One of my earliest memories of dissent with the SRE goes back some three decades or so. The man was sulking and did not talk to me properly for three or four days. I was extremely miserable, and tried my level best to find out what was bothering him. With great difficulty, he finally disclosed all- one of his shirts had a cuff button missing. I could have cheerfully clobbered him for being so utterly stupid about something so trivial. Firstly, I did and do believe that all grown up human beings should have the skill to sew on their buttons. Secondly, if he did not possess the necessary skills to do so, why could he not speak up and ask for the damn button to be replaced? Mind reading is not a necessary by-product of love. Many shirts and buttons and squabbles later, though, much has changed in the SRE-Dipali household.
Digression- the SRE would always sleep in a kurta-pyjama, preferably white, and preferably ironed. As long as we lived in Lucknow, this was never a problem, since we had a press-wallah dhobi living in our garage, who did all our ironing in lieu of rent. As our children grew up and away, and more aware of the world around them, Fabindia kurtas were discovered and adopted.
In 2005 we were going to Goa on a vacation with some of the SRE's college batch mates, and our younger daughter came to stay with my parents while we were away. On a shopping trip to Chennai, she insisted that the SRE buy some shorts and t-shirts for his holiday. Till then, the SRE never wore short sleeves or t-shirts. So that vacation marked the beginning of an era, as well as the end of one.
It so happens that middle age often brings about a phenomenon known politely as middle aged spread, and less politely as a paunch. This anatomical feature makes the force of gravity on pyjamas stronger than before, which leads to grubby pyjama hems which also tend to unravel. Over the past few months, several pyjamas revealed unravelling hems. Some new ones had been bought, but needed to be altered to the correct length. Given that I was extremely preoccupied with my parents over the past several months, the pile of mending kept growing and was just not tackled. The SRE was mostly sleeping in shorts. One night, recently, he said very gently, that he would like to sleep in pyjamas sometimes. I realised, to my utter chagrin, that all his pyjamas had landed up in the mending pile. He even suggested that I outsource the repairs.
The very next day I set up my sewing machine and mended for an entire morning. Not only pyjamas, many of my salwars needed their waistbands stitched up. Since all these clothes had been sitting around in various piles for months, I washed them all and ironed some pyjamas. The SRE now has a respectable pile of pyjamas in his wardrobe, and will wear shorts to bed when he feels like it, and not because he has to.
I think about the SRE's long journey from sulky silence to patient forbearance, and thank the good Lord for giving me this wonderful partner on the journey of my life.