Kaadhal enbathu edhu varai… (or What is love)

Chandra Babu’s immortal words in “kadhal enbathu edhu varai’ had me thinking… (yes I can sense all of you smirking – me, thinking?)

R and I have been married for 20 years.  When I got married at the tender J age of 26, I had all these fantastic dreams – now I finally have someone who will shower me with love and gifts and romance, who will adore me and will want to paint my portrait while I sleep….don’t laugh – I was serious about the painting stuff….

But the reality was he forgot my birthday the very first year of our married life – which was in fact 4 months after we got married. I went to sleep thinking I was going to have this romantic wake up with a pretty gift, but alas..……we woke up, we got ready to go to work (we both worked at Digital Equipment those days) and he never remembered to even wish me, never mind a gift.

I have fought over this so many times.  My birthdays were cause for high tension.  He, having messed up big time the first year, became nervous around my birthday every year and tried to overcompensate.  I on the other hand, played the victim so well that it was almost impossible to please me!  So the first few years were a wash!

Some of the memorable fiascos:

Right after S was born, someone had told him that a nice gift should be given to the new mom.  My mom who was here at that time, let the cat out of the bag.  She told me, a big smile on her face, that he’d gotten me something and was bringing it to the hospital.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  He came with a big bag.  I opened it and found this BIG, FLUFFY, pink bathrobe!  ’nuff said.

When I turned 30, he thought and thought, and acted like I was going to get something special.  I pestered and pestered until he gave me a clue – a custom-ordered  designer thing.  My expectations sky rocketed – designer handbag? Designer jewelry? Clothes?  Shoes? (this was the guy who, when we were engaged, made me stand on a sheet of paper so he could get my foot size to buy me shoes on his trip to Delhi!)

My birthday finally came, and I got –  are you ready for this? ……….a RICE BAG that I could stick in the microwave and use for massaging my tired neckI It had a very nice design on it.  It was specially made for me – it had some wheat as well as rice grains!

Wow! I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. (I ended up getting mad). He was always thoughtful in his gifts but I wanted ROMANCE – I wanted chocolates, flowers, a nice dinner without the kids (for which he would have SECRETLY arranged a babysitter). – but over the years I got big fluffy bathrobes, heating pads, kitchen gadgets and the like when he did get me something. There were a few where I got nothing.

The next big fiasco was when he watched the QVC channel and ordered a hair straightener that promised to make the kinkiest south Indian hair silky smooth in seconds.  It was designed as a heatable brush that you put in your hair and roll.  All I’m going to say about that is there was some screaming, there was a hot brush stuck in my curly hair, and he had to come and unfurl and yank it out!  He packed it away.  I’ve never seen it since.

But over the years, as we grew and our marriage matured, it happened. I can’t pinpoint the date or the year. Somewhere in between his demanding career and my job and the exhausting job of raising 2 young kids, I no longer cared for the so-called romantic gifts/gestures. I honestly don’t care if he doesn’t give me a single gift anymore. I actually love my heatable rice bag when I am achy at the end of a long day, and the big fluffy robe on cold days. I quit expecting gifts – not with the least bit of bitterness.

And he started buying me jewelry and taking me out more. It is nice, but it is like the icing. I didn’t really need them anymore. I really love it when he offers to bring home dinner some nights when he knows I am tired.

And started doing the weekly grocery shopping because he knows I don’t enjoy going to 3 different grocery stores, and he actually enjoys it.

And has coffee brewing in the morning when I wake up (he wakes up half an hour before me).

And best of all, one day I’d been cooking for a whole half day when he said “let me give you a foot massage.”

Just to name a few!