My husband is highly phobic to photographs; not to his own (he adores them), neither to mine (he adores them too or at least pretends) but to other people's photographs.

Whenever we go visiting friends, the topic of recent vacations and celebrations is sure to pop up. That triggers off his series of symptoms. He throws furtive glances at me saying" I forbid you to pursue the topic, let it die a pre-mature death." His smile weakens and there is a helplessness in his eyes. He makes polite but curt replies. He lies low; wishing that the storm predicted for the day after, would happen here and now and blow the topic away. But invariably, the host is quite oblivious of his condition and rather too enthusiastic. "Hey, get the album, they would like to see the photographs!" Whoever gave him the idea that we would like to see the photographs? I avoid the accusing eyes of my husband. I never did it!

He sits with his fingers crossed hoping that the hosts are as good as him in misplacing things and would not find the album . But soon someone emerges with the dreaded missile. Hubby dear wears the same resigned look as when going to the dentist. "OK folks, so here I am and here is a problem .Let us get through with it as soon as and as painlessly as possible."

When the album (s) arrives, he sits beside me and tries to block away the host so that he can decimate the album in fractions of a second .But the host in his bid to entertain us ,prefers giving a lively commentary. "She is my mother's sister's husband and that is my second cousin." My husband grudgingly lets himself get enlightened on the existence of a plethora of relatives. He has not seen his own marriage album twice and would not know my bua from my mami! And here he is, poor soul! I can hardly stifle a giggle.

At times, he tries to fast forward the album turning two to three leaves at one go. The host is kind enough to point it out "Oh you missed the last one. "And he turns back, narrating everything about everyone ' My husband is breathing fire!

Though his symptoms encompass all forms of photographs, they aggravate at the prospect of looking at marriage photographs. The endless photo-sessions with endless relatives gets on his nerves. He emerges out of them as if from a concentration camp. The second category is that of Patel shots which announce "Been there, done that". "Me standing in front of Taj Mahal, my car, a zoo .....".  "Had you been standing inside the cage, it would have been really worth looking", he seems to say. People grinning from ear to ear from each one of them wipe the smile out of his face.

The first time I got to know about his phobia was when after marriage, we were invited by my mother's friend to lunch.The conversation turned to my Uncle's days in Iran. Soon after lunch, Uncle appeared with two big albums of his Iran-stay. Hubby dear looked politely interested. He even asked a few questions. With the first album his enthusiasm waned a bit. He almost looked relieved when he finished the last leaf of the second album. My Uncle mistook his look of relieved happiness as album-genic. Being a kind soul, he wanted to extend it. He promptly fetched a whole heap of them. Now it was a real bomb-shell and my devastated-half looked exactly that! I vividly remember his shocked look of oh-what did-I-do-to-be-tortured-with-albums mixed with such pleading that it plucked my heart-strings. It was my Aunt who rescued him that day. My husband still remembers her in his prayers!

He doesn't find that understanding Aunt everywhere though . So he is developing his own defense-mechanisms these days. At the mention of an album, he fervently tries to steer the conversation to less photogenic pastures. If that doesn't work, he urgently heads towards the toilet, winking at me to finish off with the albums. Or suddenly he feigns interest in the garden and marches out. 

He has also started keeping a list of people who have, at some point of time, assaulted him with their albums. He has shifted all the albums from the attic to living room. As soon as a guest comes, he checks his list and decides on the dose. 'An album for an album, a photo for a photo', is his revenge-taking motto. What is beyond him is that some people have no qualms in looking at the photographs. He is satisfied to feel that he is avenged. And I do not want to ruin his sense of satisfaction! 


More by :  Anubhooti Kabra

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