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When I started blogging in 2006, I made quite a few friends from among my fellow bloggers. Many of them used to exchange a few words with me on and off. One day one of them declared he would soon be home on leave – he was working in some Gulf country at the time – and intended to ‘borrow’ the L&M for a day or two while he was here. I wouldn’t mind, would I, he wanted to know. Apparently, nature lover that he was, every time he was down on leave he spent a few days trekking the Western Ghats, spending time in close communion with nature. This time around he wanted the L&M to be his companion.

Sitting as he was in front of his computer in some office miles away, with an ocean separating us, he couldn’t see me just then. But if by some magic he could have, he would have seen a woman laughing hysterically. L&M going on a trek of his own free will? There was nothing funnier I could think of than that. I told him that the L&M was not into trekking. In fact he had a better chance of me agreeing to accompanying him (because I love that sort of thing though I was not fit enough by any means to do it) than the L&M ever agreeing to it. Typically so, he who did not know the L&M at all except through my blogs in some of which I have mentioned him, didn’t believe me. A man, and an ex-army one at that, how could the L&M not like the outdoors, eh?

Therein lies the contradiction. The L&M would rather run errands (bank, post office, meeting people to get things done…), do his paper-work, watch television, do repair work around the house, but trekking? No way, not of his free will. But people find that hard to believe. When some years back I was asked what I’d do if I got a windfall, I replied I’d buy a backpack, a good pair of shoes and go out see the world. My cousin superciliously dismissed what I said with a ‘You and back-pack traveling? Ha!’ To this day I wonder what made him say that. Was it his contention that I would not be able to do it or that I cannot have wishes of the sort? Anyways…

People have their opinions of the L&M and me, but we are not who they think we are. Our abilities, wishes and interests are not based on anyone’s preconceived notions of our gender. If my health permitted, I’d happily go where my feet took me, to marvel at trees, each leaf and flower, the birds and butterflies, clouds and mountains, the oceans and more. But to someone like the L&M, who can easily walk/climb/swim they are of no particular interest. That in short is us, different people, with opposite likes and dislikes.

He likes greys and dark blues and blacks, not just for himself, but on me and the children too. In fact it took me some years into our marriage to shake free of his influence and start wearing the brighter colors I love, and also dress the children in them. I don’t care what people think, the L&M does. He is not much of a rebel, while I positively revel in being one. Bring it on, is my motto. I readily accept new things and new ideas, but he takes a while to adapt and will resist before he gives in. I love dogs, it took time for him to come around to love them. I hate the last minute work involved in moving houses, my mind already on the new one awaiting me, but he gets down to the nitty-gritty of it with determination and completes it.

I am passionate about things and any injustice happening anywhere in the world agitates me, nothing of the sort affects him which is probably why he can watch the daily news on television. He is a believer, I am an atheist. I do not make promises to help people unless I am sure I will be able to keep it, he makes the promise first and then works hard, inconveniencing himself most times to fulfill it. I have my lazy moments, but he is a hard worker through and through. He is very austere when it comes to spending on himself and has to be pestered into buying something nice, I do not deny myself if I love something and have the ability to buy it.

There’s more on those lines, but you get the drift. The important thing is, we love some of the same things: Our home, our children, Luci, some (only some!) television shows, cats, biriyani and dosa, laughing at silly jokes, being nice to people. To top it all, we are both very patient, though in entirely different matters, and in different ways. And here we are, ready to step gingerly into our fortieth year together, for today marks the completion of the thirty-ninth.

© Shail Mohan 2021