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Every weekday at lunch time I watch a nonsensical comedy show on television. On second thoughts, let me amend that: Every weekday at lunchtime I am forced to watch a nonsensical comedy show on television. 

Don’t let that make you jump to all the wrong conclusions. No one’s holding a gun to my head or holding my near and dear ones to ransom. My camera is still mine and I have books galore downloaded to my Kindle (ahh what a delicious treat!) which is on my table as of now. Plus, I have the use of unlimited internet time at my disposal. Paradise, one would say except for the weather which at the time is steaming, boiling hot, to be precise, not that that is any reason to be watching, or forced to watch, asinine shows on television.

The question then arises, ‘Then, why?’ That’s because this is the one that airs around lunchtime and more importantly, the one that the L&M has got into his head is THE show to watch, something light during lunch, my dear. From the fact that he is still hale and hearty after putting me through this ordeal day after day, you the general public, must surmise just how much I love him because if it had been anyone else I’d have been behind bars for having used their head for target practice with the flower-pots scattered liberally around my house. Anyways…

Elsewhere I have written about how the L&M and I differ in our tastes on most things. Nowhere is it more glaring than in the choice of programs to watch on TV. Of course, if I suggest changing channels he will do it, though reluctantly. Come to think of it, what guarantee do I have that the next one won’t be worse still?

I am thinking of one particular day, a birthday of mine, when he had a takeaway dinner ordered, with a movie to go with it. The wonderful food turned to sawdust in my mouth when I saw what was happening on screen. A man was chopping up into pieces a woman he had murdered earlier, and piling the pieces in the boot of his car. He then drove to some place and started taking the pieces out to bury.

I looked at the L&M. He was looking at the screen and happily munching on his food. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he had just ruined my birthday with his choice of movie. not after all the trouble, he went to. So I spent the rest of the dinner steadfastly refusing to look up from my plate and watch what the serial killer was up to next. And no, the L&M didn’t even notice what I was up to.

The problem with me is, I don’t have the heart to break another heart. I’d rather be uncomfortable than make another uncomfortable. Or rather I am way too uncomfortable when others are made uncomfortable, which they are (and I can sense it) when forced to watch what I prefer. That certainly doesn’t mean I have not been throwing gentle suggestions left, right and center, also dropping hints as huge as bricks. Nothing happens. He clings to the show and I console myself this is better than watching a graphic scene of a serial killer at work.

Now to the show against which I am ranting. The main characters are a husband who is a Village Officer (VO) and his wife, a lawyer.  Then you have an odd jobs man who keeps dropping in and who has the unfortunate job of having to listen to their complaints about each other, mediate and at other times align with one or the other to bring down the opposite side. There are other characters too, who make up the staff in the village office where the VO rules with an iron hand (read, makes an ass of himself). The rest of the cast are as per the need of individual episodes, and they appear, disappear, also reappear, as the case maybe.

I cannot honestly say I have never seen anyone so obnoxious as the VO in the show. I have seen, see them still, all around me, the men who think they are lords of everything they survey, who do nothing other than read newspapers in the morning and guzzle tea or coffee, order the wife to iron clothes ($%#*&^%$!!!), get the food (both breakfast at home and lunch to carry to office) ready, constantly nag them while they go about their work, unfairly comparing them to whosoever comes to their mind.  Yup, our VO is no different from the real life men who, only by virtue of their gender, expect to be treated as rightful masters of the universe (my foot!) and can’t even keep their mouth shut and hold the hot air in.

Believe you me, I have not yet got to the ‘icing on the cake’. Apart from hearing about a million times during the course of a half hour show what a great man he himself is, the viewers also have to watch him belittle his wife at every step. He calls her ‘vaykkol’ which in Malayalam means straw/hay and is a play on the word vakkeel which means lawyer. He interferes in her work, orders her on which case she can accept and which she shouldn’t be handling, gives orders on who she can invite home, forbids her from buying a new scooter (even saris!) from HER earnings, tells her she cannot go visiting her people, or call them over but invites his own people for long stays and expects her to take leave and look after the guests. He only has to open his mouth and sexist remarks tumble out one after the other. In short he behaves like a Grade One Jerk. 

Of course, the lawyer woman does not take everything lying down. You see her giving him back in words, but of actions/results, there are none. Most of the time it is as if the script/story writer (who probably is laughing all the way to the bank, “Hehehehe, you can feed the donkey that is the public, anything!’) has thought, ‘Oh yeah, this sounds good coming out of her mouth. Shows she has guts’. That’s it. It goes nowhere from there.

To be fair, both the husband and wife have their bad days when they have to eat humble-pie, BUT (yeah, the but butting in again), it is ALWAYS the wife who is the simpering fool, sucking up to the husband, coaxing and cajoling him, talking to him like NO MOTHER WOULD EVER THINK OF DOING TO ANY CHILD OF HERS UNLESS THE CHILD IS TWO YEARS OLD or less. 

It does not really come as a surprise to me. There ARE men of the sort around me, FOR REAL. They like to be babied by the wife, enjoy being TREATED LIKE TWO-YEAR-OLDS (My apologies to two-year olds, I don’t mean to disrespect you!), no less. The way the lawyer woman talks to him when he is the one eating humble pie (if she is the one, he crows putting roosters to shame) it is all I can do to not take my plate with the rice, dal, veggies and the yummy fried fish (little do you know how much I love my fish) and hurl it at the television screen. 

Sigh. Since I cannot do that, it’s a gift from the Second Born, I do the next best thing. Throughout, I keep a running commentary going. Oh yeah, like it’s gonna happen. Shit! You woman you, stop simpering and tell him where he gets off. Stop! STOP! Don’t give in. Aaaargh. Why the hell can’t he get up and iron his own clothes? If he’d sit at one place she’d get her work done faster. Woman, let him go hungry today. Don’t let him talk to you like that. Have you no shame?. How can you live with him, woman? You are a lawyer for chrissakes, don’t listen to his drivel. It is not just his house, it’s yours too. Gawd, I’d like to kick the writer. No, I should kick the people who watch this bullsh*t. Sigh, and unfortunately, I come to the realization, that includes me.

Sigh. SIGH. SIGH. I really hate that selfish pompous ass and would like to kick him, or better still jump on him with hobnailed boots and watch him deflate. So imagine my surprise when yesterday I suddenly blurted out, “Hey, I am like him!” Wait, wait, WAIT!!! Not so quick. I didn’t mean I was ALL like him, just that we have one single measly aspect in common.

There he was, the VO, walking to his office like he does every single day, a fact which everyone in the village knows too, when along comes a guy from the opposite direction who wishes him and goes on to ask, “On your way to the Village Office?” The VO is livid. He thunders, “Look here! You have seen me every morning going to my office at this same hour and still you ask me this totally unnecessary question! Where the hell else could I be going?!!”

“That’s me!” I exclaimed to the L&M. “I am just like him.. in this matter!” I did not forget to stress the last. The L&M was amused as he is by most things I say. But yeah, it is the truth. I bristle all over when people state the obvious or ask questions answers to which are obvious. Unlike the VO who is a male and is allowed to announce his displeasure in loud tones to all and sundry, I hide my irritation pretty well. In the times I grew up in those of my gender were taught to give a more subdued response, if at all. But don’t let that lull anyone into a false security. Perhaps the next time I shall take a cue from one of my most detested characters on television, the VO himself, with whom unfortunately I share the intense dislike for what in Malayalam is called kochu varthamanam aka small talk, and decide to explode.

Psst. The name of the show is Karyam Nissaram. Karyam (matters) Nissaram (simple).

©Shail Mohan 2016