The ghar-ki-bahu had stepped out of her bounds and had brought damnation…What followed was a drama worthy of being plagiarized in some saas-bahu serial.
It was sometime in 2008 November. Shalini had dreams in her eyes and a spring in her steps. Fed on sleazy Bollywood-y imagery, she had grown up with a set image in her head.
Her husband would work, she would tend to the house, she would be friends with her in-laws and they would sing happy family songs daily. She had to figure out everything when she got married.
She fell back on her favorite Bollywood films for forming her reactions to the new household’s challenges. But, no film had prepared her for the kind of concerns that would be thrown at her.
It all started at a wedding reception.
Shalini got invited to her best friend’s brother’s wedding reception. As is the case, when Shalini was deeply engrossed in discussing the love lives of her friends with her gang, giggling at the lame jokes some guy cracked, and generally having a gala time, she got a call. It was Satish, her husband of two weeks.
The conversation was short and clipped. Shalini had been given ‘permission’ only for two hours, her in-laws having graciously included the travel time and time for meet-and-greet-and-eat. She was expected back at 8:00 p.m. Allowance had been given till 8:30 p.m. It was now 10:00 p.m.
Shalini was nowhere close to leaving the party. Her friends and the newlyweds had pulled her into another party and she had no intention of leaving all this fun to go prepare dinner for two septuagenarians.
Satish’s scowl was tangible, and traversed over the phone into Shalini’s mind, causing a mild panic attack. Plastering an equally bad scowl, she bid a hasty goodbye to her friends and made her way into the crowded Poonamallee road.
By the time she reached her area, it was 11:30 p.m. Way past curfew hours. An hour for the slutty women to step out. The ghar-ki-bahu had stepped out of her bounds and had brought damnation. When she pulled into the driveway, she could not have imagined the scene awaiting her.
A scowling Satish was accompanied by his livid father, mother, Shalini’s worried parents, and two burly policemen with a patrol car parked in their short driveway. As soon as she drove in, she was bombarded with questions and accusations.
How had she been brought up (aimed at her parents)? How could she drown their honor like this? Had she slept with someone? Did she have a boyfriend? Hearing the commotion, the neighbors started peeping out, some sleepy, some excited to see the unfolding drama. Most interested in the proceedings was the security guy.
Shalini kept her head and led the pack inside after thanking the policemen and ensuring them that she had just gone for a wedding and had not eloped. What followed was a drama worthy of being plagiarized in some saas-bahu serial.
As soon as the door closed, a resounding slap landed on Shalini’s cheek, bringing a yelp from her parents and a loud exclamation from her mother-in-law. How have you brought your daughter up? We haven’t had dinner yet and she walks in coolly at 12:00 p.m. When are we supposed to eat? My poor son hasn’t eaten since afternoon, your daughter is useless and poorly brought up.
Shalini turned around and asked Satish, “You are a grown man, what stopped you from ordering food or preparing a meal for all of you? Also, if you didn’t want your mother to cook, why didn’t you appoint a cook? Do you think I am a unpaid cook?”
The group had a few heated exchanges following this reality check. Satish went inside his room and banged the door. So, did the father-in-law. This was unheard of. Such impunity. Poorly brought up girl! The mother-in-law went into the kitchen and started making dosas, loudly muttering about her ill-luck.
Shalini’s dad did the next best thing. He calmly asked Shalini to pack her things. We are leaving, he said.
Tears streaming down her face, Shalini went away to her parents’ place. A couple of days went by. No phone calls, no communication from the in-laws or the husband. Shalini kept staring at her phone. The romantic and sweet husband had suddenly turned into a monster.
On day four, Shalini’s phone came alive. Satish! Wondering whether she should forgive him for his blunder, she picked up the call. She had figured out her speech. All the exact words.
As soon as she said hello, he started.
Mother is not well. The maid has also not come for the past three days. I am coming to pick you. Be ready.
Shalini’s dreams crashed around her. She kept the receiver down, called out to her father and asked, ‘Dad, do you know any good divorce lawyer?’
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