The better Half is Best in Triplicate
The lockdown made me appreciate my better half better. I could begin to understand why everything in the household needed to be in double, triple and sometimes more. Even in pre-pandemic times, if we needed to buy a food processor, there would have to be two of them. Why? “Just in case,” he would say. Just in case, what? “What if the lid of the processor blows out of the open window,” he would reply. Well, it would still land in the neighbour’s garden and I could retrieve it from there, I would say.
Cut to pandemic and middle of lockdown. The food processor conked off and out came the twin, carefully swaddled and put away in the almirah. I was still a wee bit skeptical; after all, the warranty has long expired. What if the old buy — we bought it in 2013 — didn’t work? There was no way we can claim warranty. Who hoards processors this long? My mind whirred.
But talk of hoarder’s luck, the spare processor worked just fine and continues to, to date. In the meantime, my better half ordered two more. They have arrived since and have taken up space in the almirah.
Now, what if the electricals of the house don’t work? They certainly didn’t for two days after Amphan. So no matter how many processors you might hoard, you will still be without the dosa batter or the onion paste. I must have said as much for he whipped out the smartphone and within seconds was onto the app that is much like Aladdin’s lamp. He typed the words shil noda and like a conjurer it threw up images of hand grind stone sets.
And before I knew it, ensconced in bubble wraps and styrofoam, the shil noda arrived. The delivery person looked quizzically at me as he dropped the hefty parcel at our doorstep. The mortar and pestle also arrived and now no one is spoilt for choice when it comes to grinding anything in my household, my nose included.
He also saw to it that we were never in danger of running short of toilet paper during the lockdown. We had rolls filling up more than one cabinet.
It was not long before the hoarder had made a convert of sorts of me. I quite enjoyed the searching, the scrolling, the add-to-basket and negotiating the world of high-pitched sales. Together, he and I discovered that one could actually get two quilts free if you ordered one; five trousers free if you ordered two and they would come in different colours too. The idli-maker we ordered came with a free chopping board and a set of knives, no matter that we had already purchased a fancy bamboo chopping board and an ominous looking butcher’s knife a few days ago.
And then there were jerrycans full of sanitiser.
Some were as thick as petroleum jelly, some as thin as water. We had different brands, different colours, different fragrances. From the jerrycans they needed to be transferred to smaller bottles. Some small enough to fit into the trouser pocket, others needed to sit upright in dussel bags without spilling over, while still others needed to be fitted with nozzles that sprayed a fine mist. And preparing for such exigencies elicited some more frenetic online searching and shopping. Apart from bottles and nozzles, also arrived sensor-fitted sanitiser bottles that squirted out the liquid in measure adequate enough to kill the virus on your hands, if any. And then, a friend shared a make-at-home sanitiser recipe with the husband.
Among its ingredients were Doctor’s Spirit and petroleum jelly. Before the better half could order tins of jelly and spirit, I fished out half a bottle of spirit that had been lying unused at least for a decade or so. That won’t work, barked the spouse. Why? Had the old spirit evaporated? I checked. It hadn’t. But no amount of vigorous shaking would emulsify the jelly in the spirit.
Once more, helter-skelter we took a deep dive into social media. Isopropyl alcohol, aloe vera gel, essential oils and what have you were ordered in due course. By the end of it all, there were neatly stacked bottles of homemade sanitiser that I could sell from the front porch of my house, if there were any takers.
As the pandemic waned and friends and guests dropped in, they marvelled at the neat rows kept at our home entrance before heading straight for the washbasin for a thorough cleansing with soap and water. But as the pandemic wanes and the vaccination drive gains momentum, I cannot help but wonder what I will do with these jerrycans. Ideas, anyone?