Gender games

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It’s an unequal contest when one opponent has the stronger serve, and rightly so! Writes SANAM SHARMA

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After a hectic day at work, running after our little boy and his dad as well occasionally, and getting things organised in the kitchen in the evening, my wife usually tries to sneak in a few quiet moments. Moments of peace, on her own. Fiddling with her phone, watching something on TV of her own choice, reading a book or sitting silently by herself and catching her breath. She calls it her ‘me time’ for the day. Her space to regain her ‘sanity’ as she sometimes puts it to me, when I try and be a ‘typical man’ trying to intrude in those moments.

I often protest that I ‘deserve’ some ‘me time’ too. Caution: be mindful of the liberal use of the word ‘deserve’ with your wife – it can lead to a very complicated argument of its own, if mishandled. A discussion that you cannot win, ever!

So yes, I often stake my claim to ‘me time’ as well. After all, I had worked hard all day. In my office, that is. “I have worked hard too. Same hours, same effort!” she says, as she serves a strong forehand volley right past my backhand. Score: 15-All.

I scamper for a quick response in indignant defence. “I came home before you and had tea ready for us”, I say, valiantly stating my case. Here’s the response I am rightfully served. “I picked up our boy from school. Did the groceries on my way home (with the kid hanging off one knee), filled up the car tank”, she retorts. Now that is a 250kmph ace right through the centre of the court. I do not even attempt to return serve. Score: 15-30.

“I took out the garbage bins”, I respond yet again, a bit sheepishly this time. I know I should have conceded the game at the previous volley itself, but here I am dishing out another low speed second serve straight to her strong forehand. “So you took out the garbage bins and then checked your Facebook updates! Flicked through the TV channels while seated on the sofa! Cursed and uttered opinions about the political chaos in India!” was her account of my evening. And an accurate one too! A voice in my head urged me to shut up and keep a check on my stupid utterances. She was making sense and I was fast running out of responses, hang on, ‘excuses’. Score: 15-40. Game Point.

By this stage I am well aware of my deficiencies. I am no match to the skill, commitment and workload of my opponent. And rightfully so! So I plan to retreat. Withdraw myself from the bout that I shouldn’t have initiated in the first place. But the game point was yet to be scored.

As I tried to rush out of the door having conceded my shortcomings, I heard a final power-packed volley launched at me. I deserved it! “While you were busy pondering over world matters on the TV and if you failed to notice, I did the dishes, made sure the kid was fed, made the beds for the night, organised myself for the next day, sorted out the laundry, and put up with the tantrums of the boy”, were her parting words. I did not have a response as I hurried towards the door, making for a quick exit. I would not have attempted to respond even if I had half a response to that. She had been the better player and deserved her ‘me time’.

Game. Set. Match…