Family Politics

Rupa Gulab

I have often wondered how couples who support ideologically different parties manage to live together. Fortunately, my husband and I share the same unshakeable faith in secularism. But if someday he suffers from a chemical imbalance and informs me that he’s discovered a fondness for some divisive Hindutva party, I will take him gently by the hand and lead him to the world’s best psychiatrist. Even if I have to sell my wedding ring and mortgage the only apartment I own to pay the exorbitant fees.

This happened to a friend, recently. Her Harvard-educated, western culture-worshipping husband was brainwashed by the PR whitewash on current CM and wannabe PM NarendraModi. She called me and wailed piteously. “He’s absolutely refused to see a psychiatrist! I’m now thinking of adding salt to his tea daily just to let him know how angry I am that he’s rooting for a nasty person.”

I urged her not to be spiteful. “Hello, he’s your husband, you should support him,” I told her sternly.

“Even when he acts like a complete idiot? No way,” she spat out.

Particularly when he acts like an idiot. Love transcends politics, see?” I pointed out gently. And then I listed the ways she could stand by him in his darkest hour.

 

Me: Give his favourite designer label shorts away to charity and lovingly buy him a dozen of those flared khaki shorts favoured by the RSS. You must squeal with delight when he tries on a pair, click a pic and upload it on Facebook with the message: ‘Ooh, doesn’t he look like Hitler?’

She: No, I won’t! You know how much his favourite designer shorts cost?

Me: I don’t care! And as for you, you will start wearing extra large vermilion bindis as well – ask for the special SushmaSwaraj size. Goddit?

She: What, you want me to look like a creature in a saas-bahu serial?

Me: (Brusquely) I’m not done yet. Now, cancel the DJ you hired for your husband’s fancy office party next week – replace him with a live satsang band instead. Also, replace those heavy metal CDs he keeps in the car with bhajans.

She: (Firmly) I’m hanging up. Right now.

Me: Shut up and listen. The next step is, put little bottles of cow urine in his office lunch bag, goddit?

She: (Gasps) This man only drinks Perrier sparkling water! Have you lost your marbles?

Me: No, but your husband has. And I’m trying to help, okay? Now, cancel the trip you guys planned to Europe and book a temple tour in India instead.

She: No way! Have you forgotten what happened
in Uttarakhand?

Me: Oh, for God’s sake, what do you care about more? A holiday in Europe or your husband’s sanity? Choose!

She: Look, I don’t know what you’re getting at!

Me: You’ll figure it out soon enough. Right. You’ve got to sack your cook asap.

She: What? Sack my precious Maria? You’ve got to be joking! He’ll kill me! He loves her vindaloo and xacuti.

Me: Arrey, don’t really sack her – but tell him that you’re thinking of doing it because Maria’s a puppy.

She: (Shrieks) I would never call Maria something as nasty as that! How dare you?

Me: Yes, but his hero has said this and worse things too, about minorities. Now are you getting it?

She: Oh, my God, yes! Make him OD on a Hindutva trip so he gets to personally experience how this RSS-nominated twerp will tear the secular fabric of our nation. Right, I’m inspired now! And you know what else I’m going to do? I’m going to start a fight with him over some silly pretext and tell him if he doesn’t listen to me I’ll shave my head, wear a white sari and eat peanuts.  

Me: (Startled) Why on earth would you do a silly thing
like that?

She: SushmaSwaraj says stuff like that, darling. And I’ll add that wacko ‘zindalaash’ line of hers too.

Me: (Giggling)

She: And how about this? I will threaten to take the kids out of their posh English-medium school and put them in a Hindi-medium school instead.

Me: Way to go! You can also hire a Sanskrit teacher for your husband on weekends. Cancel his evil, western golf and squash sessions.

She: Fabulous! Erm, where can I buy cow pee from?

Me: Good Lord, how should I know? Don’t ask me, ask Google!

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: OCTOBER 2013