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I’m A MAN, After All! And Men Never Bend, Do They?

Her apologies keep me calm. It makes me feel like a master and so does her parents' feeble behaviour in front of me.

It was a usual morning. I went towards the front door and opened it.

The sun was up and shining and the coolness in the breeze was just apt for my skin. On the floor, over the doormat lay today’s newspaper.

‘How many times have I told the delivery guy to roll and tuck it nicely in the door grill?’

I hate to bend.

I closed the door and walked back inside to get myself a cup of coffee.

I make very good coffee. This is something I prefer to boast about.

‘Yuck! ‘

The messy kitchen gave me a queasy feeling.

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The crumbs and particles of food from yesterday and days before it had carpeted the kitchen floor making the walk sticky and sloppy. The sink was filled to the brim with unwashed crockeries and utensils. The house help was on leave and I was forced to use paper plates to eat leftovers from the refrigerator and order food from outside. Office work kept me occupied and I could hardly think about the household chores.

For a brief moment, I felt like clearing up the mess.

But, I hate to bend.

I pay her for that and prefer her to perform the job. The kitchen is not a man’s place, we get lost easily in this tiny place.

We are meant for greater things in life. To build an empire, make money, enjoy positions and societal awes and praises.

Society judges us based on the aforesaid parameters. Men aren’t here to bow but to rule and make rules for others.

With the coffee in one hand and the newspaper in the other, I plonked on the chocolate brown shaded couch and leafed through its tall pages. It showed me an article that my eyes initially chose to disbelieve.

‘Disha’s small-time spices and condiments business is coming up with an IPO?’

‘Bullshit!’ I cursed under my breath.

These days anyone gets approval to fiddle with public funds.

She didn’t even know the right amount of salt for the curry.

That’s how I remember her, even today.

I kept the newspaper back in an unkempt way and got up to get ready for my morning walk. My yesterday’s grey sweatshirt was waiting for me. I sniffed through its sides and scrunched my nose with disgust.

A fresh dab of body spray made it tolerable again.

My olfactory scrutinized the underarm area again as I dressed up for my jog.

‘Men don’t have to smell good all the time,’ my heart pacified me.

*

The park had its regular visitors apart from the tall trees, well-mowed ground and green, delicately pruned bushes.

Few chose to walk, some jogged and the rest struggled to twist and turn their body in diverse and bizarre yoga postures.

I always prefer to jog.

As I started to trot, my eyes began their usual chore of critically examining the contours and outfits of the opposite sex.

No one can curb a man from ogling, it’s in our DNA. We are born like that. It’s our birthright. Society doesn’t view it as a deplorable act. Well, we even enjoy the liberty to flirt openly with our respective wife’s sisters, don’t we?

As my eyes pandered, I discerned that women these days have turned rebels in their choices of costumes. They no longer take the reproving attitude of people around them.

‘Too much head weight these felines carry, huh!’

Once through with my rounds I invariably choose to stand bare chest and feet under the morning Sun. Its rays are vital to keeping the bones healthy.

I removed my sweatshirt and shoes. As a man, I have the freedom to remain shirtless in public. Society doesn’t assess men based on their attire and attitude.

Remember we are the rule makers!

At an expanse, I saw a young couple walking hand in hand, lost in themselves. That’s how I and Disha were until she began to find my suggestions and remarks on her cooking and decking bothersome. She would often say that I made her breathe down her neck.

It is a strange thing about old conversations. Sometimes, you remember the pauses in between sentences more, the sighs, even the expressions, even if you cannot see them. There were so many days of stoic silence between us. I was never the first to reconcile during those junctures of the cold war.

Initiating a conversation after a spat was a tenet of the henpecked clan and that didn’t hold good in my case.

I abominate and still do, being the first to apologise. This eventually broke my first marriage. Society accepted it without being vituperative and judgemental.

The tag of divorce and widowhood doesn’t in any way blot a man’s image. It didn’t affect my life much except for a fleeting heartache.

*

I returned home and opened the Business Times app and found Disha’s picture among the upcoming promising entrepreneurs of the country. My skin scorched with envy and wrath.

“SUCH A BIT…,” I couldn’t even complete swearing at her photo when my mobile buzzed, it was from my present wife, Anita.

‘What a time to call!’

“You scumbag, when do you plan to come back from your mother’s place? I’m starving here. Do you want to see me rot? The maid too has been absconding for two days,” I roared.

She apologized for her irresponsible attitude. And asked me to book the tickets for her return journey.

“Why can’t you book it by yourself, you dumb parasite?” I barked again.

This time even her parents came forward to soften my temper.

Her apologies keep me calm. It makes me feel like a master and so does her parents’ feeble behaviour in front of me.

After all, Men never bend, do they?

Well, that’s how we are brought up and made to believe, isn’t it?

This story had been shortlisted for our November 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. The author-juror Anuradha Kumar said about this story, “A villain appears here, an entitled male, and this story is really a spoofy, entertaining read. One wished though that he had received some well-deserved comeuppance at the end.” 

Image source: a still from the film Secret Superstar

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About the Author

Vijeta Harishankar

Finance professional,an avid blogger. I write to keep the child in me happy and contented. Contributing author of the poetry anthology Nyctophilia and children's book Airavata. read more...

35 Posts | 55,639 Views

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