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“Manu, tell me one thing! Why is your mother-in-law in all the pictures, do you take her everywhere with you?” Manu didn’t say anything but just nodded her head.
Translated from the original in Hindi by Sandhya Renukamba.
Hearing the sound of her phone, Manu went from the kitchen to her room. Smiling as she saw Avi’s name and face on the screen, she quickly picked it up before it got disconnected.
“Hello! What have you been doing?” Avi’s voice was enough to bring a big smile on Manu’s face.
“Nothing – was just making tea for myself and Mummiji,” Manu said.
“Ok! Accha listen, be ready in the evening; let’s go out somewhere. We’ll eat out, so keep something ready for mummy and papa at home.”
Manu felt happy but also conflicted. It had been a mere six months for their marriage, ‘Mummyji’ would just not leave them alone. She would insist on going with them everywhere.
As a newlywed, Manu often wanted to watch a movie with her husband, roam around arm in arm, eat ice cream from the same cone. All these wishes would just remain unexpressed – being so new to the family, Manu was hesitant to voice anything either to her husband Avi or her mother-in-law.
Avi also felt the same hesitation, and the same thing happened today when Manu’s mother-in-law came to know of their plan. She was also ready at the time they were going to leave and asked Manu to make some daily(?) for her father-in-law, and the newlyweds were left speechless.
One day Papaji informed them that his aunt was going to visit – Bua Dadi, Avi’s grand-aunt – who could not come for the wedding due to ill health, and now wanted to come to meet Manu and bless her.
Ever since her mother-in-law came to know of the impending visit, she had been very upset. Concerned, Manu asked Avi what the matter was, and when she heard what he had to say, couldn’t stop smiling, and eagerly awaited her.
On the day Bua Dadi was supposed to come, Manu decorated her room very well. She cooked that day after checking with her father-in-law what she liked to eat, as her mother-in-law wasn’t telling her anything.
Avi went to pick up their guest at the railway station, and here Manu dressed up well in a beautiful orange chiffon sari with a red border, mogra flowers in her long, braided hair, with a big dot of vermillion on her forehead.
When Dadi saw such a beautiful Bahu, she was charmed. When Manu bent down to touch her feet, she gave her a hug. Manu glanced at Avi, who was silently admiring his wife. He spoke through his eyes and Manu blushed!
Manu served her grand Sasu-Maa with a lot of affection; her care won over the old lady. After she had been there for a week, on a Sunday, when everyone was sitting together after lunch, she did not see Manu, so she went looking for her to her room.
“What are you doing, Manu?” Manu sat up at her voice.
“Nothing Daadiji, just looking at our wedding photos on the phone.”
“Well, show me where you had been, where did you both go?”
While looking at the pictures Dadi felt it was a bit strange that Manu’s mother-in-law 7 her Bahu Rekha was also seen in every picture.
“Manu, tell me one thing! Why is your Sasu-Ma in all the pictures? Do you take her everywhere with you?” Manu didn’t say anything but just nodded her head.
Bua Dadi thought about it, and went outside. “Beta Avi! Today is Sunday! Why are you sitting at home doing nothing? Yours is a new marriage. Go out with your wife, enjoy yourself, and don’t you dare return before 10 at night at least!”
This is just what Avi and Manu wanted; they got ready to go immediately. While they changed, Rekha was restless; now she could not go with them because of the fear of her Saas. Bua Dadi immediately understood exactly what was going on from her expression.
Seeing Manu getting ready, Rekha said, “Manu, make dinner for us and go, it’s too hot for me to go in the kitchen.”
Manu dearly longed to be able to give her some answers, but Bua Dadi’s voice came up right then, “Are you unable to make a couple of rotis, Rekha? Or are you finding it too much trouble to make that extra food for me? Come on, let’s go to the kitchen. I’d like to have some ginger tea, with some nice pakoras. Let the bacchas go out.”
Fearing her Sasu-Maa, Rekha walked into the kitchen. Heartily thanking Dadiji in her mind, Manu left with Avi, breathing freely after a long time.
After Manu and Avi left, Bua Dadi made Rekha sit down, and explained to her affectionately, “Rekha, Avi is now not just your son but also Manu’s new husband. They also have some dreams of their new marriage, and it is not right to interfere between them. Today they are quiet, and careful of how they talk to you, but are you going to wait for them to answer back tomorrow if you continue stifling them? You have found a very sweet and loving Bahu, Rekha. Don’t become a pain to her. Your honour is in your hands, but you’re wise enough to understand this.”
Saying this, Bua Dadi went to her room, leaving Rekha to mull over what she had said. The more she thought of it, the more she realised how obnoxious she must have felt to her new Bahu, and thanked her stars for the wisdom of her Sasu-Maa
Image source: a still from Sabhyata via Youtube (for representational purpose only)
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