Wifey loves owls.
I said nothing different to her last week when I saw her ogling at an owl in Dilli Haat.
“You love owls,” I remarked.
She turned and considered me for a moment. She had that contemplative look on her face – she’s never told this to me clearly, but I assume her contemplation is anchored around the moot question, why did I marry this goofball?
“What?” I asked, hoping that I was wrong, but her answer confirmed that I had hit the bull’s eye.
“Why else did I marry you?” she answered with what appeared to me a tortured smile.
I was right. She was indeed reflecting upon her reason to marry me. Wait, what did she say? Did she mean to say that she married me because she loves owls? What doe that mean?
Before your imagination runs wild, know that I don’t own an owlery. She WAS saying that I was indeed owl-like!
Every Indian knows that an owl isn’t regarded as a wise bird in India. In fact, calling someone an owl is an insult. “Ullu,” the diminutive name for this majestic bird, dumbs it down to “stupid,” and “Ullu ka pattha,” which translates to “son of owl,” adds another huge dollop of disdain to this insult.
So when wifey likened me to an owl, she wasn’t trying to say that I was wise and magnificent…
I thanked my stars that Mom wasn’t with us, or she would’ve transformed into a fire-breathing dragon upon wifey’s attempt to slander her precious son’s reputation. (Mom and only Mom has the right to call me “ullu,” which she does, every second day.)
I had only a moment to decide.
Sulk or bail?
I steered her to the glass artist’s table, where he sat crafting these little creatures out of differently colored glass rods, lifted one of his glass owls (it was as big as wifey’s thumb,) and asked him to craft one for wifey.
Wifey sat there watching him twist and turn the glass rods into the owl of her dreams, and I felt the shackles loosen. I looked around and realized how much I had been missing out on.
“Can I have another owl?” she cooed.
“Of course,” I replied, my eyes surfing the place.
A little later, I heard her again. “I just love those penguins, can I have them too?”
“Of course,” I said as I continued to surf the waves of my new found thought temporary freedom.
After about half an hour, or who knows, an hour perhaps, she rose.
The surfing metaphor reminded me of another, a creature of the Norwegian lore, the Kraken monster, rising from the depths of the ocean…
So she rose and approached as I scrambled to capture the last few colorful images that would burn to ashes if wifey’s askance glance happened see me purveying them. I succeeded in appearing like I was all the while attentively looking at her.
“Thousand rupees,” She smiled at me.
“Ok,” I said as the figure of thousand sunk in and my euphoria receded faster than the water of a tide ebbing because the Kraken monster decided to breathe in.
When we returned, Mom was waiting.
For some strange reason, seeing Mom right after visualizing the Kraken made me think of the Medusa.
“She bought some owls,” it tumbled out.
Mom burst out laughing.
“Tere hote hue bi usnu ullu len di zaroort pai gayi?”
(“She has you, still she needed to buy another owl?”)