Opinion and Editorial

Saying it with flowers

P.g. Bhaskar (TONGUE-IN-CHEEK)
Filed on July 1, 2013

Husbands come in all shapes and sizes; the small, meek type, the large gorilla variety, the rough, hairy kind, the smooth, metro-sexual type, the couch potato sports lover and the one who accompanies his wife to shops.

But ignoring details and getting right down to it, they fall into two broad groups. The one that brings the wife flowers and the one that doesn’t.

The act of giving one’s wife flowers isn’t simple. It’s not like giving a watch or a book. There’s much more to it and it boils down to your genes, the time and place of your birth, the school you went to, the company you kept in the formative years of your life, your upbringing, whether there was a flower shop in your town, whether your father bought your mother flowers and what your teacher told you about plucking flowers. All these have, in different degrees, an influence.

Now before you start getting worried (if you’re a husband) or excited (if you’re a wife) let me hasten to say that in my opinion, the act of giving or refraining from giving flowers does not make or mar a man. It is merely a classification, like say, categorizing apes across chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. I have no idea whether this categorization is correct, but the point I’m making is simply that the category does not, in itself, damn the constituent.

Right! Having got that out of the way, I feel safer. Flowers are tricky things. They signify freshness, soul and beauty. They carry a romantic streak. Flowers are bright and smell nice. Flowers soothe ruffled feathers. They assuage guilt. Women love them. So why doesn’t everyone give flowers?

Ah! If only life were so uncomplicated. You see, flowers being fragrant, colourful, pretty things, have a strong association with the feminine. Asking men who have grown up on dirt, grime and sport to buy flowers is almost akin to telling them to wear lipstick. They view flowers as delicate. They associate them with frailty. Not to take anything away from their love, but they would rather be seen dead in a ditch than spotted carrying flowers. Putting it bluntly, this group considers men who buy flowers ‘sissies’. They would avoid it – along with pink shirts and manicures- at any cost. There could be several minor reasons too, spanning culture, genetics and a whole lot besides. Besides, the more you delay giving your wife flowers, the more difficult it gets.

Yesterday, I found an unusually twisted, white object in our living room and stared at it.

“Admiring my vase?” my wife asked. I started. I had no idea she had been observing me. “Wha..?! Er…. Yes, yes.” I replied. “Admiring your er .. vase.”

“Isn’t it lovely! I bought it last night.”

Today, as I was returning from work, she called and asked me to pick up flowers to put in it. She named a shop. “It’s just on your way. I have already asked him to keep it ready.”

Anxious as I was to avoid being seen talking on my cell in my car, I quickly finished the call, parked and entered the shop, without thinking too much. Then suddenly, returning to reality, I froze. I was in a flower shop! And about to buy flowers for my wife! Of course, she had asked me to and it was for that vase, so it wasn’t that bad, technically speaking, but ….

“I ..er .. you see I ..my ..”.

“Your wife had called” the shopkeeper said. “Here it is.” We exchanged flowers for cash and I walked quickly to the car, my cheeks unusually red and warm. Back in my building, I waited for the lift, clutching the flowers and wishing they weren’t so conspicuous. The door opened and revealed a couple whom I knew. But before I could duck, the lady was on to me.

“Is it your wife’s birthday?” she gushed.

“No .. er ..no, I …it’s just ..” I entered.

“See?!” she turned to her husband. “Look at him! He’s bought his wife flowers just like that! So sweet!”

The lift rose. My heart sank. I looked down at my shoes. On the side of my head, a small, fiery hole was being drilled. The look of utter scorn from her husband’s eyes was piercing me like a laser beam.

P G Bhaskar is the author of ‘Corporate Carnival’ (Harper Collins) and ‘Jack Patel’s Dubai Dreams’ (Penguin, India)

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