“Can you pass the salt?” he said.
“Which one?” she asked.
“The white one. What do you mean which one?” he said.
“Sorry” she said, “I was distracted.”
“By?” he asked, stuffing handful of rice in his mouth, chewing it loudly, rolling his eyes.
“By that!” she said. Pointing at his face.
He slowly turned his head around, expecting a ghost or an intruder or at least an animal waiting to pounce at him.
“By … whatttt?” he said, his mouth half open in terror and half stuffed with yellow rice.
“Ughh … by thatttt” she yelled, “look at your fucking hand.”
So he looked at his hand. Turned his palm around and looked at the other side of his hand. He couldn’t see much. Then he lifted his left arm resting on his knees, hiding under the dinning table and looked at that. Still nothing. He stared harder.
“Aaa … what are you doing?” she said
“Looking at my hand” he said.
“There is dal all over it” she said.
“Ah! Okay. I get it, you are mad that our marriage ring is soaked in dal? Aren’t you?”
“Nope! Not at all” she said.
“Then? What are you mad at?”
“Oh god! How do I begin?” She sighed.
“No, no … tell me. Go on … What is it?”
“Sweetie, it’s not just our ring,” she said, “all your fingers are soaked in dal. You have folded your sleeves , which is a smart thing to do, given how you eat, but you should have folded it till your elbows, there is daal on your sleeves too! You know what? You should wear half sleeves at the dinner table. Yup, from now on, you are going to wear half sleeves while eating. In fact, no wait … you should wear sleeveless t-shirts. In fact wear a fucking vest. Eat naked. I don’t care. ”
“Aan huh”he nodded, swallowing her hateful words and the left over yellow rice in his mouth, “I am listening. Go on …”
“Good! Because you usually don’t.” she said. “But now that you are, can you tell me what is that chunk of rice doing on your left hand?”
He looked at his left palm.
“No not your palm. Look at your fucking elbow. I wouldn’t get that much rice on my elbows even if I did a 200 meter rice crawl.”
Next, he wiped all that rice from his elbow and put all that back in his plate.
“Could you be more disgusting? Even our kids don’t make such a mess while eating. And forget kids, even our pets clean up after they make a mess.” she said.
“So? Did I not just clean my mess, right now?” he said.
“Oh god, that’s not the point.”
“Then what is it? What’s your point?”
“My point is that you don’t know how to eat. And you are tacky. And you don’t know how to use the toilet …”
“Honey”, he interrupted, “Are you telling me that I left dal in the toilet? Coz I am a good man who never leaves dal in the toilet and who never will.”
There was an awkward silence for some time. And then she said, “You know what? I have a theory. I have a theory that people like you, who don’t know how to eat” she said, making air quotes “had terrible mothers. Unorganized, uncivilized moms who did not know basic living rules. Cave women. They just lived, somehow, somewhere, had sex, gave birth to some useless beings, who turned up to be these animals with no civic or interpersonal or individual etiquette or awareness.
These offspring, they just never care if they come out as these off putting, off tracked, disgusting, disliked gargoyles for humans.”.
To which he said, “Okay … first of all, that’s not a theory, that’s a hypothesis at best. Jesus! I thought you are a science professor. You know … a hypothesis is either a suggested explanation for an observable phenomenon, or a reasoned prediction of a possible casual correlation among multiple phenomenon.” A theory on the other hand sweetie, “is a well tested, well substantiated, unifying explanation for a set of verified proven factors.” He said, and then he did that thing, where he licked all his fingers one after the other, making a sucking, slurpy sound – on purpose. Loudly.
Then he did something else he wouldn’t otherwise would have. He soaked all his fingers in dal and licked them one after the other.
“Fuck it!”. He thought. He had made a point.
“Let’s not change the subject” she yelled.
“Are you sure?” he said, “because, if you ask me, you should consider changing the subject. Science doesn’t seem like a good fit for you.”
“You know what? I am done.” She yelled. Went in the room. Packed her bags minimally. Came out. “I am going” she said “going for a walk, and perhaps never coming back, till you change the way you eat or the way you talk to me.”
“Come on now” he held her hands. “It’s our 20th anniversary. Don’t leave like this. Don’t be such a party pooper.” He said.
“What? Are you for real?” she said.
“Yes. I am” he said “and so are they”.
And then He clapped. And their friends, and their relatives, and their teenage kids, hiding behind the couch, in the kitchen, under the coffee table, under the bed, from the toilet, in the closet, etc. came out with snow sprays, cakes, balloons and all that anniversary stuff they had brought over, “screaming happy 20th anniversary, you two.”
She dropped the bag and hugged their faces all at once.
He sat on the dinning chair, gobbling his left over rice, screaming, “Can someone. For the love of god. Pass the fucking salt to me? God! I don’t have any importance in this house or what?”