"Shall I cut some apples?" asked my granny-in-law perched on the sofa overlooking the breakfast table.
This is why I hate to be seen in the same frame with smartheart: I suddenly get reduced from an apple to an orange in the eyes of anyone who sees us together and by-default get comPARED.
I can understand why my in-laws would make smartheart’s viewpoint sound like a revelation although I may have said the same thing the other day. Ninth grade chemistry: Expression of pent-up love becomes flattery when concentrated in the ratio of 7:1 (Smartheart lifts his head up from his laptop and smartphone and it’s Sunday).
My mother-in-law coronates her son by nicknaming him as ‘Raja’ (Hindi for ‘His Majesty’). One day, she was asking the domestic help where the apples lying on the table disappeared. I shrieked, “Rani (Hindi for Raja’s wife) ate them.”
My parents do not hold smartheart as a king in the titular sense. They literally hold him as one. My frail mom gets hyperactive on the news that smartheart is arriving at their house as if her power cord just got plugged into the electric socket. My dad talks to me about smartheart as if he is referencing some higher being I have never seen or met. He sings psalms about smartheart’s foresight to bridled talk to heart-warming courtesy. “Dad, he sounds familiar. Are you talking about my husband by any chance?”
But what’s with our friends? They are not smartheart-starved unlike my in-laws or smartheart-obsessed unlike my parents. Yet they acknowledge smartheart’s comments even though the remarks mundanely follow like an algorithm. On the other hand, they act dumb-struck after I interject a new dimension to the conversation. I remember when smartheart and I were talking with a couple about why a young secretary is essential for our over-worked husbands, I tried to steer the conversation back to the roots: “Wouldn’t one feel conscious if one is shadowed by a secretary all the time?” But imagine, there was a pause after that and then three of them continued talking about from where to attract the profile they were looking for. I know I examine people’s jagged teeth while they are talking to me, gape at the brands they are wearing from top to bottom when they are not talking to me and make it a little too apparent that I’m judging them; but so what.
My gynecologist has formed judgments about me. The expression on her face fluctuates from frown to serenity as she oscillates her head from me to smartheart. I cannot fathom the expansions and contractions on her face from ever since I went to her couple of days after my marriage as a “Hey, just heads up that I’m married.” I specified, “Please educate me about the various gynecological infections, complications and conditions that could possibly occur to me.” I don’t know what’s wrong with being a pre-emptive and aware patient. Furthermore, when smartheart and I went to the doc to seek advice on how to not have a baby for two years that we were studying, smartheart had already compressed my 128 questions into four broad categories. When she prescribed contraception pills, how could I stop myself from enlightening her about the adverse effects of the pills according to Vedas and more importantly my views on it.
And last but also the least: our relatives. The amnesiacs forget they had invited me to their party also. Their first question on seeing me is: “Where is (smartheart’s name)?” As if smartheart is a child playing hide and seek with them and they want me to be the informer. On knowing that smartheart is travelling, they then want to know how he is doing, when he’ll be back and if they could meet with me and smartheart then. “But I am available to meet even before he comes back and I have a life too.”
Someday the season of oranges will also come.