Of larks and owls

Of larks and owls

If I had a chance to relive my life, I definitely would marry my husband all over again. However, I would bring up the topic of sleeping habits before I finally decide to tie the knot. You see, I have found out, much to my consternation, that I am a lark and he is an owl.

An owl, apart from being noted for its solemnity and wisdom, is a creature of nocturnal habits and the lark, an early riser, as denoted in the phrase “up with the larks”. And that, precisely, describes the two of us.

I can wake, blithely and completely, at 5 am wherever I am when the first ethereal fingers of dawn appear. I have heard the first twittering of birds, the first cocks crow; I go for a walk and watch the stars fade away into a translucent sky. I see a Bengaluru that very few see.

There is a biological clock within me which, come rain or shine, workday or holiday, east or west, strikes on the hour at 5 and has me springing out of bed ready to embrace the world with an intensity and speed which often disgusts my family. Then, I slow down at about mid-day, I become more and more sluggish, my eyelids droop and it is all I can do to stay awake to hear the 8 o’clock news.

As you can guess, the sight of me, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed early in the morning and somnolent in the evening is anathema to the rest of my family members, who are all owls.

My husband crawls out of bed at 8 in the morning and has to be lured into the day with a cup of coffee, the newspaper and a lot of TLC. Even Shakespeare’s schoolboy “creeping like snail unwilling to school had nothing on him.”

However, as the day goes on, he wakes up, becoming progressively brighter till he is at the peak of his personality at midnight. No bridge move is too complicated for him to solve at that time, no dance floor too active for his gyrations, and no joke too boisterous to be told. Whereas I barely hang on, bags under my eyes, everything in a slow motion blur, barely distinguishable, barely alive in that twilight zone.

I often wonder how many couples have compromised, for in those early days both of us felt that compromise was not a bad word. However, after a few years of togetherness, it became a bit too much even for love and happiness to tolerate. He just could not understand the lunacy of someone wanting to sleep the night away while there was so much still to be done. I retorted that the Good Lord would not have created Night and Day if he didn’t want me to sleep.

We compromised. I lay quietly if I woke too early, daydreaming or reading a book while sometimes he would sleep in the guest room. Then I would have to face my Chinese housekeeper’s knowing leer: “Mister no sleep with you lass night ah?”

When I saw the questionnaire my daughter had to fill in to choose a roommate for college I was astonished:

When do you wake up? a) Between 4 and 6; b) Between 6 and 8; etc

Do you sleep with lights a) on b) off c) dim...

...And so on. Now I understand the practicality of it all.


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