For a few days now, I’ve been reminded of a rather special and memorable evening with two dear girlfriends in my kitchen of yore in the Nordics when the man of the house was away on a work trip.
The plan had been to persuade one of my friends, an ardent homebird and ever loyal and dutiful wife and new mother to get away for about two hours for an all girls evening at my place with some communal cooking and eating.
I was heavily pregnant at the time and although moving around leave alone cooking or co-cooking Indian pancakes from scratch in that part of the world was an especially challenging task in that condition, I thought it would give us three something fun and new to do and I would of course get to gluttonously feast on the smells and tastes I was beginning to miss terribly.
Once we had all gotten ourselves a fair number of pancakes on our plates and into our stomachs, and a delicious combination of lethargy and satisfaction starting setting in, our conversation moved swiftly as it always did to our men.
Of the three, I was the only one in an inter national/racial marriage and we all knew that it was all the more exciting to spend a little extra time on probing me and goading me to spill out at least a few nuggets of ‘wisdom’ from my supposed vantage point in apparently ‘cracking’ it with so many more differences.
I loved to shock them by quoting the Other Inhabitant of the House (OIH) and his surprisingly candid views on what he called the lot of men and the baggage of masculinity.
One of the things he used to love to say was that I along with all other women he cared for should be ever grateful to have been spared being born male. He’d shake his head and say, “Rajya, you dont want to know what goes on in our heads, nearly all the time. And I mean the best of us. The ones you girls think are kind, gracious, well read and so on.
“I just think we haven’t evolved very much, you know? And really, we should be forever grateful that you girls care to spend any time with us at all!”
Now, not that the OIH felt this way at all times or even remembered what he had said to me. But that he had said it at all! THAT to me was marvellous. And my girlfriends of course were in absolute awe that I lived with a guy who had the courage to say what he did and wondered for good reason whether the unusual candour and courage extended to include other parts of our life as a couple too.
I still remember how proud I was while telling them about his candour and while enjoying an absolutely pleasant and wonderful evening with two intelligent, insightful and generous friends I felt a stab of longing for the OIH who was away at the time.
You will not believe it if I tell you that so much has happened over the last three years that OIH and I dont live in the same house or country any more. And there is much to be said about the unfortunate and miserable ways in which a sparkly connection between two people can unravel.
But I am able to see very clearly three years on from that evening, in the gathering gloom that define Nordic winters, that the jab of pride, joy and thrill one can feel while being entwined with someone, (no matter how entwined or not entwined the other person feels with you), is absolutely marvellous and is undoubtedly one of those few, necessary experiences everybody must subject themselves to — to just know, first hand, what immersion in another’s life, thoughts, habits, feelings is about.
Although the demands of everyday life impinge quickly on this nearly spiritual experience, the moment and passage of immersion is worth ALL the heart break and sorrow and desolation that it inevitably wreaks, on oneself and others.
The only exception to that, is perhaps the onset and responsibility of parenthood. Which is a whole another kind of immersion.
But more on that in another post.