Don’t get me wrong. I am not about to meltdown reminiscing about my wife. I am not divorced nor widowed either. The woman I have lived with for 34 years is still with me. She still anticipates vacuously, with her intent look, and smiles easily. And she is still bossy while taking care of the household and while she strings up the people who are a part of it.
Who she isn’t, and what she no longer is, is being my wife. Nothing in her behaviour says, “I am yours.” Even the notion I might have — that, she is mine — exists no more. She has sons who are hers, wherever they might be in the city or abroad. The kitchen is hers, the spoken daughters in neighbouring households are hers, their children too. To them all, she is theirs. But me ? Dear, dear… I am just the tea she has with morn and eve, and the meal trays she puts on the teetable beside my easy chair or the fruit tray she lays on the table top. That’s who or what we placidly “own” of each other.
The real excitement starts with the conversations we have, though the looks we glare are pregnant with intensely pleasurable interest, being full of clues we give to other to enter ourselves, as younger people would during foreplay. Expectedly. what we shower after, with our sight, depends on rub we’ve given to each other during the exchange, with our words or the enveloping thoughts behind them.
Best results are guaranteed when we avoid injecting our own want of the moment in the conversation. It would only give the other an opportunity to deny, with or without a chide, if it is not assessed to be an understandably common and reasonable need. Mention of a juvenile want would elicit a welcome laughter but no more. Anything more personal would be scoffed at. A physical prelude would be more firmly boxed in.
Whither wife, I wonder, when I must introduce the household Chief as “my wife.” Mine, in our mutual context, is a practical lie. What everyone agrees, and I readily nod, is that she is a fine woman. One of the finest, a few visibly gush. Yeah, yeah, I concede being happily tickled to hear that. And my heart soars on a smile across my face when I actually see the diva flitting about from one appointed session of her group of “great gamblers” to being the star in another congregation of women singing and dancing, joking and laughing, to their fill. Frequently, the day would find her strut up to one adjacent door or more with a tray of tasty, flavourful creations from her aromatic kitchen.
Life is full while she is neither mine nor a wife to me. It is simple, unentangled, and reaching out, with her transparent zeal to include the good but shy, the alive but reticent, into her friendly cover and ready occasional embrace. She is the life that carries me through waking up, my ruminations and sleep. It is the oneness between the distance we seriously feign to unfailingly avoid the mud of me and mine in our relationship, and of this hard bound sexist role one must fill, in a defined mould cast by the other.
Thank you, my dear.
Did I say “my” ? Oh dear, dear…