They have been married for nearly forty years. They have been so much together that they have started looking alike. Their marriage is considered a perfect one, with no financial dependency, children acquiescent, obeisant and well settled. People heralded their union as one of its kind, people say “We need to learn a lot from them, how they are each other’s support system, standing through thick and thin and of course, how well they passed on their virtues to their children!”
When they were young, they had decided to focus completely on their children, for them, like any Indian, children were their sole treasure. They used to say to each other “When we are old, we will have all the time in the world, then we will focus on things that will keep us busy and happy.” Their children kept saying “We are so lucky to have Pa & Ma. Wish, we can a lead a harmonious wedded life like them.”
After retirement, he fell sick, she nursed him and he acknowledged her part in his recovery. He fell sick again, but this time, the severity was more than he had anticipated. He was bedridden; thoughts clogged his mind “Am I a burden to her? Is she looking after me because of love or out of duty?” Any discomfort on her part, he interpreted it as her vexation. He adopted an approach of sudden outbursts and harsh words on her. Initially, she took it in her stride, she remained silent, and she remembered the good old days when he had been a supportive partner.
Slowly, but steadily his words began to hurt her profusely. She couldn’t just take in his hatred. She thought “What has changed? What did I do wrong? My silence is being taken for granted.” She started questioning him about his angst. Her questions riled him up; he thought “She no longer needs me. Our children will take care of her, very well.”
They start digging up the past, the incidents when they were hurt by each other’s actions and words. He declares “Forty years of my life with you have been the most difficult.” She is shocked, as tears flow from her eyes; she whispers “You’ve been a good father, not a good husband.”
Their children come to know about the situations at home. They grow anxious, together they prepare the lectures and admonitions which they need to give to Pa & Ma. When they dial up home, their parents together say “You are not grown enough to lecture us. You don’t have to interfere in our affairs; we know how to sort out our issues.” The children are amused and astonished at the absurd turn of events.