Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Opposites Attract? Oh Really?

He banged the door shut, causing the flimsy doormat to lazily move away from the door, flipping slightly at the corner. "Damn!" he muttered, glaring angrily at the now innocent doormat."It was the wind!" he shouted to the empty door and walked away from it. He nodded absently at the new neighbor, racking his head to remember the last one before finally giving up, frustrated.

She heard him allright--choosing to ignore the particularly angry tone. Sighing, she looked at her mother's vague recipe, printed from her email account. She stared at it absently for two full minutes before switching off the stove, snatching the printout to decipher her mom's words. "What is salt to taste supposed to mean" she mumbled furiously, an unknown anger rising at her mother, sleeping-no, snoring far away in Bangalore.

He glanced at her shopping list, quickly planning a route that should make most sense. Turning on the ignition, he backed up slowly, choosing not to put down the foot on the accelerator. She always hated that, wanting to reverse as quickly as possible. "As if she is always in some tearing hurry" he thought. She was like that, permanently impatient. Little things that he derived pleasure from, driving slowly in the parking lot, glancing at the cars and convertibles, could easily make her angry. "Patience!" he thought as he swerved onto the street lane. "when will she ever learn?". It always irritated him to see her rush through everything like time was running out for the world.He felt a delicious satisfaction at taking time with his shopping, knowing very well the delay will upset her even more.

She finally got the idea of the recipe, and restarted the stove.She knew very well he will take more time today, that it was an attempt to make her angrier still. She clucked her tongue loudly as she glanced at the clock "4 PM already!". How was she to know her cousin will be late by a couple of hours? She certainly couldnt turn them away when they came, even if it was for dinner instead of tea.He had become restless, worried he would miss a cricket match at a friend's place.He had paced up and down, wanting to call them and cancel their plans to come home."Whats the point in watching half of a one-day"he had asked, furious."Patience, he will never learn" she thought resignedly. He was always like that, wanting everything to go according to his whims, turning wildly impatient if it didnt. She knew very well that she could pack her cousin off after dinner well in time for the match, if only he had the patience."Serves him right if they come late" she thought savagely, now wishing they were too late for the match tonite.

He would have laughed ordinarily at the shopping list-today it made him angrier. "nanak ghee big bottle, if not mehendi ghee a small bottle, unless with a free pickle in whichcase get two [one for soumya]". He was just glad he didnt ask for the list over phone as usual. "Thinks too much!" he thought.He couldnt understand why she had to be so methodical and planned, planning for the day, the chores and errands. He used to joke that she was his school teacher, making a neat timetable for tasks to do around the house and errands to run. Now it just grated on his nerves looking at the magnetic sheets on the fridge. Even when it came to people, she overanalyzed everything. "what did she say, why did she say it, how did she say it" --she could go on for ages analyzing people after a party, thinking about each person's comment. "Pointless details" he thought. How did it matter what ghee? or what chores were planned for saturday morning. He liked to have a general idea of things and work his way to complete them, without planning."Must be a woman thing" he thought, looking at other women at the grocery store, imagining everyone to be overanalyzing shoppers and imagining their husbands to be confused souls like him.

She knew she was getting impatient at the time he took. Even if she knew it was on purpose. "I am sure he planned his route to be the most 'OPTIMAL' way to drive" she thought angrily. She hated the way he overanalyzed his driving. Shooting to the store quickly to get samosas and snacks some evenings turned into a laborious process. He would shortlist samosa shops by location, point out traffic conditions and which would be the most crowded stores at that time. Then he would map out the 'easiest' path for her--by which time she would have had her chai and sat in a huff by the T.V, insisting she REALLY didnt want samosas actually."Overanalyzer", she used to call him fondly. She preferred not to travel with him for short shopping trips anymore. Restaurants were the worst--he would pore over the menu like he was cramming for an exam, thinking about each dish and its side-servings to great detail. She pitied the waiter, often having to tell him to come back later instead of shuffle at the table,waiting for him to finish pondering over the order. She had half a mind to get the other car out and get the stuff herself. She toyed with the cordless, wondering if she should ask where he was, but decided against giving him the cheap thrill of making her angry.

At the checkout he glanced at the flowers--lilies this week. She loved them, buying them by the dozens and filling the home with the silly glass vases with the flowers. He bought a bunch at the last minute, telling himself he could justify that it was to make the home look good for the visitors. He knew she couldnt stay angry with him for long, and she positively loved little things like flowers and chocolates. He often wondered how they had grown so fond of each other, considering how different they were. She was romantic and sentimental, totally the opposite of him. He thought of it all as impractical, pointless ideas. "Like Valentine's day" he thought, giving a dirty look to the clump of red heart-shaped chocolate boxes."Another expensive dinner" he muttered. But he knew he would love taking her out, seeing her happily enjoy the day, prepare for it and make a big deal of it. Impractical fool that she was, he loved her for the same silliness. He stuffed the bunch of flowers indelicately into the shopping bag and headed to his car.

She decided not to shop by herself, that would be silly. Two bags of exactly similar groceries. If he was going to be silly and take a long time to get the groceries,so be it.He could be like that sometimes, silly and childish. Sometimes she wondered if he was even 35, he acted so immature. Like the whole big deal of a cricket match tonite. If he would think practically, it would be obvious they couldnt stay too long, and he could make it to the match. "Practical, yeah right" she thought, looking at the monstrous table he had bought, insisting it was the best strategically placed furniture for their living room. It had to be hoisted up by 4 of their movers, all beefy guys who'd demanded an insanely huge amount to bring it up. He had looked quite sheepish then, insisting it was worth it. More people had gotten hurt by the monster than used it.He had apologized and very sweetly tried to show how many ways it could be used, making her heart melt. He didnt ask for many things, she thought generously. Cricket matches were a definite craze, and she knew they didnt have too many chances to watch it. She suddenly picked up the phone to dial and waited patiently while it rang.

He knocked the door, even though he was perfectly able to use the key to open the door. He wanted to see her mood before pulling out the half-squashed flowers. He didnt have a plan for what to do if she was still angry, he simply hoped she wasnt. She wasnt. She opened the door and gave a small smile, taking the bags and trying to hug him and say sorry at the same time. He laughed, relieved. She pulled out the ill-concealed flowers, squealing delightedly. He hugged her with half his arm, mood instantly getting better. He even thought he could handle the "relatives" today. She winked at him when he said that, gaily telling him she had called it off. Her cousin was due to fly out tonite anyway, she said. "Mom will crib a bit" she said "but hey, i was never close to her anyway". They both fell laughing into the sofa, and he grimaced as he hit the monstrous table. "Do you realize how different we are, yet we always seem to patch up our differences?" she asked lazily, stretching her legs and cozying up in the corner. "I do, but hey, opposites attract right?" he said as he tried to adjust the position of the table so it wont hurt anyone, for the umpteenth time.

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