चंद लमहों में बदल जायेगा
तारीख़ों का क़ैदी
कलेंडर का ग़ुलाम
यह जाता साल
यह नया साल
क्या अलविदा कहें इसे
क्यों जश्न मनाये इसका
यह जाता साल
यह नया साल
काश ! आज डूबते सुरज
और कल उगते सुरज
के दरमियाँ बीतते लमहों में
महज़ कलेंडर न बदलता
यह वक़्त बदल जाता
बदलते साल की यही कामना है मेरी
जो ख़ुश हैं उनका वक़्त थम जाये
जो दुखी हैं उनका वक़्त बदल जाये
With five monitors beeping ominous orchestra in the CCU and you hooked to one of them. With my eyes alternately gazing anxiously at the monitor, showing your erratic heartbeat and ECG , your face hidden mostly with oxygen mask and colored wires and electrodes running across your chest and limbs. With prayers for your life breathing on my lips I have this tremendous guilt and overwhelming regret- I DID’NT NAG YOU ENOUGH. Wish I had!
You see, before we were married, with the naivety only unmarried people can afford I too was an expert at understanding the marital problems. I had seen many loving and committed marriages getting poisoned with resentment. The obvious culprit more often not was ‘nagging’ usually by wife! Subconsciously I vowed that come what may, I would never be a ‘nagging wife’
‘Nagging wife’ is one of the commonest negative tag given to married women. It may be the most common stereotype of wife. Jokes about ‘nagging wife’ are the staple diet of humour, be it in movies or social media like whatsapp. It is possibly the worst thing a woman can do in her marriage or so it seems. Marriage counselors warn you against it, self-help books advise women on ‘how not to nag your husbands’. Media, day in and day out makes fun of nagging wives when not portraying them outright as villains in the family. Religious texts solemnly preach against it. So I more or less nagged myself not to be a ‘nagging wife’
Recently I searched for definition of nagging and this is what I found. The adjective ‘nagging’ means constantly harassing someone to do something and the example is ‘a nagging wife’. The verb nag means to harass someone to do something that they are averse to. It is also defined as ‘to persistently find fault or complain in wearisome or relentless manner’. Analyzing these definitions I gained several insights.
You see dear husband, nagging is simply continued persistence with a request which can be very valid. Why continued persistence? Because of men’s consistent refusal to comply with the request! Men can often be evasive, silent or simply ignore the request forcing women to repeat their requests. And to justify their refusal to comply, males label their women’s valid request as ‘nagging’. By labeling woman’s requests negatively as nagging men devalue women’s speech which then becomes easier to disregard. It is a sexist word used by men to silence women who have individual and real thoughts, concerns and questions or who try to assert themselves in the relationship. When men don’t want to deal with problems they shift the blame to their women by labeling her as a ‘nag’. Nagging is a word invented and used by men when a woman says something he does not want to hear or like. It saves him from actually doing anything in response to her requests or ‘nag’ till he himself wants to do something about it. It serves as means of ‘saving his face’ or keeping the ‘power’ and ‘control’ in the relationship with him. On the other hand the threat of being labelled a ‘nag’ affects woman’s self-esteem and prevents a woman from asking for a valid request. Ironically more often than not the common factor that triggers ‘nagging’ is unhealthy habits of a spouse.
Complying with the power differential between status of man and woman in our society, this tag of ‘nagging’ is never applied to men! Men simply ‘request reasonably’ when stating their desire doesn’t work immediately! Or they order their ‘request’. In case their demands are still not met, they may whine, sulk, give ‘silent treatment’, resort to sarcasm, violence and abuse or simply walk away from the relationship! But they are never guilty of ‘nagging’
So, dear husband! sometime after marriage I gently and obliquely pointed out to watch your diet keeping in view your increasing girth compounded by your existing prolapsed disc. You laughed off my ‘suggestion’. I persisted for some time; you ignored my ‘persistence’. I stopped short lest you label me ‘nagging wife’. I saw your eyes getting weary whenever advised about diet control. I didn’t ‘nag’ you enough about eating less and eating right!
For years I ‘suggested’ that you follow a consistent exercise routine. You always had a valid reason not to follow it. I persisted for some time, you ignored my persistence. I stopped short again when your voice conveyed that my advice irritates you. You did join the Gym years later when you finally felt like doing it on your own and did go there occasionally. I heard you exaggerate about your work-outs or the count of days you actually did go to the Gym but I kept quiet!
A year and a half back I noticed sudden weight loss in you. You looked thinner and haggard. I could see you literally shrinking! With your known family history, the sudden weight loss warned the doctor in me to get you checked for diabetes. But when I ‘suggested’ it to you, you blankly refused. I ‘persisted’ and you sarcastically replied,” Everyone is complimenting me for losing weight and looking handsome and you are scaring me of diabetes. Say something ‘shubh’ (auspicious)!” I tried to reason with you, pointed out the difference between normal weight loss and diabetic weight loss, talked about the symptoms which you denied. Almost daily I asked you to get your blood sugar tested, daily you procrastinated it. Twice I called the technician at home to draw your blood sample, still you stubbornly refused and sent him back. I requested your friends, family members, even your ex-Commanding Officer to make you get your blood sugar tested. For months I persisted and you almost labelled me a ‘nag’. But you see I didn’t nag you enough!
After eight months of ignoring my ‘persistence’ you relented and gave your blood sample. The report I got from my pathologist friend shocked me despite validating my fears. Your blood sugar was more than 360 mg/dl, way too high and it proved that you had uncontrolled diabetes at least since last eight months. I shuddered at the thought of damage; such high levels of blood sugar could have done to your body. I felt guilt and regret for not being able to get you checked earlier. I regretted not ‘nagging’ you enough!
Anyways now I suggested lifestyle changes to control your diabetes along with the medicines. You said you understood and would comply. For a year I watched you with dismay as you continued with your hectic lifestyle, late nights, untimely meals and medicines and erratic exercise regimen. Above it all was your unwillingness to quit smoking despite me getting you nicotine tablets and patches. “I have cut down on smoking” you insisted when I ‘nagged’ about it. My regret I didn’t nag you enough!
Like every year you went to your parent’s house in suburbs of Kolkata to celebrate ‘Chatt Puja’- a huge and strenuous family affair! With more than fifty members of your family gathered for the occasion, with chaos ruling the household, with three days of strict fasting, odd timings followed by binge of over-eating unhealthiest of food. Questioning the relevance of rituals observed in your family is taboo and asking to not to go for Chatt Puja is outright sacrilege. My intuition warned me and I asked you once not to go this year especially with our ten-year old son’s shooting pre-nationals in Mumbai. You asked me to take our son to Mumbai and you joining us later. I didn’t even persist with my request knowing it was useless. Wish I had!
The day Puja ended, true to traditions all of you indulged in food orgy-oiliest, spiciest gourmet delights. Your eldest brother-in-law aged 60+, hugely overweight and incorrigible foodie (a person I was warning since last three years not to join the family for Chatt puja keeping in view the severity of his asthmatic condition) was found dead in the middle of night (apparently choked with vomit of his over-eating that day) and you my dear husband ruptured your coronary artery while lifting his body from the floor and suffered massive heart attack. Disoriented with grief with two tragedies in the family at once and the pathetic medical services available in the locality it took people seven hours to take you to Command Hospital Kolkata in whose CCU I saw you fighting for your life! I felt guilty of not asserting myself enough even when my intuition was warning me. I regretted not ‘nagging’ you about it earlier.
As I see your angiograph with the cardiologist pointing out your ruptured coronary artery and another coronary artery hundred percent blocked and partial blocks in many other smaller arteries, I witness the havoc caused by your abusive lifestyle and neglect of health. Your forty six year old heart showed degenerative changes expected in more than seventy year old.
As you survived heart failure four days after surviving major heart attack I see a slow road to recovery ahead. Your future health now depends entirely on your diet, medicines and life-style changes. You have been advised enough by different cardiologists and well-wishers. After indulging in denial for some time you now seem to comply with doctor’s advice at least for the time being. You do keep talking about going to your office ‘tomorrow’ or attending important business meeting ‘today’ or a wedding reception ‘day after tomorrow’ or ordering chicken from KFC ‘right now’. I know you are joking or just teasing me now but I keep my fingers crossed! As I spend sleepless nights keeping vigil on you, my ears attuned to slightest aberration in your breath sounds while you sleep, I take a silent vow to prevent you from harming yourself ever again. If you abuse your health now I will ‘nag you’ till you comply. Go ahead and tag me as ‘nagging wife’. I want you to hold our grandchildren in your arms. I want to be your wife till ripe old age. If being called ‘nagging wife’ is the only way so be it! I am no longer afraid of this unfair label!
Yours nagging aka caring wife