“You’ve a lovely nose!” he said to me one day a good many years ago..
I wrinkled my nose and tried to look down it to see what was so good about it. Having never heard anything about my nose from anyone all of my twenty four years (for that had been my age during the time), this was news to me. I had heard a lot about my long hair from a lot of people, but nothing about my nose, never ever. It was just a nose as noses go as far as I was concerned. I had never given it a second thought up till that moment when the Lord and Master had came up with the compliment.
“You’ve a lovely nose!”
Hmm… I was skeptical and looked at him doubtfully. He was not pulling my leg, was he?
“What do you mean ‘lovely nose’? You are joking!!” I told him.
“Of course not!” he said, “You do have a nice nose. Lovely shape!”
I was secretly thrilled. Which brand new wife of hardly a year wouldn’t be? I walked to the mirror and checked my nose. I turned left and right and looked at it from different angles. Nothing spectacular. Nothing to give Cleopatra a complex anyway. It was, like I said, just a nose as noses go. The same I have been seeing sticking out of my face for the past twenty-four years. But… if the L&M thought it looked good, it must look good, I decided, pleased. That had been almost quarter century ago.
A word about the L & M. He is more than six feet tall and well built. I call him my ‘Giant Teddy Bear.’ As for me, I stand all of five feet tall and at the time when noses were being praised, well I mean nose because I have only one to my credit, weighed around 41-42 kgs. With the passing of years, I have grown into the heavy weight category, leaving behind those years of being a featherweight far behind. Anyways…
The problem with the Giant is that, he does not know his own strength. If he is in a hurry, which he always is, and I am standing in his way, he shoves me aside and almost topples me over. Many is the time I have looked reproachfully at his retreating back. Wasted of course, he not having no eyes at the back of his head to see that oh-so perfect reproachful look. So I had to do the next best thing, namely tell him. “Hey you pushed me!” I said, adding the reproachful look for added effect. That got his attention alright. He would turn back puzzled.
“I pushed you??!!” he would ask. “When??!!!”
“Just now!” More reproachful looks. “when you walked past.” Hint of tears in the eyes.
“Of course not!” he would deny indignantly. “Would I ever push you??” Horrified look. “Whatever for??” Questioning look.
“But you did push me!” I stand my ground.
He tries to rewind and asks, “Oh you mean when I gently shoved you aside to make way?”
Gently my foot.
“It was not gentle.” I am firm. “You push me all the time and I almost fall.”
“Of course I don’t mean to make you fall!!”
“You don’t know your own strength” I tell him.
He is unconvinced.
“Better be careful next time!” I warn him.
Sigh. It took many more such reminders before the Giant learnt that he really didn’t know his own strength. He shakes my hand and my bones nearly break. He says he will oil my hair and I am surprised that at the end of it I have any hair left on my head. He massages my leg and my skin burns. If I tell him about all this, he is nonplussed and the soft-hearted man he is, he is hurt.
Then one day he pushes me aside one more time, while walking past and sees with his own eyes me toppling over and valiantly trying to prevent myself from falling. At long last, the truth dawns on him.
Now what has all this go to do with my nose? Good question. Let me get to that now.
It’s all very well to admire your wife’s nose. He not only did the admiring but now and then affectionately (well, I hope it had been affectionately) used to say that he would box it (the beautiful nose) out of shape. Now what happens one fine day about ten years into our marriage?
It is holiday time and we are getting ready to go on our annual visit to our hometown down south. Our train is to start at 6 p.m. It is noon. The packing is almost all done. Only some last minute work is left. Lunch will be brought from the Officers’ Mess. It is then that the orderly walks in to announce that there is a visitor.
The L&M who is doing some last minute work, is in his vest. He quickly grabs a shirt and walks down the corridor slipping it on, a man-in-a-hurry as always. I am standing next to the phone in the corridor while he is walking past. He slips his right hand into one sleeve and brings it down. Now the left hand goes into the other sleeve and down it swings, the elbow going ‘thud’ right at my nose, the lovely one at that.
Stars explode in front of my eyes even as my horrified husband turns around worried and solicitous. My eyes are watering. The pain is terrible. And there is the Giant asking ‘n’ number of questions as to whether it hurt (what a question!!) how was I feeling, how did it happen, why had I been standing there, can he do something to help etc etc. when all I want is some quiet while I absorb the pain.
Finally, I nod and tell him I am ‘okay’ taking care all the while to keep my nose well away from him. After making sure I am okay, he goes off to meet his guest, while I go in to wipe away a few drops of blood and check in the mirror if he has really kept his word and hit it out of shape. My lovely nose. A look in the mirror reveals that the shape is still intact. Phew, what a relief. After all hadn’t the L & M been a boxer?
The outcome of this little incident is that I tease him mercilessly that the whole thing had been a stage-managed affair. “You did it on purpose!” I tell him with a straight face. He had been so jealous of my nose, I add, that he had actually tried to hit it out of shape. Poor man, he has no choice, but to live with it.
© Shail Mohan 2008