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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Wedded to the vows

Col Avnish Sharma (retd), Hindustan Times   March 09, 2013
First Published: 09:04 IST(9/3/2013) | Last Updated: 11:30 IST(9/3/2013)

To remind my married friends and for the information of prospective members of the married club, we all take vows during the wedding ceremony. These promises, initiated by our respected religious teachers, are repeated by both bride and groom.

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In due course, these pass off as mere formalities in most cases and tend to get forgotten. One such vow the groom takes goes this way: "You will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide welfare and happiness for you and our children." The bride's vow is: "I am responsible for the home and all household responsibilities."

My wife took a fancy to the very first vow out of the seven that we took that fateful day 28 years ago. Since then, my better half has ensured I fulfil the vow in right earnest, while at home she has not let me move a finger except the onerous task of managing the bar, which though, remains in her control except when my 'bar-inclined' friends come calling.

Everything was fine till I quit the army and started spending more time at home. The lady of the house was perturbed by this premature intrusion in her privacy and hobnobbing in domestic chores. She soon realised the agony of the longevity of her side of the deal compared to mine. Very soon, household tasks started falling into my lap. It began with me making my own cup of morning tea to serving other busy members of the family a cuppa of their choice. Since this territory had remained uncharted so far, getting used to the storages in the kitchen was a challenge.

The other day, before the aforesaid task became my responsibility, a neighbourhood friend of mine dropped over and I made the usual offer of tea without realising my wife was out on an evening walk. The rigmarole of venturing into the kitchen and the uphill task of making tea ended with my friend sipping the beverage without sugar since I couldn't find the pot of sugar despite a 45-minute search. So much for division of work.

The flip side was a face-saver for me. The call bell to the servant quarters went dysfunctional and I was promptly ordered to have it replaced by the evening. The spiralling fuel prices necessitate combining outside jobs. So, with my wife in the passenger seat we set out on errands. She signalled me to stop in a busy marketplace to collect her clothes from the tailor. I meekly requested her to also get a call bell from the adjoining shop. Not too happy with this additional burden, she nodded in a huff. After a while, I could see her walking back with a smile and the bell in hand. She mockingly disclosed that she had managed the bell for half the price and boasted about her bargaining skills. She added that we could have saved a fortune all these years had she not stuck to the 'binding' wedding vow!

Back home, the bell refused to ring. A special trip was made to the market to replace it. A costlier one but still cheaper than the one I procured last was bought, alas, to meet the same fate. The third attempt was a fiasco again before I offered to get hold of one . The call bell has been installed and normalcy restored at last. More than anything, we are back to our original charter of duties, though I still continue to struggle with the additional burden of making my own tea in the morning.
pandit_49@rediffmail.com

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