Pavlov was right.
When a human being opens a present her mouth salivates. When she so much as sees the gift-wrapping a second time, she begins salivating. By the time she gets used to the husband’s foreign trips all you have to do is ring a bell to signify the plane is about to land at IGI, and she will salivate and salivate so much that by the time the doorbell rings, with his baggage in tow, he’ll walk in only to slip on a pool of it and be floored by her, for the nth time. She will flutter her lashes and ask in honey-sweet voice – ‘How was your trip, darling? What did you get for your lovely?’
Oo, you’ve got me curious. It’s not precious jewelry, unless it’s a lot of it. And that would not make it very precious.
It’s not what? Not jewelry or not precious or not both?
Open it. Something typically Seoul.
How would I know? Like I’ve been there before, even though my husband has many times now!
Just open it.
Pretty duckies. For the kid’s bubble bath?
They’re Mandarin ducks, silly. It’s a couple. The red is the female the blue the male. Also called Wedding Ducks.
So? What do you think?
Um, do they open, like, you know, a piggy bank? Or, do they quack when we twist the beak. That sounds like a wedding there. They must have some … use, if you paid your Zen's worth, right?
They are just decorative pieces. Symbolically given to new couples, and traditionally carved by best friends. Actually, I read this later, the mother-in-law tosses the female duck to the daughter-in-law. If she catches it, the first child will be a boy and ...
Oh dear, you don’t know what my friends will carve to symbolize marriage. As for the rest, how Indian-y crazy! But we’re anyway past the catchum-catch. One boy is here too.
No but there’s more. You see, they are symbolic …
Don’t say symbolic. The last I heard symbolism is a malaise of hi-funda writers who like to complexify language to befuddle budding writers.
Oh whatever. Back to the duckies …
Ducks! Mandarin Ducks!
Yes. Calm down. I never said they are not. See how you are feeding into those ‘singles’ who love to stereotype marriage? That we have to scream to be heard, bend backwards to please, compromise daily and boy, we can’t even know what travel truly means!
Huh? How would they know?
Exactly! Exactly what I think and on top of that ...
Right. So, about the ducks, I do feel you don’t like them.
I certainly do, darling. As much as I liked the pink organic cotton Imambari Muffler you got from Japan, with cotton from our own Andhra Pradesh, exported, I’m sure. About the ducks. I’m just somewhere between like and love. I do love the colours though ...
Love reminds me. These ducks signify ever-lasting marriage and life-long love. Mandarin duck is the only duck which mates for life, with one partner.
Ha ha ha ha!
Nothing. I like the significance. I would kill for it if it were otherwise. Heh heh!
Hm. So, these ducks stand for fidelity, peace and plentiful offspring.
Great. Shall we go to bed with them and plan a second?
You don’t like them, say so!
I do! I do! Oh come on! And I’m quite happy to see this romantic side in a man after all these years of marital bliss and one foreign family vacation and so many fridge magnets you have got for the fridge after all your official trips and …
You don’t like them.
I most definitely do. So, where do we keep them, these, um, prettily coloured duckies. Ducks, ducks I meant!
Now here comes the interesting part …
When the couple is in harmony with each other, the ducks are kept bill-to-bill..
Aww. Like kissy-kissy.
Who do you mean?
Traditionally, like in big houses. Big families. Lots of people staying together.
Why? In Seoul couples never scream at each other enough to announce their disharmony across the wooden walls?
Er, those are in Japan.
Whatever. Same thing for me. Like I have seen either!
Fine. How do you want me to keep them right now?
Bill-to-bill. I don’t want the ‘single’ marriage “stereotypers” to see the bills looking away. I like being married. It’s fun, enriching and makes you grow up as you grow old.
Great! Top shelf of the book rack. What say?
You have never agreed so quickly before. You just don’t like them!
Stop saying that. I absolutely adore them. How can you force such assumptions into our relationship, using the ducks as scapegoats? Look at the intricate carving and the lush colours, the neatness and all the symbolism attached. Go now. Do the deed. Wait! What is this thread around the girly duck’s beak?
Oh, that. It’s just a sign that silence is a virtue and the wife should be quiet and support the husband…
Pavlov knew only half the story. What may have ensued you all know. 'Singles' even more than 'doubles'. The