The voice of the other woman

By Purva Grover

You may blame life’s stress for the voices in your head. You may brush them off as figments of your imagination. It’s natural to do so. It’s unwelcoming, the other voice, especially if it’s that of the other woman and you are a wife, flaunting the sash of ‘Happily Married’.

Adding to the confusion of your thoughts about ‘they lived happily ever after’ are ‘well-researched’ pieces titled, “Indians have the lowest divorce rate in the world.” You, an Indian, think to yourself, how that’s going to change. Because now it’s not just the two of you in the apartment, you are also sharing this blissful home with her.

Call her by any name, Siri, Alexa or Google Home. Address her or not, she’s there in your space — discreetly listening to your most intimate conversation, eating into your electricity bill, and occasionally sending you friendly reminders that courtesy of me,  your limbs will give way sooner than expected — but fret not, I won’t give up on you.

<Don’t get up, I have it sorted. #couchpotato>

So, how do you deal with her presence? How do you go about your life interrupted — cooking your meals, reading a book (some of us still do that), entertaining friends on a weekend, et al? You don’t. Instead, you begin to get amused with how her presence has an effect on those around you.

Your friends drop by and want her to play their kind of songs. She is at her best behaviour in front of outsiders; most kids and pets are good at that, right? So, she dishes out the RD Burman song list from Spotify. Voila. There, a great sales pitch.

Your niece plays Akinator via her. This time a male voice takes over, never a threat. During the gameplay, he attempts to guess what fictional or real-life character you, the player, is thinking of by asking a series of questions. Trust a man to know what a woman, in this case, a 10-year-old little lady, is thinking about! Time flies by, no one has to play with her! She is occupied — perfect playdate.  “Take her with you,” you try to act smart. Good riddance.

Your sister gives you the look. She can’t deal with two uncontrolled voices at home.

Your house help accidentally utters the word ‘traffic’ whilst explaining why he got late to work. Boom, he is presented with the traffic report on Sheikh Zayed Road and beyond. You’ve left the room. He didn’t ask for it, but then he doesn’t know how to say, “Hey Google, Stop.” He never gets late to work, again.

It’s all good, with visitors, but then this is about the man and her. Right? Someone who really loves you sees what a mess you can be, how moody you can get, how hard you are to handle but still wants you in their life.

“Hey Google, can you play Black Mirror on Netflix?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you please repeat?”

He repeats.

“Do you want it to be played on Living Room TV?”

He gets frustrated, “Well, I have only one TV.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you please repeat.”

“Hey Google, can you play Black Mirror on Netflix on Living Room TV?”

It plays. At an undesirable volume.

“Hey Google, can you increase the volume by 20 per cent”

The percentage is not the strongest point, nor his, neither hers.

The volume and tone of his voice make a dangerous shift. There is anger, a certain sense of disappointment as well. But there’s no giving up. Your partner, a person known to speak softly at most times, is disturbed.

In your head and otherwise, you laugh out loud.

“Can you please get the box of strawberries from the refrigerator?”

No response.

“Did you hear me?”

“Oh, can you please, repeat. I missed it.”

You do.

By the time, he makes it to the refrigerator — the name of the said fruit has been consumed by the airwaves in the universe.

So, you repeat.

Just then, refrigerator blindness acts up. The task doer can’t figure out the rectangular box, despite being the only box on the shelf.

All is not lost.

You can raise your voice, crib or go over the entire conversation again.

But then, you are smarter than technology.

You fetch the box on your own and life is as sweet as strawberries once again.

Obsession with technology is one of the male gender’s biggest passion and the female’s most cherished pet peeves. The two genders over the decades have found a balance.

And yes, that voice is real, but she has issues with comprehension, empathy, and male behaviour, in general. Congrats, your marriage is safe, and your man’s insanity is only your headache.

Last week, she worked as a mediator between him and me. He broadcasted a message via her to reach me, while I sat in the living room.

She did her job, I didn’t care to respond. I didn’t switch on the water heater.

You are smarter than technology. Always remember that.

He showered with icy cold water. What better way to enjoy this last leg of Dubai winters, right?

purva@khaleejtimes.com

Purva is a storyteller in search of her favourite word.

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