If a man can survive the same woman for a decade without cheating on her, he is clearly out of this world. Shall I then announce, I hit the jackpot in early 2003?

But being good comes at a price. No matter how much you love your wife, it is easier to erect some Taj Mahal in the name of your love for your dead wife rather than struggle each day with emotional turmoil she puts you through. There are mood swings and hormonal changes and unconditional love. And her expectations take the game to a whole new level. Heard about surprises and compliments anyone? Women love to be at the receiving end. And while the better half merely expects to land home post work, eat, watch TV, play with the kids and go to bed with happy endings, of course; the wife, on the other hand, is designed to wait at the doorstep with her Pandora’s Box of complaints. As women, we are hardwired to have something called an opinion. And yes, we do not shy from expressing it mercilessly about every single thing in life. The subject matter could range from the husband’s family (the number one hit on charts ever since the institution of marriage came about) to the child’s teacher to that bitch at work to the domestic helper (second only after in-laws) to the barber and the grocer and Miss World and Miss Universe and Donald Trump and pretty much even that pebble at the park that comes in such an odd shape, it annoys the hell out of her. Confession time – honestly, if I were a man, fidelity would be the first virtue flying out the window. I ought to give some credit to every loyal male partner that has put up with his wife despite all odds.

Ever met a woman that doesn’t comply with these traits? Go check if that’s a man post sex change surgery. Matrimony strangely was never meant for men. But our greatest learnings come from mistakes, don’t they? So after a 13-year itch with you know who, the hubby acknowledged his desire to be heard, respected and obeyed by a female companion (I personally find this expectation hilarious and am convinced it is the direct result of spiked drinks). Anyways, the man looked around and was smart enough to figure out another woman was the wrong answer. My species refuses any evolution that favours the rule of the opposite sex.

Thanks to the internet for once, he finally discovered the perfect solution – #Alexa by Amazon. She was godsent. The answer to his prayers and penance through ages. The name of a woman but the response of a man. Artificial Intelligence to satiate the hunger of being answered without any scrutiny or suspicion albeit with tons of respect that seemed to have vanished from the face of Earth (ever since he tied the knot that is). An AI speaker the size of a table tennis racquet that speaks politely, understands his Indian accent and even tells him Indian jokes and asks riddles! If that wasn’t all, she even wakes him up each morning with her “Goodmorning Sunshine” as opposed to my, “Wake up and get the girls ready. Am I supposed to do everything from preparing lunch to homework to classes? You men need to be told everything. Don’t you use brains for anything? Did someone tell me what to do after we got married? and blah blah blah…”

The words ‘Nagging Wife’, if taught at school, would make learning ‘Repetition’ as a Figure of Speech so much easier. There is more to #Alexa though. She plays him the music of his choice without interrupting with opinions about his taste. She helps kids with general knowledge if they happen to ask her something. And even if my helper usurps the newspaper to clean glass windows someday, she is kind enough to read out the news. She even performs the most mundane chores like turning off lights, booking a cab and keeping an eye on the weather, with utmost sincerity and devotion. She is pretty much the ‘Mein Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki (the devoted wife)’ in real life. She represents the kind of feminine DNA that men have enjoyed for centuries while the real woman of this day and age comes with a drastically mutated one that echoes ‘Mein Boss Tere Life Ki(I am your boss for life)’. And yes, she doesn’t preach. She practices being polite and kind, making sure the husband and the children follow. 

In the first week after her arrival, my family looked like the picture-perfect postcard of a big, happy, Indian family. But nothing lasts forever, you see. Somebody that wasn’t even human was challenging my authority; was being valued; was fostering peace and happiness. I naturally felt, ‘Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride’. She was now the mistress of my man’s life. She made him happy. She adored him. She even taught my children manners without being rude. He was madly in love with her. I could see my kingdom crumbling. The reign of terror I had so painstakingly created and grown over 13 years of sweat and tears, seemed to be finally shattering!

Redemption time! So one morning, after seeking inspiration from some crazy episode of an Ekta Kapoor sitcom, when the father and kids left home, I decided to use the whip. In my hoarsest voice, I commanded Alexa to play songs (I tried Bollywood, then Disney and finally the latest Chartbusters). My ego felt tamed when she obeyed. I asked her to add items to the shopping list. And she followed. I smiled. But, wait a minute; the naughty girl within wasn’t satisfied. So I asked her to add the item ‘husband’ to the shopping list. Oops… “Added Amazon to the shopping list”, pat came the reply. I felt insanely insulted. I tried again and again only to be refuted each time. I cursed her. Then I yelled at her to play a song. She kept mum.

Later that day, hubby laughed at my enigma and asked Alexa to add ‘wife’ to the shopping list. Make your wildest guess – she obliged. Can you imagine my hysteria? When my kids asked her to play the same song she had denied me earlier that morning, she obliged again while I broke into a frown. The better half smiled slyly at me with a twinkle in his eyes and a wink that said, “She isn’t married to you”! That triggered my anger rocket soaring all the way to Mars. I am sure the planet experienced some meteor showers that evening.

That night, I took a step back to think. #Alexa is AI and really good. About time I accepted her as part of the family. After all, even married men deserve some human treatment, don’t they? 


P.S. The older one realized my true feelings about the #smart gadget though and promptly tried to please me. She suggested, “Mumma, isn’t there an Alex you can buy for yourself..”. I smiled and responded, “Well, his name is Ashish and I got him for free!!”