Marías at Sampaguitas
Prose by Megha Nayar
Updated: Mar 6, 2021
Experiments from the private journal of a disgruntled woman
Objective: To examine whether being in proximity of a menstruating woman can indeed make a plant wilt.
Apparatus & Materials: A menstruating woman, two plants, a chair.
Step 1: Take two virginal plants. Take pre-experiment shots of their stalks, stems and leaves. Have the plants sign a No Objection Certificate before embarking on this exercise.
Step 2: Arrange the chair between the plants.
Step 3: Ask the menstruating woman to sit on the chair. Verify that she is not a banshee.
Step 4: Ask said woman to act normal. She doesn’t have to treat the plants any special – no need to pee on them or even make menacing eyes. She just needs to stay put and let biology do its thing.
Step 5: Three hours later, remove the woman from the situation.
Step 6: Examine the plants closely for deterioration. Take post-experiment shots of their stalks, stems and leaves. Compare. What do you observe?
Observations: The woman appears livid at having spent three hours trying to make a point that wasn’t. She is terribly bored. She has a backache and stomach cramps. No apparent damage has been inflicted on the plants by her presence though.
Conclusion: Menstruating women do not harm any plants. On an unrelated note, certain plants may actually help women deal with menstruation better.
Objective: To evaluate, critically, the widely-held belief that giving young girls mobile phones “spoils” them.
Apparatus & Materials: A hundred young girls of all kinds – tall or short, fair or tan, pretty or pretty. Also, a mobile phone for each girl, and a horticulturist or agriculture scientist.
Step 1: Identify the girls that are to participate in this operation. Check that they’re unspoiled to begin with.
Step 2: Give each girl a mobile phone to use for three months. Allow them to use their phones freely.
Step 3: At the end of three months, ask the horticulturist to step in and examine each of the girls for signs of spoilage. Have they become over-ripe? Has their complexion darkened by a few shades? Does their skin feel pulpy or gooey? Are they smelling fetid?
Observations: The expert says that the young women exhibit no external symptoms of having “spoiled”. On the contrary, they appear to have grown smarter. They have opinions now. Also, they’ve picked up words like “patriarchy” and “misogyny”, so there is soon to be widespread outrage and a well-deserved petition against this offensive experiment.
Conclusion: Girls are not mangoes and mobile phones are not the atmosphere. The latter cannot “spoil” the former, much the same way a fish cannot die of a road accident.
Objective: To assess if a woman’s refusal to fast for her husband has the effect of shortening his life span.
Apparatus & Materials: Two women – one well-behaved and one feminist, their respective husbands, husbands’ horoscopes, an unbiased astrologer.
Step 1: Request Woman 1 (well-behaved) to keep a fast for her husband’s long life. Wait for her to agree.
Step 2: Request Woman 2 (the feminist) to do the same thing. Wait for her to refuse.
Step 3: On the auspicious day of Roobaakaadoobaa, monitor Woman 1 as she spends fourteen hours on an empty stomach. She must not eat or drink anything after sunrise, not even water. She can finally break her fast at dusk, with the blessings of her dear husband who must feed her the first morsel.
Step 4: Invite both couples for a fortune-telling session with the astrologer.
Step 5: Share the husbands’ horoscopes with the astrologer for investigation. In the light of their wives’ love for them, how long are they likely to live?
Observations: After a meticulous consultation with the planets and stars, the astrologer declares that Husband 1 will live to be 57 years old; his early death caused by choking on a piece of chewing gum. On the other hand, Husband 2 will attain the age of – wait for this – 79 years. Despite his feminist wife, you ask. Yes, the astrologer replies. In fact, the happy couple will be playing cards and drinking tonic when he is called away.
Conclusion: Keeping a woman hungry may not guarantee her husband a long life. Having fun together, though, might make him hang around longer.
Objective: To review the popular notion that marriage automatically makes unbearable shrews out of women.
Apparatus & Materials: A married couple, a pen and a notepad.
Step 1: Sit the married couple down. Check that both are in sound mental health.
Step 2: Give them a pen and a notepad. Ask them to enlist the essential chores they must perform in order to keep a functional home.
Step 3: Ask them to divide the chores among themselves equitably.
Step 4: Check with them at the end of each day, to verify if said chores have been accomplished.
Step 5: If the man has skimped on his tasks for Monday, check with him on Tuesday.
Step 6: If needed, check again on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Step 6: If the tasks remain undone on Saturday morning, give the man a final warning.
Step 7: Have a meeting with the couple on Sunday evening.
Observations: The man has attempted to tackle the dirty laundry. He has also performed his grocery run and fed the dog. It is nothing but incidental that he forgot to connect the water supply, so the laundry is sitting as-is in the washing machine, still waiting to be washed. As for the groceries, the wife must invent a meal that combines potato, oranges and cucumbers, seeing as he has picked up two kilos of each where none were needed. But first, she must tend to the dog because poor little Yoda has been fed grapes, and he is now throwing up abstract art all over the carpet.
Conclusion: No woman becomes a shrew of her own volition. The process is usually catalysed by the ineptitude of The One.
Megha Nayar (she/her) was longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2020 and the New Asian Writing Short Story Prize 2020. She teaches English and French for a living, and writes to remain sane. Her work has appeared in Trampset, Variety Pack, Versification, Burnt Breakfast, Brown Sugar, Potato Soup Journal, Postscript Mag and The Daily Drunk Mag, among others. She tweets at @meghasnatter.