Saturday, May 17, 2003

“The damn house is full of water and you have to choose this moment to play an ogre with the only plumber I could get? Get him calmed down at once!”

A lesser man would have been offended at the seeming unfairness of it all, but Anil was no lesser man. He took it in his stride and tried smiling at the miserable creature. Unfortunately all it seemed to do was to frighten him some more.

Just then, the phone rang and Renu went in to answer it. As soon as she’d gone, the man, suddenly a little more composed, whispered to Anil suggesting this might be a good time for the both of them to make a run for it.

Anil walked in to see a disaster unfold. As he entered he heard shouting. There was a seriously unkempt man who was being verbally assaulted by Renu.

Having been married to her for 15 years he had developed the capacity of sympathize with anyone Renu chose to yell at, which included most of the earth’s population. This man, while aesthetically unappealing, was still one of God’s creatures, and therefore deserving of sympathy when faced with Renu’s wrath.

But his experience had taught him that you don’t show this sympathy unless you want a quick transference of wrath in your own direction. So he stuck to the protocol expected from him under the circumstances. This required him to look sternly disapproving of the present subject of Renu’s ire and to add his 120 Kg weight to her point of view.

The unkempt gentleman had been cringing when faced with Renu alone, but when confronted with the sight of a very large gentleman looking grim (Anil had perfected the look), he turned around and bolted out of the door.

“Stop him” Renu yelled. 15 years of traing had taught Anil that it was not his to question why, but to do. So, Anil stepped after the man, who was a scrawny little man, less than half Anil’s size, and held him by his arm. That stopped him and Anil felt happy that he could do this to please his wife.

But the unkempt gentleman wasn’t happy. He panicked and began to scream. His fear served to render him completely incoherent. Secretly in complete sympathy with the man, Anil’s heart went out to him and he tried to make soothing noises, but that only appeared to add the man’s discomfiture. By the time Renu caught up with them , it was clear that unless something was done to ease the man’s panic he would need to be sedated soon.

“Are you mad?” said Renu “you’ve frightened the poor fellow out of his wits” Anil was dismayed to discover that instead of having pleased his wife he had again annoyed her again. His heart sank.

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