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I walked into my home with a dreadful premonition. This has been my reaction for the last four months. I paraded through the house opening every door as I went. The bedroom was quiet. I had received a text around noon from my wife. “Going to my friend’s home for a short stay. Will be back in a couple of days. No food at home. Do whatever!” the message read. The darlings and sweethearts vanished in a relatively quicker time. I sighed.

I walked into my mother’s room. Strangely even that was quiet. Instead of a WhatsApp text, my mother had done what she could do; she had left behind a neatly folded letter on her coffee table held in place by her favourite crystal swan showpiece. “Son! Leaving to my sister’s house. Need some peace. I’ll come back in two days. Ask your wife to cook some food at least these two days” My mother’s clear words stared back at me with me a strict, rigid glance. I sighed with resignation.

Six months into marriage and this was the last thing on my mind. I fell on my bed drained out; physically and emotionally. I closed my eyes, trying to stop the tears that clouded my eyes. Men of this country are never supposed to cry… Chuck it! I wanted to cry anyway. Maybe it could push some of the burdens out and clear my chest to help me breathe easy. As tears started rolling down, I walked down the memory lane to the moment I first laid eyes on my wife.

Avanika.

I know I fell for the name. It was an arranged marriage and she was the only girl who attracted my eyes and belonged to one of the five families my mother approved. Her father was a retired judge and her mother was a third-page celebrity. She grew up with all the lushness, polish and, poise expected for her stature. My mom was happy with the dowry they had quoted. The tag of Masters degree and a double-digit Lakh per annum salary was matched with the brand new Accent car and 60 sovereign of gold jewellery. It was a match made in heaven obviously.

The initial days were amazing. Avanika took to my mother like her own and they both spent their evenings chattering away. The bonding and sexing that happened during the nights was scintillating. We had a three-week honeymoon in Langkawi. It was magic. I came back home with a terrific tan and a wide grin.

Things started changing after that.

The morning after we had returned from our honeymoon, I found two coffee cups on my bedside table. I was confused. Maybe Avani left hers on the desk and went to bath. I picked up my usual cup and left behind the cup that my wife had gotten me during our trip. I took a sip of my coffee and the bathroom door burst open. Avani stood livid, gritting her teeth. “What happened Avani?” I asked with a shock.

“Why did you pick that cup?” she asked with an accusing finger at my coffee cup.

“This is my cup” I answered back with confusion.

“I made coffee for you and brought it in our new cup” she shouted at me with tears rolling down her cheek. I kept my cup aside, jumped out of my bed and hugged her. “Am sorry darling!” I kissed her neck. “I didn’t know that. I’ll drink from our new cup.” I took the new cup and took a sip. She smiled. I walked over to my mother’s room to wish her good morning.

“What was that shouting all about?” My mother enquired.

“Oh, Nothing! I shook my head with nonchalance. “She also brought some coffee for me. I didn’t realize it and drank from my usual cup” I smiled to communicate the pettiness of my wife to my mother. She did not return it back.

“So, which coffee did you drink?” My mother asked.

“The one she made obviously!” I mused.

“Ah!” my mother said. “Ok! Go ahead and get ready for work” she dismissed me with a little bitterness in her tone that I failed to recognize.

I kissed my wife goodbye near the doorway; I heard my mother’s distinct cough as she entered the hall. I stepped back guiltily from my wife, winked at her and left to work. I never realized these were the initial symptoms to indicate the storm that was about to follow; and follow it did.

Things started taking a nose dive. The lovey-dovey marriage days were gone. I never knew that such a personality existed in my mother. My mother started jibing at me with words for the mistakes I never knew I did. She cried saying that she was losing me. My wife started pushing me away from her and suddenly out of nowhere pillows had materialized to define our borders in bed. I tried to console my mother. I was her only child and I understood things were getting harder for her. I had been her only company for almost fifteen years. This move pushed my wife to a different height and she changed tactics. That night, the pillows had disappeared and my wife was sprawled on the space wearing a red satin negligee. I lost the game. She exhausted me that night and did that with a vengeance.

I was completely submerged and lost among the two gigantic waves of emotional tsunamis that hit me from two opposite directions. I felt like a battered, barely alive Catamaran searching for a shore. It was suffocating and I found it hard to breathe. I turned to my friends for advice and the only thing they could suggest was a Beer. I realized that I was not the only man who went through this. I took their advice and sipped my first ever beer. I went straight to bed. For the first time in many weeks, I slept like a piece of log.

The sleep I had yesterday night had transformed itself into a nightmare today morning. “I want us to go alone and live as a separate family!” were the first words my wife said as soon as I woke up. My head whizzed. “What? NO!” my mother shouted even before I could answer.

“How dare you think you could take my son away from me!” she fumed.

“Aren’t you decent enough to move away from your son now that he is married?” Avani bit back rude.

“I’ve brought up my son alone for 15 years, do you think things would change just because you are living with us?” my mom was equally rude.

“So, am supposed to leave the house where I ruled like a princess for 25 years only to become a servant for you two?” my wife shouted.

“SHUT UP! BOTH OF YOU!”  I went ballistic.

“For once can you both realize that you’re dealing with another human being here and not a crappy piece of jewellery?” I bellowed.

“You are my mother!” I said, pointing at my mother “and you are my wife!” I said looking at Avani.

“I made a promise to love, care and cherish both of you!” I shouted.”

One to my dead father and the other to your father.” I yelled, facing my wife. “You both better learn to live with that!” I yelled and stormed away.

I had yelled and walked away, thinking that it was going to solve the problem. But I realized it was wrong the minute I entered my house. Each had taken the same tactic to bend my will. This silence at my home was the ultimatum the women of my life had given me. It all narrowed down to whom I call first. I made a decision; I took a deep breath; I browsed my contacts list and dialed a number.

Forty-five minutes later:

I heard my doorbell ring. I ran to the door with excitement. “There you are!” I smiled at the person standing in my doorway. “Thank god you came so early “I smiled with relief.

“Here’s your BBQ chicken and two bottles of beer machan!” my friend Vinod smiled as he handed me the parcels.

“Bachelor’s party again, eh?” he winked as his phone rang.

“Ok! House authority has called” he murmured.

“Damn! wish I could join you man!” he sighed as he started his bike. I waved with a smile.

I closed the door, switched on the TV, fell on the couch and made myself comfortable. “Yes! There are problems” I said to myself.

I smirked as I opened my beer bottle.

Maybe, that’s why they say, “Men will be Men!”