Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned; in a photograph that is. If her hair is not right, her double chin pops up, or if her tummy-bulge shows - a barrage of silent abuse come the photographer’s way. For some reason, most men behind the camera are unable to grasp the simple complexity of it all.
So I’m picking up my cousin and her husband on the way to a family wedding. When I reach their apartment, the couple is nowhere in sight. Her husband calls to say that he is ready, but wifey will take some time. After ten minutes, when my petticoat string begins to suffocate me to death, the apologetic couple arrives.
My cousin’s husband, a jovial army-man, lightens the air with his cheerful ho hum. I notice that his witty fire power is met with a glacial silence from his wifey. Oblivious of the frost in the car, the amiable army man begins to dig a trench for himself, one shovel at a time. ‘We were ready at eight but she wanted me to click her pictures. Which is why we got delayed,’ he shoots.
I understand. The side with the simplest uniform wins the war. For women, getting wedding ready is a stressful affair. There are safety pins to tuck, sari pallav to adjust, pleats that don’t fall in line, jewelry hooks that refuse to behave, earring screws that disappear under the bed and last minute pictures to click. When you take hours to get ready, the outcome deserves social media validation.
‘See,’ my cousin scrolls down her phone. ‘I look like an aunty in all the pics.’
‘Haha, not my fault. I click what I see,’ her husband digs deeper. 'Jaisi shakl hai vaisi photo ayegi.'
Pin. Drop. Silence. All I hear is the buzz of the traffic.
I try to thaw the frost by indulging in some rear seat girl talk. Misery, after all, loves company.
‘You are not alone darling, it’s the same story here. Each time I ask my husband to click a picture, he messes up big time. Either my eyes are closed or my hair doesn’t look right. When my hair looks perfect, my face looks horrific,’ I say.
Water gushes out of the dam. My cousin shares her trauma in a low voice, ‘First he forgets to pick my sari from the dry cleaners. When I select a new sari, the blouse doesn’t fit. Instead of helping me out, he starts the timer. Ten minutes to eight, seven minutes to eight, five minutes to eight. See, I couldn’t even blow-dry my hair.’ Then she turns around and asks, ‘the curls look tidy, no?’
‘Love your curls. Always envied them.’
The sun begins to shine again. Partly. She says, ‘I wore a sari after a long time. Thought I’ll nail Instagram today. Will have to make do with the selfies.’
Always believe in your #selfies.
While we are having a hushed conversation, the good man is on a suicide mission. He forgets the Murphy's law of combat - Never mess with a loaded weapon. The trigger for his funny bout is perhaps the guilt of arriving late. He chuckles, ‘Talking about selfies, do you know she clicked dozens only to delete them all? Haha, women are so picky about their selfies.’
‘I wish I was as picky about my man as I’m about my selfies,’ she shoots back.
‘Stop it, you two. I’ll take your pictures once we reach the venue,’ I offer.
‘Great,’ she says in a hushed tone. ‘Seriously, what’s the point of his training and degrees when he can’t even click one decent picture?’
Point. No point, I mean.
Once we reach the venue, the ice begins to thaw. We have a gala time clicking pictures before we greet others. All is well with the world.
On our way back in the car, the frost returns. Still wearing his sunny demeanor, the army man asks me, ‘Minutes ago she was laughing and giggling. What happened to your sis now?’
I can't blame the army man for his naivete. Instead of a tactical retreat, he has landed himself in no man's land. Looks like he is in for a long night in the trenches.