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While cleaning the dining table she realized she had not yet had her breakfast. She warmed the left over tea from the morning and had the leftover pieces of dosa.
“Mumma, tomorrow please make aloo parathas for my tiffin. And don’t forget to make tomato chutney too”, said ten year old Rinni to her mom, Neetal.
Neetal: “Okay beta”
“NEETAL!!!”, cried Yash, her husband, from the bedroom.
Neetal: “What happened Yash?”
Yash: “Tomorrow we have a potluck in office. Don’t forget to make the chicken. Cook it the same way you did last Sunday. It was delicious. My boss will be super happy.”
Neetal took a deep breath and said, “Okay”.
Yash: “Oh yeah. And masala dosa with chutney and sambar for breakfast. You will make no? Please!!”
Neetal: “Yeah. Of course I will. Rinni is in bed. You too go off to sleep. I will just wrap up with some work and come to bed.”
Yash and Rinni were off to bed, comfy and cosy. Neetal did the dishes in the kitchen. She sat at the dining table and had her dinner. She was too exhausted to finish what was on her plate.
She took the alarm clock and set the alarm for 5:00 am. Then she remembered that she had to boil the potatoes for the aloo paratha, knead the dough, make dosas, chutneys, sambar and chicken along with chopping onions, tomatoes and vegetables. She realized that waking up earlier would be feasible. So she set the alarm for 4:00.
By the time she staggered into bed, it was already 12:30 am. At 4:00 am the alarm went off and she dragged herself to the kitchen.
Her head ached and body felt weak. She made some tea and took few sips to propel herself into action. It was 4:30 and the clock was ticking. She got busy cooking.
At 7:00 am, Rinni and Yash woke up. One asked for the towel, the other asked for her books, one asked for his tie, the other asked for her pens and Neetal found herself juggling between the kitchen and her family.
There was a huge rush till 8:30 and the house suddenly felt calm once Yash left for the office and Rinni went to school.
Neetal sat for few minutes and started working again. She did her best to make her home a clean and pleasant place to live in. Having a clean house can reduce everybody’s stress and make things run much smoother, she thought. She prevented the constant search for the misplaced stuff and the annoying dirty-dish odour by staying on top of the household chores. It was a daily routine for her to get up early to make sure she got everyone’s lunches made, and everyone dressed and ready to go without all the stress and scrambling to find that missing pair of socks.
It was 11:00 am. She felt dizzy, so she skipped doing the laundry. Her maid had not turned up to do the cleaning. While cleaning the dining table she realized she had not yet had her breakfast. She warmed the left over tea from the morning and had the leftover pieces of dosa.
Rinni returned at 3:30 from school. She found her mom tired and sick. Rinni had her lunch and told her mom to rest. In the evening Yash came. Neetal did not feel any better but made the dinner. Yash and Rinni had their dinner. He noticed how feeble, pale and drained out his wife was looking. Yash: “Have your dinner first Neetal. Don’t go to the kitchen now”
Neetal: “No I don’t want to eat. I will just lie down for sometime.”
Yash: “No you have to eat. I will serve you.”
He took a plate and served some paneer on the plate. He opened the hot-case for the parathas but found it empty.
Yash: “The parathas are over!! Rinni if you wanted extra parathas you should have said so”.
Rinni: “Dad. I just ate two like always. This is Mummy’s old story. Have you not noticed it? She cooks for us but always makes less for herself because she gets tired.”
Yash: “You should help your mom. Every morning you look for your books. You should at least do your own work.”
Rinni: “And you look for your tie and don’t even take your towel when you go in for a bath. Mummy has to wake up so early everyday to make so many dishes. You never ask her about her meal.”
Yash realized his mistake too. He turned towards Neetal and said, “I understand you are overworked by us, but is okay to say no, and that you cannot do something. I was stupid not to see how tired you were. It would have been okay to say that you cannot make the chicken. It would have been okay to say that you cannot make the dosas. You know what I mean?”
Neetal smiled with tears in her eyes and said, “Yes, I understand. Healthy starts with me. My mental and physical health is as important as my family’s.”
Yash made some deformed rotis which Neetal happily ate with the paneer. He made sure Neetal slept while he did the dishes in the kitchen. The next morning Neetal woke up. It was 6:00 and she was late. Beside the alarm clock, there was a note from Yash which read – “Healthy starts with me, remember? When I am sick, I take leave. So today you are on Sick Leave. Get back to bed and snuggle into your blanket.”
Quietly, she lay down again and felt peaceful watching Yash sleeping beside her. Finally, she had the chance to use her sick leave entitlement.
First published here.
Image source: YouTube
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