cecilia aunty during the service. Immediately after the service, I directed my bike towards their house.
Oh my. What a sight it was. Eddie uncle and Cecila aunty were in a furious argument. “At least they are conversing” was my first thought. My policy was simple – never let emotions unexpressed, as they tend to prop up later in many ugly ways.
“Cecilia, I am telling you. I don’t know what you are talking about”. Eddie uncle was defending himself.
“Saiba. Don’t give me that lame reason”
“Arre saibini. I am repeating. I don’t even know who she is”
Things were serious. There was a third party involved or foreign hand in political terms. I was concerned now. But knowing Eddie uncle, I could vouch for his character even in the middle of my sound sleep. He was Eka Patni vrata.
“Then why were you holding her hand”. Cecila aunty was furious.
“In the town centre. Aren’t you ashamed? She might be a little older than your own daughter”. Cecila aunty had tears, waiting to burst into her cheeks.
“Who was it again?” Eddie uncle’s look told me he was either caught red handed or he did not have a clue about the lady.
“Saiba. I don’t know who she was. But you were holding her hand and that too, when I was right there. You were standing at the gate and she was hiding behind the gate. That too in full style, you were wearing some baggy jeans, your favourite blue shirt with white stripes. How dare you cheat on me?”
Eddie uncle saw me from the corner of his eye.
“Anil. Come here puta. See what allegations your aunty is putting on me. Do you think, I would betray her?”
I was convinced that there was something wrong. As I said earlier, Eddie uncle was not the kind of man, who would do this.
“Anil, I do not know what she is saying”. Eddie uncle’s grief had not turned into tears yet.
“Aunty. I think there is something wrong here. Don’t you know Eddie uncle”. I tried to mediate between the two now warring parties.
“Yes puta. I know. But men change. Don’t they?. I think after 65, they think they are like Amitabh Bacchan”. Without missing a beat, she looked at Eddie uncle “You should be grateful, I married you. Otherwise who would have put up with that face?”.
Eddie uncle, by now has retreated to the corner of the living room. “Look, he is admitting his adventure”. Cecilia aunty had already judged him and labelled him a traitor without even giving him a chance.
I looked at Eddie uncle and asked him “Uncle, tell me the truth. Did you or did you not hold her hands”. Cecilia aunty’s argument made my faith in Eddie uncle waver a bit.
“Are you nuts, Anil. The woman has lost her mind”. Eddie uncle was now livid and continued “You too Brutus”
Cecila aunty, by now was in tears as she saw Eddie uncle quiet and contemplating. She thought her husband was seeing someone else at this ripe age.
Eddie uncle spoke “Which gate are you talking about, saibini”. A man’s analytical brain was now kicking in. He had understood that, when a woman speaks, all he must do is listen and not give advice, which was against his wiring. A man always likes to give solutions. In this case, he had to analyse and defend himself against some serious allegations.
“It was a pretty gate; I don’t remember now”.
“What?”. Both Eddie uncle and I exclaimed.
My next question to Cecila aunty brought out the dark truth of the matter “Aunty, why didn’t you confront Eddie uncle and catch him red handed”.
Cecilia aunty hesitated “Well, I think I made a mistake. I ant remember whether it was Eddie uncle or someone else”. Cecila aunty was so engrossed in her angst that she had not even thought about a possibility of the whole saga, being a dream.
“But you described me so well. You even remembered my attire”. Eddie uncle probed.
“Yeah. I think it was mistake. He looked like you”. Cecila aunty did not want to admit that it was a dream. It would be embarrassing. She had to somehow come out of it and that too looking good.
“How did she look”. Again, a probing question.
“Did you see her face?”
“No, I could only see you holding her hand”
“Just now, you said, you could not remember whether it was me or someone else”. Eddie uncle was now on the front foot and was sure, he had the upper hand. Somewhere, deep down Eddie uncle realised his wife’s arguments were getting flimsier. He continued “Think properly. I am going out. It could be someone looking like me”. Eddie uncle stormed out of the house. This was the first time he had left his house, quarrelling.
I stood behind and asked Cecilia aunty “Aunty, are you sure? Eddie uncle is not a man who would cheat on you”
“I think I made a mistake Anil”. Cecilia aunty was clearly hiding something. “It could be someone looking like him or wearing the same clothes as him”.
Cecila aunty thought for herself “Phew. Let him think that I must have mistook someone else for him. I will not tell him, that it was a dream. How innocent is this husband of mine, who gave me options to come out of the mess , I created. Oh god. Forgive me”
I bid her bye and left, only to find Eddie uncle waiting for me at my house, happy as ever.
“She has seen me in her dream, Anil. At least I am happy, I still come in her dreams. I am told, that husbands seldom come in their wives’ dreams”. Eddie uncle was smiling.
Without putting her wife into more embarrassment of admitting to her mistake, I was happy the way Eddie uncle had concluded. No wonder it was a happy married life.