We will pray for grandfather, she said,
in the hope that he will develop a sense of humour.
And we will pray that he becomes less tired.
He has been tired, you know,
for all of his life.
She smiled as she said it,
and reclaimed a stitch that had fallen,
rocking to the cadence of her own speech
and the clacking rhythm of the needles.
It is difficult to be the man of the household…
She was speaking almost to herself,
as though in a reverie, with the rest of us forgotten.
… so much burden and responsibility,
for the earning of the money, the making of decisions
and having to stay aloof to bear failures and mishaps.
To stifle the questions that are unbecoming
when directed to the man.
We will pray grandfather recovers from his tiredness,
she said, and pray that he does not need to be so aloof
to avoid having to explain the shortfall
in the household accounts that worsened last Saturday,
and quite a few Saturdays before.
Why, even I may recover a sense of humour …
and with that her smile broadened
and there was a notable gleam in her eyes,
as though she’d said a wickedly delicious thing,
as she rocked and knitted.
© Frank Prem, 2001