Blessed are the men who hold their own by doing the bidding of their wives. That’s how Lord Shiva held his head high against an irate Goddess Parvati by appearing with a begging bowl before her kitchen in Kashi for food. Again, had Tulsidas forced himself on an unwilling Ratnavali, his wife, there would have been no Ram Charitra Manas. She chided him saying,

"अस्थि चर्म मय देह यह, ता सों ऐसी प्रीति!

नेकु जो होती राम से, तो काहे भव-भीत?"


Meaning - If you had half as much devotion for God that you show for my body your life would have been fruitful.

Stung by these words Tulsidas dedicated his entire life to scholarship and Ram Bhakti.

That’s the way men hold their heads high, not by display of belligerence or male chauvinism but by bearing pecks of the hen. The natural order of things is the henpecked husband. And with age the hen pecks more and deeper.

I once kept a count of the tongue lashings I bore daily - don’t pick your nose, don’t waggle your legs while sitting, don’t sneeze when I am talking (this one I find particularly harsh), don’t litter the house (in younger days when we had our litter about us littering the house, she never growled, only smiled and set things right herself), if nothing, why are you keeping quiet speak to me ... the litany of her pecks is as diverse as it is long. Anyway, the count came to twenty a day. The day I accosted her with this data the count increased by one, 21 for the day.

Sometimes the repressed male within cries for release from being ordered about, asks for reprieve at least for a few days. But overcoming an ingrained habit isn’t easy. It needs pluck and ingenuity, both I have in only small measure. But fortuity opened a small window last week.

She complained of toothache. I promptly took her to the dentist. He advised two molars needed immediate extraction and root canalling to save the rest. Both could be done together. It would take minimum two days for tooth extraction wound to heal and one week for root canalling. In the healing period the jaws were not to be moved except for intake of liquids in little sips. The wily male spirit within me sensed a kill. It suggested, extraction now, root canalling later. My wife agreed.

The molars were removed yesterday. Since then the house has been quiet, very quiet. We do communicate but only in sign language. I know I am poor at dumb charade, so it’s not I but she who gets exasperated at failure to communicate. To ease things and mindful of the future I carried a scribbling pad and a pen with me. In the event of sign language failure, she wrote down her commands. Still it was soundless.

The maids too were happier, for them a break from her bossing around. Meanwhile, I enjoyed the two days of quietude to the fullest. And a week more of halcyon days a month later when she went for root canalling.

A ‘toothless’ wife is a ‘manly’ delight!