Some days are just plain happy. No reason. The world takes out its most charming clothes and waltzes around prettily, while you watch with that half-smile of lazy contentment. Yesterday was that day and it was chugging along beautifully till my partner walked into the room and said, ‘Cheekuu, we need to talk.’


The words fell like a horrid clang on the floor and my beautiful day dived out of the window in fear. Predictably, the talk was about something unpalatable. Over the next two hours, I realised our versions of what comprised a reasonable budget were extremely different. Slowly, swimming through many words, some piercingly hurtful, we found a middle ground.


When someone says, ‘We need to talk’, why is it never about anything wonderful? Why does it inevitably have to be about some joy-crumbling, soul-stifling horrid bit of reality? These words are always followed by grim news: We need to talk, I have cancer, third stage. We need to talk, we’re cutting workforce by 10% and we have to let you go. We need to talk, darling, this isn’t working, it’s better for both of us if I go.


Never in my life have I heard this version of those words: We need to talk, you have just won a hundred thousand dollars and a Maserati. We need to talk, you are going to become a mother of twins. We need to talk, I have booked us on an ultra-luxurious Mediterranean cruise.


A friend of mine claims that his wife gets a particular look in her eye before she utters those words. He says when he sees her eyes narrowing in that particular way, he invents the fastest excuse he can come up with and scoots from home. I ask him whether that works. He shakes his head ruefully. No matter what time he returns, the look is still there and has only gotten stronger.


Also read: For a cold winter, with love

In fact, almost all the couples I spoke to confessed they hated those four words. Men and women, old and young, straight and gay, loathed the feeling they got when this phrase was spoken. Yet, we all seem to use it. Is it because there are no other substitutes? Is this the only way we can convey to our loved ones that we have something of undeniable gravity to say?


I don’t know. Maybe we need to talk.



Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on Asianet Newsable. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.