Morning Tea is an occasion where people come together, share ideas, stories, anecdotes over a cup of tea and a plate of delectable delicacies and pastries. At my workplace, we all look forward to the pay week Friday for our morning tea, an occasion when sometimes important announcements are made or information is imparted. As I was lining up with a paper plate and serviette in hand to choose the items that appealed to my appetite and tastebuds, a staff who belonged to the faculty whose turn it was to organise the tea remarked to a willing listener, laughing boisterously, “I took my husband off work to get things for the morning tea,” and the rest of the conversation was drowned in the chatter of a group of teachers who had just joined the line. Instantaneously, I preferred to thank her husband in my mind and not her for the hot food.
As I masticated the food items stacked on my plate one after the other, I could not dispel the statement made by my female colleague from my mind and each time I speculated about it a new connotation presented itself ranging from power dynamics in the man-woman relationship to outwardly show of happiness. I tried to decipher the possible intentions of the speaker and arrived at a few obvious ones. The speaker’s intention might have been to communicate to her audience the power she wielded over her man; or that she was influential enough to persuade him to leave his job in order to carry out her behest; or that he was a caring and understanding person who placed her needs above everything else or that we should feel grateful and express our gratitude to him for his act of generosity so that he could bask in the glory of his partner’s adulations and his colleagues’ attention.
Reflections of this nature coerced me to embark on a new course of thought that was entirely based on my observations. At social gatherings, I have noticed the growing tendency of couples to project the “ideal couple” image to members of the family and community. Outward demonstration of happiness to society is beginning to gain an increased significance whether or not real happiness exists between a couple. The couples do everything in their capacity to do justice to the expression ‘head over heels in love’ and to be ‘picture perfect’ so much so that it is becoming a much desired social hypocrisy. However, the artificiality in this public display of affection makes me wonder if I have misunderstood the understanding that exists between them.