Every time a space mission is announced and I am invited to be part of it because I am so funny, I have to turn it down with a heavy heart. Knowing that I can never be part of a mission to Mars makes my heart sink faster than the Titanic. Just as our spacecraft has crossed the 10 millionth mile, I’ll be seized by a doubt so terrible that I’ll insist we turn back immediately. The niggling doubt would have crept in on day 50 of the galactic journey but I’ll try brushing it off as irrational. But doubts are like faithful stalkers and refuse to leave your side. In fact they become nastier and more persistent with time.
By day 150 I will be a nervous wreck with ‘Did I lock the main door when I left my house’ echoing in my head in full Dolby fidelity. Of course I did, is how I will try to console myself. I am after all a responsible woman. I will replay the scene just when I am about to leave the house. I will recall locking all the balcony doors, checking the gas-stove for the 25th time, running upstairs to see if I had really switched off the iron.
The iron bit is really important. On our last trip to Kazakhstan I was a total wreck because I just couldn’t remember switching it off after I had ironed my favourite shirt that I wanted to wear on the flight. I spent the next week imagining our house being burnt to cinders, my 200 pairs of lovingly collected shoes gone. My saris that I never wear burnt to ashes, my measly 499 grams of gold melted. My lovely pair of jeans that makes my butt look like a million bucks charred beyond recognition. Damn it, I should have carried it with me! Will I ever recover from the debilitating guilt of rendering my family homeless! What if I can never laugh again? As I sat on the hop on and hop off bus trying my best to soak in the sights, all I could do was wipe my tears imagining our homeless, penniless rest of our lives. The stupid guide mistook it for tears of happiness. Idiot!
When I suggested to the husband that we take an earlier flight back home because the weather wasn’t suiting me, he gave me that knowing look. What is it this time that you think you forgot to switch off, my darling? The darling bit was dripping with sarcasm. I think this sarcasm thing is contagious. When we got married he was perfectly normal.
I don’t blame him. Initially he did indulge me. Like the time when we were watching a play and I turned to him in panic and said, I think I left the gas on. He drove his bike so fast, by the time we reached home, our hair was looking like The Leaning Tower of Pisa. And the gas was turned off.
Strangely he did not share my relief.
Of course experience has made me wiser. These days I prefer taking the lift up and down at least half a dozen times to check whether all appliances are switched off, the inner door of the kitchen firmly locked, before we finally leave. In fact this is such a good cardio workout, I recommend it for all.
But the Mars mission will be different. I will be too busy tweeting about the historic moment and how proud I am of myself. I will have to post my selfies on Instagram where I am pouting and trying to look serious at the same time with captions like - #excited #WohooMarsHereIcome #IamTheBest #DoesMarsHaveMalls? Then I will have to reply to all the 197 comments on Facebook congratulating me and wishing I never come back.
With so much to do, the last thing on my mind will be taking care of mundane stuff such as locking the door. It’s much much later, it’ll occur to me I should have asked my husband to take care of it. But he hasn’t been speaking to me for the last six months and has moved in with his parents.
Which dutiful wife leaves her man behind and takes off for another planet that’s not even hers to occupy! Mars is for men and Venus is where the women are meant to be headed for.
Anyway, once the excitement subsides and I am without Wifi with nothing to keep me entertained but my own thoughts is when I will realize – Oh my god, did I actually lock the door of my house!
It’s so much easier when you wake up in the middle of the night, tumble down the stairs and break a few teeth on your way down to check if you have locked the main door. Funnily despite all this maniacal diligence, we have still managed to sleep with the door unlocked, only to be woken up by our building’s guard and given a friendly rebuke. Once I even left the keys hanging on the outside of the door. Since we were the only residents with a single car, no driver and only two hired helps, we were not deemed worthy of being robbed.
I wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time I was a carefree young girl. I think I was in college when the fetish for straightening bedsheets discovered me. I was so obsessed with it that sometimes I’d start pulling and tugging at the sheet even when we had guests sitting on the bed. Once I managed to topple them all so that I could do a good job of it. Soon I graduated to returning from the bus-stop just to check if I had really switched off the iron and missing my college-special.
They say phobia is irrational fear. But tell me, what’s irrational about making doubly, triply sure that you have done something right! Rather this is the hallmark of a perfectionist. Also with great responsibilities comes the worry that you’ll mess up. So that makes me a responsible perfectionist.
The only way I can get rid of my phobias is by moving to an uninhabited place, with no electricity and just caves to hide in. Just like Tora Bora in Afghanistan, Taliban’s hiding place where they hatch plots to kill the infidels.
Maybe I will. The journey will be much shorter than the one to Mars.
It’s time I moved on to new phobias. I’ve been faithful to the old ones for too long.