It happens several times a year, but is usually at it’s worst when one financial year ends and another begins. The hugsband loses himself at work. And by loses himself, I mean completely. Long hours, unhealthy meals eaten at work and a phone line that’s permanently engaged are just the tip of the iceberg. In the off chance that I get through to him to ask if he has eaten anything, or if he’d like me to bring him some food, I get the predictable monosyllabic response, that sounds something like “mmrbrkj”. The rest of the “conversation” is mostly telegraphic answers quickly followed up with the usual “Okay-I’ve-gotto-go-bye!”
And that is how it’s been for a little over a month now. The days are blending one into another. I often can’t tell weekends apart from weekdays. I’m mostly pottering about the house doing my work, cooking for one (which suits me just fine given the oppressive heat), taking off on my own and just going about my business. It also means music plays as loud as I please, food shows are watched on loop and several movies and books are being hungrily finished off in bed. Along with cake. The cake I make for two, but usually end up finishing all on my own. I cannot complain. The single life has never thrived as much.
Things have been working on clockwork, and I’ve realise what an utter creature of habit I am. I like things to function with some kind of order about them, a loose routine within which to amble. And I realised that it is mostly possible to enforce this on myself, and therefore much easier to have this ordered existence when I am on my own. When the weekend rolls along, having the hugsband out of the way means I can do gloriously mundane things like change the sheets, dust the fans, clear up neglected corners — without having him turn into a sneezy mess as he usually does. I have re-discovered the inexplicable love for mindless domestic activity and the unexpected happiness they sometimes bring. This is the good part about not having to do them on my own, all the time. I am so very grateful for the help I have, and the fact that I can turn essential everyday tasks into the occasional fun thing to do, because I have someone to do it for me when I am not looking.
I am always telling the hugsband how its only weekends that seem to turn the home upside down. Visit my house at the end of a weekend when we’ve both been home, and you’ll know what I mean. Things are usually in a state of visible disarray — just the way VC likes them to be. We’ve come a long way from the days of socks and tees lazily chucked on the bedroom floor and newspapers left open for sheets to fly about, but we’re still working around things like the dining table becoming the blackhole for everything that has a place but he is too lazy to go find. And so I have been taking full advantage of this extended time of absence on VC’s part and the luxury of not constantly picking up and putting things back. It really means that things just stay organised, as opposed to me constantly trying to set right, everything that’s not. And him trying to keep up with me. Or at least pretending to.
But the Ides of (February and)March have hit us bad. Not only is VC facing the full force of it at work, but I am dealing with my fair share of pains in the posterior. Add to it the heat. It really ought to be officially declared the month to do absolutely nothing. Because everything about it seems to be designed to make you want to slow down, slump over and not move. I have been restricting going out to the very least, cooking one pot things to minimise kitchen time, spending a bulk of my time poring over my work, going at it with astonishing alacrity, in order to get it done and out of the way before my trip. It makes entire days collapse into large chunks of time. Before I know it the day is done, and that distinct rumble in my stomach usually announces that it’s dinner time so I should probably move away from the desk.
Saturday presented a rare but large enough skirmish between the hugsband and I, over a totally forgettable event, but which was basically my trigger. See, as much as I love being alone, I hate being the only one to take charge — which is usually the case. Because when work takes over VC’s mind, everything else slips to the dark, forgotten recesses. He fancies himself to be busier than the prime minister of India, almost like the rest of us are mostly just twiddling our thumbs and whiling away time. In addition to managing the home, cooking meals and my work, I was disgruntled about having to manage the installation of a new wifi connection, at the hands of service men who operate in a country that refuses to take women seriously. I was pissed off about being the one to remind him day after day to call the aunt and offer his condolences. I hate that I’ve had to remind him to finish some bank errands for over four weeks now (they’re still not done, btw). You get the drift.
So while the squabble was unnecessary, my gripe wasn’t. I can sympathise with an unusually high workload, and I do by being supportive in ways that I can. But I usually have no sympathy for the side of him that takes me for granted because his brain has turned into a sieve from which everything apart from his work slips away. Off the back of that tiff, and after spending several weeks alone, mostly indoors, I finally made plans for the weekend. I decided I would go catch an early Sunday morning show to watch Queen a second time, and then take my letter writing and current unputdownable book to the beach, where I would probably spend the day, only to return to cook dinner. For one, as per the usual. It was a simple plan. But one that held so much promise. And after the tiff, it was a plan that was going to make a statement: the single life is becoming the norm around here.
Sunday rolled along, I woke up with the mother of all cramps. Months of feeling great and like I have finally fought the monsters out of my system have been dashed, because I was relegated to bed. My big plan for a Sunday Spent in Solitude remained just that — a plan. I might have made the mistake of building it up a little too much in my head and invariably reality falls way short of the anticipated results. Because when Sunday came along, the hugsband decided to stay home.
What kind of man who has set a pattern of not being around for the most part suddenly decides to change his mind on just the day I was looking forward to being alone?! If I weren’t writhing in pain, I might have been pissed off. But it’s hard to stay mad when you are served tea, in bed. When breakfast, several rounds of hot-water-bottles and back rubs are administered, in bed. When the entire morning passes you by, in bed. When you rise and shine, in time for beer and banter. When you end up chatting and catching up more than you have over the last many weeks. When lunch is an indulgent biryani followed by overly sweet malai-sandwiches. When the afternoon makes you crawl back into the comforts of a long, long nap at 18 degrees celsius. When at the end of all of that, you end up watching the movie you wanted to all along.
It was a day unlike any other in the recent past. It was quiet, rejuvenating and peaceful. With adequate conversation and silence. Enough time to rest and recoup.
It was as easy to slip back into normalcy, as it was to get used to being alone. And even though the Sunday was nothing like the life I’ve been living and loving, it was like things going back to normal again, and I loved it.