Ever since the Babylonians conceptualised a seven-day week based on their lunar calendar and industrial revolution introduced a weekly off, mankind has largely accepted this principle of allowing a day, or sometimes two, off every week in order to allow a human body to recoup.
While the industry has steadfastly adhered to this standard with honesty, there is a section of humanity that has chosen to follow only the letter. Married women have chosen to infer that six days of industrial effort at work does require a day’s break but nowhere has it been stated with any clarity that home-based duly-supervised ‘non-industrial’ effort is disallowed.
Not only does it help maintain husbands’ daily tempo but also polishes their work-at-home skills. Wives of all shades and ages display universal concern that husbands as a species have lagged in the evolutionary march and must be shepherded back on track lest they lose the battle irretrievably. The only day they have to achieve this lofty goal is our weekly off.
Announcing an impending famine
Here’s a typical story: As I returned home this Thursday evening in a mood for my weekly restoration with a stimulating beverage, the lady announced the impending famine we faced in view of deficiency of some critical groceries.
She had planned to try for us a “Baba Ganoush” (a delicious dip made of smoked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, and olive oil- a Levantine dish and a great appetiser) this weekend and all the crucial ingredients were urgently required.
That meant going to the supermarket and all such visits demand great responsibility from husbands as these exotic items have a bewildering variety. Smallest mistakes are costly and may result in having to revisit or a severe reproach. In the interest of efficiency there are 27 other items that a husband is told to buy and an odd miss might culminate in a long embarrassing conversation with her when one reaches the billing counter after a fifteen minute wait.
At home, after much shaking and stirring and baking and spilling, ‘Baba Ganoush’ fails to impress a husband’s plebeian taste. This lack of enthusiastic appreciation invites a chilling wifely glance and one knows that the weekend threatens to be dull and cold.
Cometh the morning and one quietly slips out of the bed to make tea. The game is to not only slip out of the bed inaudibly but also to slip out of the home before the lady wakes. Ready tea goes a long way in keeping the lady occupied and also in an easy temper.
One spends those precious two hours over Golf or tennis without the faintest idea of what awaits him back home. As one returns guilt/trepidation/apprehension vie for being the dominant sentiment.
The home you had left in a reasonable order wears the look of an abode wrecked by a storm. The lady has decided that today is the day when all old cupboards will be reset and a fresh inventory had to be prepared to enable a prompt access to all items.
One gradually learns that she cannot find her favourite set of ear phones and that had resulted in this elaborate exercise. After an hour of this and that one discovers that the ear buds had ensconced themselves in her handbag and this embarrassing discovery only exacerbates the tension.
Invariably behind schedule
My wife, a doctor, reviews articles for a scientific publication and is invariably behind schedule. My role is rather limited and merely involves reading the article thoroughly for grammatical errors, checking relevance of all the references, verify the claims made by the authors, take note of her observations as she dictates (no pun here), write a conclusion of the review process and then take printouts for her record. My wife is rather prone to review her reviews and this entails suffering the above drill again.
A tense lunch follows and then the lady embarks upon the weekly cleanliness drive involving removing all the curtains and vacuum-cleaning (VC) them to her exacting standards of household hygiene. It is a fair division of effort where she points to the curtain while I take it off, VC it to her satisfaction, re-hang it and get ready for the next one. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, said Mahatma Gandhi, she says.
Now, Dubai is a happening place and evenings always have some or the other exhibition or social event. All seasoned husbands will agree that left to our design, we would avoid such visits for these activities result in avoidable waste of time, money and effort.
However, there isn’t much choice in such matters and a placid acquiescence is the safest bet. After an ‘enjoyable’ evening one lurches back to a curtailed dinner and awaits the tranquility that arrives only when she has got her favourite soap going.
How one looks forward to a working day, to relax.
Dr Rakesh Maggon is a Dubai-based specialist ophthalmologist with an interest in literature