OPN 200421 Working from home-1587457312499
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Sadly, the coronavirus lockdown has spawned something even more nastier — domestic abuse — and the poor husbands are bearing the brunt.

“Listen, you better wash this plate. After the dishes, knead the dough for the rotis (bread), I had enough of you just lolling about,” says the wife.

On the giant TV screen in the living room, the anchor announces that news reports are coming in from various cities that husbands are pleading to get back to work in their offices


Husband (trying to polish apples): “Darling, you do not need any make-up. You are already as pretty as the blood moon in a cloudless sky. The touch of grey in your hair gives you a statuesque look, like Indira Gandhi, very regal.”

(Indira Gandhi, incidentally was the Indian prime minister who promulgated emergency powers in the country and declared herself boss lady).

The other half, holding a rolling pin: “Come here. Are you trying to ‘maska’ (butter) me? The salon is closed now for a month. (The salon, for some inexplicable reason is called, ‘My Hair Lady’).

“Only essentials will run, they say. What do men know about what is essential and what is not essential.

“On top of that, our horrible housing association will not let me smuggle Ricky, the Manipuri girl, into my flat for a quick facial, waxing and hair colouring,” says the wife.

In daydream mode

Husband: “I can cut your hair. It will be very romantic, just like Anushka giving Virat a haircut,” and he goes off into a daydream mode.

Wife: “Enough! No more Hindi movies for you. Can’t you watch religious programmes like our neighbour?”

Husband: “The Saxenas are evil. They talk behind your back. Our driver told me one day that they say you like garlic. By the way, do we have to keep paying the driver to do nothing. He is like the CEO of a bank who gets a huge bonus while he is ripping off the NPAs, umm, non-performing assets.”

On the giant TV screen in the living room, the anchor announces that news reports are coming in from various cities that husbands are pleading to get back to work in their offices.

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“It is terrible, really horrible, working from home,” a husband, with a black eye, is nearly crying with an emotion-choked voice.

Meantime, the other equally horrific by-product of the lock down is that couples after many hours together, start to look like each other, according to one study.

Look like each other

“Forget about opposites attract and all that,” says one psychologist. “That is an old cliche. The main clincher (in love) is that both, man and woman, tend to like the same things. Over time they also start ‘mirroring’ each other, mimicking the gestures the other partner makes. Then you put two such people together in a lock down and they start to look like each other.”

(The other alarming thing is that even pets start to look like their owners after some years, says another psychologist. He is right. I saw a sad-looking dog with a long face the other day, being taken for a walk by a sad-looking lady).

Me greeting our neighbour, whom we had not met for three years: “Hello, Mr Vardarajan, nice to see you after such a long time. What is that disgusting thing in your hand? Oh, the wet garbage! And who is this, your twin brother?

Mr Vardarajan with a puzzled look: “This is Sobha, my wife, she gave you bise bele bath from time to time, don’t you remember?”

(Bise bele bath sounds very hygienic but it is a local Kannada dish of lentils, rice, vegetables and a special spicy curry powder. The dish loosely translates as, “hot lentil gooey dish”.

Me, embarrassed and blabbering: ”Oh, yes, hehe. It’s amazing how you look like each other,” I say as the wife glares at me.

— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi