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Filing the 'love return'

In the world of feelings and emotions, what would construe as income or gain? Arif Zakaria wonders.

sex and relationships Updated: Oct 10, 2008 20:16 IST

My annual financial accounts were submitted to the tax authorities last week. Through statements of profit and loss and a balance sheet, I had a glimpse of my net worth — money made and losses incurred.

Now here’s a question? How about compiling an annual return on our relationships? Let’s say, we prepare a statement of account on our associations, how would we go about it?

Financial statements comprise income and expenses, assets and liabilities, net worth and return on capital. In a world of feelings and emotions, what would construe as income or gain? Who would be our asset and liability?

Short-term losses
I’m hoping some people in the confines of their homes, temples or mosques, rosaries in have, has muttered my name to the lord — that is ‘income’ big time!

I’ve made new friends and been generous to my staff. My heart brims with joy for the million moments I spend with my young son — all this would construe as investments.

Since relationships need to be nurtured. I look upon my spouse as an investment too, although with mood swings, temper tantrums and an expansive shopping list. The return on this investment fluctuates.

I consider the tiffs, phases of disagreements and domestic squabbles ‘short-term losses’. She wants me to consider the last lashing from her as ‘long term capital gain’. In the future, if she contemplates cosmetic surgery, then I will treat that as ‘dividend on investment’.

My assets
Parents, siblings, children automatically construe as ‘assets’ and I have tried hard to constantly ‘appreciate’ these assets through acts, words and deeds.

But I have a few additional assets this year — my baby’s maid, my cook and my spot boy. I keep them in good cheer and overlook their inconsistencies, in the hope that the ‘value’ of these assets appreciates with time.

A close friend who always pays for dinner, a confidante who keeps all my secrets and a relative who hasn’t asked for his money back, they’re all capital gains. A colleague who now earns more than me, travels business class and flashes designer brands is to be treated as a ‘discarded asset’.

Exciting outcome
‘Net losses’ are mounting. These include — the knees hurting on the treadmill at high speed, the PYT who smiled at me in the elevator, finally addressed me as ‘Uncle’, the waiter at the neighborhood deli after taking my order, pointed to the wife seated across and inquired whether ‘my daughter’ will have the same for starters — all these are big time losses for sure!

The scalp showing through increasingly with every haircut is ‘loss carried forward to next year’. If an email or letter arrives from an ex-girlfriend, I will account it under ‘income from other sources’. The friendly young mothers at my child’s playschool are to be treated as a ‘windfall’.

But seriously, won’t it be great to assess our relationships, gauge the quantum of our feelings through these annual returns on relationships? Every relationship is an unwritten contract anyway and comes with a presumption of performance, adherence to its ‘clauses’, and whether we like it or not, we do weigh our gains and losses.

So let’s add, multiply, subtract, and divide our associations. I promise the outcome will be more exciting than our real financial figures. You can file this return to me.