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It took this daughter-in-law a decade to find her place in the sun, and some peace. A short story that will leave you with a bittersweet feeling.
She is walking briskly across the road. Damn, she is running late for office again. She stays just ten walking minutes away from the office, and still manages to be late. No matter how far or near we stay from the office, she thinks, we always find ways to be late.
It is a beautiful morning, bright and sunny. But the Delhi pollution and traffic is already spoiling it. How she longs for her hometown. It has been a decade since she has been staying in this metropolitan city, but never really felt at home.
She being the youngest in the family, was the most pampered child. Her two older brothers and sister doted on her. Theirs was a joint family, so there was no dearth of hustle and bustle, and always, the noise of laughter in the house. It was a big house, with a big courtyard and a big garden, replete with fruits and flowers.
She had just joined her first job when Sameer’s match was proposed for her. The eldest in his family, Sameer was an MBA in finance and worked in a private bank. His father was also a bank official who was due to retire in a few years’ time. His mother was a housewife, and both his sisters were married but working women.
His family was based in Delhi. And they had no problems with her choosing to work like their daughters. It seemed like a good match. But Delhi, it was so far away from her small hometown, almost three hundred kilometres away. How would she survive? The only consolation was that her elder sister, who was married, stayed in Delhi too.
Within four months of the proposal, she was engaged. After eight months, married. She was shocked when she arrived at her husband’s place in Delhi. It was so small! It was in a cramped building, in a colony of cramped buildings. It is called a flat, she was told. It had just two rooms, a kitchen and a hall. It had to be a mistake. Didn’t her father have a good look when he came to check out Sameer’s place?
Once she settled down in her new home, after the endless visits to and from relatives, she started looking for jobs. But within three months, she was pregnant and her career went for a toss. As per tradition, she gave birth to her first child in her maternal home. Ayush, her son, gave a new direction to her life, a new meaning, with the joy of motherhood. And staying at her maternal home, among her near and dear ones, doubled her joy. Soon, Aayush was four months old and Sameer and his family wanted the little bundle of joy in their home.
When Ayush turned one year old, she broached the subject of getting a job. Now that Ayush was older, she could start working again and Sameer’s mother, Mummyji, could take care of him during the day. But Mummyji would hear none of it. She argued that Ayush needed his mother full-time. When she tried to point out that Sameer’s sisters were working as well and had kids, Mummyji simply said that theirs was a different situation. She responded with tears but said nothing. In her heart and mind she understood that the only difference was that she was not Mummyji‘s daughter. Sameer too didn’t say anything to support her case.
Slowly the days turned into months, and the months into years. She managed to meet her sister who stayed in the city once in a while. If she wanted to meet her sister regularly, it was frowned upon by Mummyji. She never got to spend the night at her sister’s. Her sister understood; after-all she was a daughter-in-law too. Thankfully, festivals gave her excuses to visit her parents for a few days.
A few years more, and Ayush started going to school. By then, it had become impossible to spend the entire day with Mummyji alone in the house. She had started answering back during their occasional tiffs. Even patience has its limits, she said. Little by little, she was able to persuade Sameer that for the sake of peace in the house, she should start working again. Besides, his father had retired and they could keep each other company. Reluctantly, Mummyji agreed but with a warning that Ayush’s studies and development should not suffer because of her job.
Oh! How sweet that triumph had felt. It has been three years now that she had restarted her career. Well, she was a decade behind her friends and had to start from scratch again. But better late than never, isn’t it! She had been lucky to be working so close to home. But she never goes home for lunch. The family would start thinking that her job is an easy one.
She is juggling work and home quite nicely. Mummyji and Papaji are also supporting her in their own ways. But Mummyji doesn’t miss any chance to rebuke her regarding her working status. A few marks less scored by Ayush than in the previous test is enough to set off Mummyji‘s bullets in her direction. Similar is the scene in case of a little less than perfect parantha for breakfast.
But she is happy. She is enjoying her work and learning fast. With time she has become an indispensable member of her team. Her performance is being applauded as well as rewarded. She has become a confident independent woman. She is now able to fulfill her material needs without being dependent on Sameer. She is able to take care of her parents’ needs in small ways too.
She is no longer a naive young daughter-in-law. She is surprised to hear stories from her married women colleagues, far worse than Mummyji‘s case. Well, there are some positive stories too. They all have a laugh together, as well as help each other in tricky situations.
But she has finally accepted Mummyji, with all her shortcomings. And Mummyji has opened up her heart to her too, it seems. She now looks out for the small acts of kindness Mummyji does for her. It is Mummyji‘s birthday today. She had gifted her a beautiful orange silk saree, Mummyji‘s favourite colour. In the morning, she took Mummyji to the temple and so she was running late. But the joy on Mummyji‘s face was worth being late today.
It is definitely a big win for a small loss.
woman set free image via Shutterstock
Bibliophile. Book Reviewer. Woman of Letters. Plant Person. Romanticist.
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