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It was 2:00 a.m. Ritu took a sigh of relief and lay on her back. Her kids were finally asleep. Like every day, today too she felt heavy in her head. She had no time to think about anything running behind her little munchkins all day. She turned to her right and witnessed the slumber her husband, Hiten was in. He had gone off to bed at 10:00 p.m after watching his favourite movies the entire day and was now snoring away to glory.
She thought that one day she will break down. The cause of the heaviness came flashing across.
On one hand, she felt how blessed she has been. How she had changed all these years. From being the carefree college going girl to working in top companies. And then being a full-time mother to two beautiful children. On the other hand, she also thought about how her husband had not changed. Women always want a man who would not change after marriage. She smiled and said, ‘Unfortunately, I have one, literally’.
She had grown to be a mother but Hiten, unfortunately, was yet to be a father or rather yet to realize he is a father.
Every morning her kids would wake her up around 6:00 a.m for milk. That’s when Ritu’s day would start. They would sleep again for an hour. That’s the hour she had to utilize to get most of her work done. She would hurry to the toilet, freshen up, put up some tea on the stove for herself which she would usually forget to drink, make breakfast, run back to the room to check if her baby was okay and again run to the kitchen. All this had to be done in silence. For if her kids would wake up, it would be difficult doing everything with her kids in her arms.
Her kids would then cry their lungs out till she would not carry them. All this with Hiten still sleeping just beside them, unaffected.
Today when Ritu had barely finished her work, her kids woke up. Hiten too had woken up. He leisurely went to the toilet. Freshened up without any toddler banging the bathroom door crying for their daddy. Then he sat on the couch in front of the stupid box. With the high volume, he had shut himself off the toddler -mommy activities and interactions. He had his breakfast. Hours passed while Ritu was running behind the toddlers, making sure they do not fall, dealing with tantrums and their needs and also doing the laundry, dishes and lunch.
Hiten, on the contrary, would always be so engrossed in the stupid box that even if the toddler would fall n hurt himself in front of him and cry, he would not pick up him up and comfort him. Sometimes even if he did see the toddler getting hurt and crying, he would laugh and say, ‘you will learn from your mistakes’ and get back to what he was watching. Then Ritu would have to do the needful.
The only conversation Ritu would have with her Hiten would be about him telling her how grumpy and tired she has been and that she needs to be positive and happy and take some vitamin supplements. Little did he know that she just needed his helping hand. Even today he said the same thing to her while she was almost losing it while she served him his lunch while he still sat in front of the TV.
He slept off on the same couch thereafter. While she bathed her kids, played with them doing the fake party dance, fed them lunch, looked at the clock ticking, hoping to get some time to have her lunch.
Finally at 4:00 p.m her kids slept off and she now had to clean up the trash and put back all the scattered toys. She emptied out her husband’s plate too that he had left. Too tired to eat, yet, she gobbled down her food. Folded all the washed clothes. Washed the utensils.
Just when she sat down, her kids woke up all fresh and ready to play. She played with them making sure her husband does not wake up with the noise. However, he did. He grumbled and locked himself in the other room to complete his nap while the kids called out to him to play even though they knew he will not.
With all the playing and preparing dinner, it was 8:00 p.m already. Hiten had woken up at 7:00 p.m, had a bath and breezed out of the house without consulting her. He often did this, as he said he needed fresh air, being locked in the house throughout the day. Ritu fed the kids and put some nursery rhymes on her laptop for them to watch while she took a fast bath.
Hiten returned, had dinner watching his favourite movies again. He slept off at 10:00 while Ritu struggled with her kids trying to put them to sleep till 2:00 a.m. She had no time for dinner and it was now too late for her to eat.
As she lay on her bed with all these flashes across her mind, she thought that a frosty silence is better than burning more energy in explaining what is expected of a co-equal partner/caregiver.
From the time the kids were born, Hiten would always say that he can view their kids as fun when they are able to play and get involved in activities with him. The time had now come but the kids wanted Ritu always because she was more enthusiastically respondent in interactions with them. He would also happily say that the kids only wanted her. The relative lack of early contact with the kids were already having a circular effect. Little did he realise that the older his children were getting without a bond having been established, the more distant he and his kids were getting. The more awkward they feel together, the less they will want to engage with each other time and again.
When Hiten would meet his friends they would talk about sports, food, money, work. Children are what women talk about he always said.
He had postponed his fatherhood.
Yes. A frosty silence is better is what the mother thought.
Image is a still from the movie Taare Zameen Par
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