The feeling was still sinking in Majeed Bhat, a government clerk when he attended his office. Melodrama of last night at his home and that marathon verbal pounding by his wife had gripped his mind. Like a hermit at the service of humanity, he forgave all her accusations. But one fussy indictment simply shook him up: “You’ve got no balls!”
It was one of those nerve-jerking insults a man can ever face. Deep down, he was thinking that his manhood has been put under a serious question! While scanning through piled up files on his desk, he recalled how it all started last evening…
Like always, he had returned home after finishing workload at his office. As he stepped inside home, he faced an irate wife. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” he was welcomed. Her words left him confused than insulted. He didn’t respond and headed towards a bedroom. While changing his clothes, he thought: “But I don’t think I am a part of any shame!”
Later, when he showed up for dinner, he tried to pacify his agitated wife. “I think something is wrong. You can tell me,” he asked, politely. Shabnum, his wife, who was preparing dinner didn’t respond. She only beamed ire on her face.
He sniffed that a storm is about to unleash itself. The dish he tasted further made his doubts clear. In one of those days when his wife remains livid, she troubles dish with high dose of salt and spice. He could feel his taste being set on fire every time he put handful of food particles into his mouth. But sensing gravity in her mood, he pretended as if he was relishing wazwan. And then, his wife shattered a lull.
“I regret the very day badly when I married you,” she vent out her long holding words. He must have heard these lines countless times ever since they married. Like a tactical philosopher who brags over his wisdom, he gave her a patient hearing. And concentrated on food that tasted far less troubled than his wife’s mood.
“Do you think I am talking to walls, speak up, you impotent!”
Now that was height of testing man’s endurance!
“Are you out of your mind?” He broke his thoughtful stance. “Who do you think is the father of these two kids?”
Two little kids nearby didn’t mind their parents’ rants. And were busy discussing cartoon characters they loved to watch on TV, quite often.
“Mere inability to produce babies doesn’t make a man impotent,” she cleared some of his dilemma. “You are an impotent of different class who don’t deliver what you promise.”
Seemingly, the argument reached to a next level. Likewise, he struggled hard to speak some words. And when he did, he stammered: “Looook… You can’t treat me like this always. I mean, why are you doing this to me?”
Bhat spoke cautiously and with substance. The pitch was too low. He remembered when he pitched his vocals last time, he had to face his ‘mad’ wife who had even questioned his ancestry. “You are a pungent product of beggar ancestry,” she had left him dumbfounded!
Such was the ferocity of her accusation that the very next day Bhat went to search for his roots to his ailing uncle living a hushed life at Srinagar’s Sanat Nagar. “Come on, son,” his uncle assured him. “We are converted Brahmins, not beggars. This is just a fancy on her part. Never mind. Sometimes, wives can be the finest propagandists. Calm down, we all face these things at the hands of our lovely wives. You aren’t alone who met this fate.” Assurance by his uncle put him back to life.
Later when they both retired to bed, he faced another word ordeal.
“Husband like you is good for nothing,” she resumed her late night talk. “You are a failure. You talk big, don’t you? What about earrings you promised? Look how your neighbour treats and cares about his wife. And you, a big loser!”
Again he didn’t mind her words. But she wasn’t done yet. The very next words left him red-faced: “Sometimes, I feel, you’ve got no balls!”
He didn’t respond. But felt as if his heart had been set on fire by her nasty words. Both of them were sleeping opposite to each other. And were strangers for the night. Her complaining words kept derailing calm of their bedroom. Amid her whispers and murmurs, Bhat was tracing rot in his married life.
He was recalling how he lost touch with himself ever since he got married. Last nine years of marriage transformed him into another being. His once hippie locks have been replaced by a desert on his head. Last time when he was happily sipping tea with his wife, a non-local lady knocked at their door and asked for a residual hair. His wife gave a cold stare at his bald head. And soon his colleagues’ taunt at office flashed across his mind: “Bald head is a dark humour of marriage.”
Recalling all these things in the night of discord further filled him with rage and remorse. He couldn’t wink his eyes and kept evoking bygone times. It was a dark introspection where his own self was at the centre of doubt.
Unlike his neighbour—a high rank government official, Bhat wasn’t able to provide his family a luxurious life. All his salaries would vanish in the middle of a month itself. But then, he never denied his family basic necessities of life. But yes, he failed to fulfill some of his wife’s dreams and her desires.
In his office, he was extremely hardworking official—a model worker, free from any corruption. Honesty was his image. But his colleagues would often mock at his efforts. “Look, in every office there are three types of workers,” his colleague Imtiyaz told him once over a lunch. “There are donkeys, who work rigorously and are backbones of organization. But they get peanuts for their massive contributions.
And then there are horses, who are being appreciated as per their work and worth. And third and the finest category of workers are called racing horses. They do minimal but smart work, and end up reaping maximum benefits. Now, decide yourself, which category you fit in.”
The message couldn’t have been more direct!