Honey, this is the last time I am going to have a second cup of coffee in the morning, declared my husband, folding the day’s newspaper he was so immersed in till then and reaching out for the hot beverage I held in my outstretched hand.
From the seriousness of his tone and the frown on his face I thought the poor dear, who was so fond of coffee, had ‘ultimately’ decided to give up his habit of gulping the hot liquid at least half a dozen times a day. The increase in the price of sugar came more as a relief to me for once.
You mean to say you will do with just one cup of coffee in the evening also? I asked.
Yes, that’s what I have decided, he stated, and picked up the newspaper again, probably to give the Union Budget another reading.
Aye, listen, he called out no sooner than I resumed preparing breakfast.
Do you know the price of gas too has gone up? Have you thought of reducing its consumption in any way? he demanded.
Why don’t you suggest something yourself? I prompted.
He seemed to think for a moment. Supposing you do the cooking just once for the entire day? he suggested, looking immenseIy pleased at his own idea.
And eat the same food twice if not thrice, I completed for him.
Don’t be silly, why do we have to do that? Can’t you think of making a variety of dishes for lunch and dinner to avoid repetition? he asked, sounding very intelligent.
But that would mean I would be using the same amount of fuel, whether the cooking is done once or twice, wouldn’t it? I said trying to suppress my laughter at his idea. He too seemed to have realised this and quickly came up with another bright suggestion.
Supposing, we eat less of cooked food and more of salads. It’s good for health also, don’t you agree? he asked.
Now you are talking sense, I said, feeling happy that hubby was capable of suggesting alternatives, that would not only conserve fuel but my energy as well.
‘Aren’t you doing anything to conserve petrol? I queried, thinking hubby would come up with some idea on this but his only answer was a long sigh.
Why don’t you all pool your cars when you go to office? I suggested.
No chance. My colleagues are already thinking of disposing off their cars, replied hubby. Shall we also follow suit and depend upon State Transport? he asked.
I did not bother to reply and went back to the kitchen to complete my cooking for the day, leaving the man to work out economy measures all by himself.
Forget the Budget for the moment, and let’s all have lunch in peace, I warned as I was laying the table.
‘Mummy, where are my favourite ‘aluparathas’ you promised to make today? grumbled my son Sudhir, scrutinising the dishes on the table. ‘And why haven’t you made ‘chole?
Why don’t you try a different kind of menu which your father and I chose for this Sunday? I said, helping him with large servings of sprouted gram and vegetable salad to accompany the cereal.
Oh, Mummy, are you both crazy? I am not going to eat this stuff, muttered Sudhir and stormed out.
If the boy cannot eat the ‘stuff’ even for a day, how am I to adopt the new menu for the rest of the week, I wondered, watching hubby’s face as he ate every morsel, chewing hard the sprouted gram and the raw vegetables. What’s worse, he took double the time he normally took over lunch.
Days went by and I stuck to the mixed menu of cooked and raw food which hubby was trying to get used to, more because the ‘suggestion’ had come from him and his prestige and honour were at stake. My son continued to protest. As for me, I was happy spending less time on making coffee and cooking food.
When I thought things were settling down, hubby declared one morning, ‘ from today it’s going to be status quo ante. After all, what is life if we don’t enjoy the small luxuries? I have an alternative to suggest. Why don’t you accept the offer made by the AD Agency which promised you an attractive package dear? he pleaded.
The ‘suggestion’ silenced even me!
N Meera Raghavendra Rao