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For dinner, she and Akash cooked or made something light together, or ordered food from outside. With having Maa around, she had to now cook up the full meal spread just like an ideal bahu.
Meera was having her sandwich. Her mother-in-law sitting right across the dining table asked her, “Why are you not making rotis? Why is Akash making them?”
“So what, Maa? It’s OK. It’s his turn tonight”, Meera said, and continued devouring the sandwich that she made for herself.
Maa gave Meera a look that was full of judgement for her and pity for her son. Poor beta was cooking roti for his Maa, after all, while her bahu was eating a sandwich. How could she?
Akash’s mother had come to visit them for a few days. Because of poor health Maa wasn’t able to walk much. However, she still kept saying to Akash that he should leave the the kitchen and she would make the rotis.
Meera was listening to everything, but continued eating her sandwich and watching her favourite sitcom. Sundays were Meera’s off days from the kitchen. She did other things at home, except for cooking. She worked from home; hence she cooked every day from Monday to Saturday.
Everything was going fine until today. Meera was fuming with anger. She finished her sandwich, got up from the dining table and went into the kitchen. She pushed Akash away and started making rotis. She understood that Maa wanted her to make rotis and was indirectly asking her to do it.
She was furious and frustrated at the same time, because Akash didn’t utter a single word. Not a word! She hoped that he would at least calm his Maa down and explain to her that Sunday was the only day when he cooked, and that Meera cooked the rest of the week.
After the dinner was over, Meera went inside the bedroom where Akash was working on his laptop.
“Double standards! Double standards! You are nothing but full of double standards, Akash!” Meera was agitated but couldn’t raise her voice because of Maa. Again, nothing from Akash. He kept staring the laptop.
“You said nothing to Maa about us taking turns for cooking meals. I also work. So what if it’s from home? I also need downtime. I also need a break. You at least go out of home, Akash. I don’t step out of the house all week. I need a break for just one day. And the least I expected from you was to speak up! You are such a coward!”
Akash just listened and said nothing. Meera stood there fuming. She wanted to scream and howl. She was feeling duped and betrayed. The one man she loved with all her heart, didn’t take a stand for her. She was having a tough time accepting the fact that the one person from she expected a little support didn’t stand up for her. She was shattered. Going into the bathroom, she splashed water on her face. She was trying to calm herself down. Still in shock of Akash’s behaviour, she went into the other room and slept.
Next morning, she couldn’t even look at Akash. She gave him a cold shoulder. She wasn’t listening to him or talking to him. She was still angry with his indifferent behaviour the night before. Akash was behaving normally as if nothing had happened.
“How could you Akash? How could you pretend to be normal and assume that I slept over the matter?” the thought was crushing Meera’s brain.
She decided to stay mum and carried on with her day. With her usual work schedule, she cooked and served Maa breakfast and lunch with a fake smile on her face. Even though she couldn’t bear Maa’s presence, she was pretending to be normal.
Came evening and she decided to talk to Akash. She couldn’t bear it anymore. The constant anger and frustration were driving her crazy!
After the dinner was over, Akash walked up to Meera. She was working late at night to catch up on the work she couldn’t do during the day. She hardly ever cooked lunch for herself and mostly ate cereal or a light sandwich. For dinner, she and Akash cooked or made something light together, or ordered food from outside. With having Maa around, she had to now cook up the full meal spread just like an ideal bahu.
“Meera can I talk to you about something important?” asked Akash.
“First get a spine, Akash and then come and talk to me!” Meera lashed out.
“I have a spine. Even though I wasn’t making rotis, I was standing with you. That’s my spine!” Akash retorted.
“Yeah, right!” Meera snapped. “All you had to do was tell Maa that you cook just one meal in the whole week. I cook everyday, nobody complains then! You know that evening you proved that I am forcing you to do it. You proved I am the b**** that tortures her husband. You belittled me. It’s not about my ego, but about my self-respect,” said Meera agitatedly still keeping her volume low.
Akash sat beside Meera. He didn’t want to sleep over the matter. He looked at Meera and said, “Look, Meera, I know I have done the damage and there’s nothing I can do now. But you were right. I should have explained to Maa. We have a way of managing home and work, and we are pretty good at it. I’ll bring this topic up tomorrow or if Maa says something. Now, please don’t be angry.” Meera didn’t respond. She shut down her laptop, turned off the lights and slept.
Next morning Meera woke up with sounds of utensils from the kitchen. She walks up to check and saw Akash cooking breakfast.
“What are you doing?” asked Meera.
“Nothing much. I am making cucumber sandwiches for breakfast. Is that okay?” says Akash.
“Akash, please just step back. I’ll do it. You’ll be late for work. I know I overreacted last night. I just expect you to be on my side, which doesn’t mean that you’ll overlook Maa. But at least when needed. Thank you for helping me out,” Meera looked at Akash and said.
Akash turned to Meera, gave her a peck on her cheek and called out, “Maa, come for breakfast. I have made some sandwiches and tea for you. In the next few days just think and let me know what exotic dish you would like me to prepare on Sunday. You’ll be surprised by my cooking.”
Meera smiled and started laying the dining table for breakfast.
Image source: a still from the movie Ki and Ka
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Surbhi is a graduate in English Literature and a postgraduate in Mass Comm. She is
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