by Ayesha Adil

  • 14 Oct - 20 Oct, 2017
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Standing in front of the supermarket I felt confident. List in hand, I knew everything that I had to buy. Plus I had her vote of confidence. I had managed a few shopping trips that were un-incidental and I was promoted to the status of ‘shopping on my own’.

That felt great – I mean don’t get me wrong – I love shopping with her, but when I am on my own, I can explore and take all the time I need. The supermarket is like a jungle and I was looking forward to this.

My game plan was simple. Get the shopping done like an Olympic sprinter and then just go around the store, laze, try out the new samples of fried savories, drinks, teas and maybe even perfumes. Could life be any better?

I took out the list that she gave me from my pocket. This was the life. These are the happy times.

One glance at the list and my world collapses around my ears. This is not the grocery list! This is her to-do list for Monday!

What happened? How did I mess this up? I was promoted. I became the you-may-now-shop-alone husband. What just happened? I picked up the list from her desk like she told me. It was so simple. It was literally a piece of cake.

Now, for all you unmarried men out there, this may seem like a bubble in the course of your existence but for us, already husbanded fellows, this could be the difference between life and death. I could seriously die if she found out the blunder that I had made. I picked up the wrong shopping list! The wrong list! My life was over!

Life is not happy anymore. I am not happy. I am in the jungle and I am prey to whatever beast is out there waiting to eat me up. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. I could feel my life flash before me. Is this how it will end? I expected a more dramatic show down. The obituary will read: “Cause of death: Husband forgot shopping list at home. Went shopping without a list.”

I could call her. I could WhatsApp, but then that would mean admitting my mistake.

What does the rule book say about admitting mistakes? For you: A husband, “Thou shalt not admit your mistakes.”

I’m dizzy now. If I faint, I am useless. No wait; if I faint, I can be taken home on a stretcher and Saima will never find out what happened. I can explore this game changer. I could actually do this. They call an ambulance or call the closest kin, in this case Saima, and finally I could be redeemed. I began envisioning the possibilities of this further.

But could I put her

through this?

I imagine my daily diary tonight would read, “However, as I stood there contemplating my near death or my near fainting, I could only imagine her face of horror and tears and her shock. I could not do that to her. I loved her too much.”

So I stood there motionless, frozen, unable to move or breathe.

I could feel the life ebbing out of me. But I had to keep going for her sake, her love and her happiness. The things we do for love and commitment… the sacrifices we make, but then that’s life. I have no regrets there.

As I stood in the aisle with beads of sweat glistening on my forehead, I noticed a shop helper approach me, cautiously.

“Can I help you, Sir?” he asked.

No one can help me now. I am doomed. If I go back home and admit to my mistake, I may not get to this point in a million years. In fact she will never trust me with any chore around the house or outside.

My life, as I knew it, was over. I noticed the perplexed shop helper moved a safer distance away. I think my quivering lip and my pained facial expression was frightening him.

I had the sickening notion that he might call security.

“Mad man in aisle 3. May be armed.”

Think man, think. Use all your super powers and solve this problem. World peace as we know it depends on it. But the world is not a peaceful place. After I go home tonight it will be a more un-peaceful place than ever before.

A small timid voice inside of me whispered, “Be a man!”

That voice knew nothing; that voice could actually get me killed.

It was clear. I couldn’t go back and I couldn’t get any of this shopping done either. Life as I knew it was over for me. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I mean, I made my parents proud; I was a good son to them, had a cushiony job, a career. I hadn’t amassed great wealth but I kept everyone around me happy and well-fed. I had met and married the woman of my dreams.

Technically, I could depart this world now and be a happy man. People would remember me with respect and adoration. Yes, it could work.

But then survival instinct kicked in. I couldn’t go so easily without a fight. There must be some way of bringing me back. Resuscitate. Use the paddles. What are they called?

“Clear, he’s coming back Doctor! Clear,” bleep, bleep, bleep. I’m saved. I can breathe again. I’m back.

I can restore any lost dignity and I think I can come out of this mess in one complete piece.

Reading those Agatha Christie mysteries have not gone to waste – look for the finer details.

I was having breakfast when she was making her list. What were the things that she was looking for which needed to be refilled? Yes, that’s a good spot to begin with. She asked me if I needed anything. Well, that’s good. I can at least fill up half the cart with things that I need.

I found myself chuckling to myself. The store helper jumped and ran.

Ok then. I have a plan. I will get the basic essentials – milk, bread, butter, eggs, you know the drill. Then I will pile up on the things that “I need” and no one will be the wiser.

If she asks why I missed out a few items I will simply say that the store was out. I could almost feel the light bursting through the seams. I was smart. I was so smart. I got this. Hands down, I got this.

The remaining part of the shopping spree was a piece of cake – a piece of cake that I even bought for my dear, sweet wife. Life was good again, life was so beautiful. Why do people worry so much? I mean, life is perfect. It just depends on the choices you make and the challenges you meet eye to eye.

I breezed through the store with my cart all set to go. I envisioned entering my house a victor and no one would be the wiser. I would quickly go home and change the lists before she noticed.

Aha Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Nothing could go wrong now my dear. I am the hero. I am the hero in most of my stories. But I think by far this is the best one.

The guy at the till could not help but notice. I was standing there gloating; my face aglow with so much joy.

I glided to the parking lot. Not even a black swan ballerina could have more agility, more grace. I began to put away the goodies in the trunk of my car; the milk, the eggs – ever so gently, the bread. Then came the other bags, the huge and the small. Who said I can’t do anything on my own. I am a man!

I didn’t notice the red Mira pull up close to my car. I was so engrossed in my own thoughts that even the car honking went unheard.

Falalalala!! Hmm… got to get home and change that list. That’s the easy part. The hard part was this. And did I do that well.

I heard the car door open beside me. I even randomly heard a voice call out my name. My name? I didn’t think I could become a National Celebrity so soon.

And I looked up to see Saima standing next to me with a smile on her face and the shopping list in her outstretched hand.

As I stare at her dumbfounded, an ambulance siren wails in the background. •