Mummy I’m So Sorry I Betrayed You Then!

“No, Pinky. Anaisha is young and impressionable. You don’t want her to overhear and repeat snippets to Rakesh. Don’t drag children into relationship problems.”

“Ma! I’m at my wit’s end. She keeps complaining all the time. The food has too much salt or too much oil! Can she ever be satisfied?”

Mummy was on a call with Nani and sounded agitated. Eight-year-old Pinky strained her ears. There was only one person who got Mummy this worked up. That was Dadi, who lived with them and taunted her most of the time.

“Nine years of marriage, and my mother-in-law refuses to change. What is her problem? Can she appreciate me for a change? Just once? And my husband! He refuses to defend me. If only he said one word, she would stop,” Mummy continued complaining on the phone.

When she saw that Pinky was listening, she stopped abruptly.

“Baby, it’s Nani on the phone. Do you want to speak to her?”

Pinky nodded while Mummy wondered how much her daughter had heard.

“Baby, please don’t repeat what you heard, OK? You know Dadi will make a big fuss if she gets to know!”

Two weeks passed by, and both forgot about this incident.

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***

It was late evening. While Pinky did her homework in the living room, Mummy cut vegetables, and Daddy was buried in a newspaper. Mummy walked over and checked Pinky’s homework.

“Pinky, this sum is wrong. You are very careless!”

Pinky pouted.

“Vasudha! Don’t scold my baby. It’s OK!” Papa chided.

“You spoil her!”

“She is my darling princess. Why wouldn’t I?”

Pinky was overcome with emotion. She ran up to her father and in a sudden surge of affection, felt the ardent need to blurt something out.

“Daddy, the other day, I heard Mummy say bad things about you and Dadi to Nani.”

A word said carelessly. A sentence blurted innocently. The impact? Devastating.

Pinky was promptly sent to her room, from where she could hear her parents argue.

She had only told the truth. Had she been wrong?

Later that night, Pinky greeted Mummy, whose eyes were red and swollen with tears.

“Are you OK?” she asked anxiously.

“Child, you betrayed me. One day you will understand my plight!”

“I was only doing the right thing!” Pinky ran to her room and slammed the door, furious that she was being held responsible.

It was Mummy’s fault!

Pinky noticed that the dynamics between her parents seemed to have shifted; they argued more frequently. When Mummy had to speak on the phone, she would go into the bathroom and turn the tap on to muffle the sound. Pinky didn’t understand why.

A few years later, Dadi passed away, and things were more peaceful in the household. Over time, her parents seemed to have reconciled as well.

Twenty-two Years Later

“Mummy!”

Pinky sobbed into the phone. At thirty, she was not known to be an emotional person. However, her mother was one of the few people privy to her vulnerabilities.

“Pinky, are you OK?”

“I’m not OK. Don’t even get me started on how irritating Rakesh is at times!”

“Pinky, stop! Is Anaisha around?”

“Mummy, I’m upset, and you are worried about your granddaughter!”

“No, Pinky. Anaisha is young and impressionable. You don’t want her to overhear and repeat snippets to Rakesh. Don’t drag children into relationship problems.”

Pinky fell silent, a sense of déjà vu gripping her.

Had she not done the same thing in her childhood and driven a wedge between her parents?

“Mummy, I’ll come over this Saturday along with Anaisha. Rakesh has to go to work, so it will be the two of us. It’s been a while.”

Mummy said she would be delighted to have them over and hung up.

Pinky felt disturbed. The memory that she had suppressed had not only rebounded but was also accompanied by a certainty; an affirmation that she had been wrong.

Only when one treads a path for themselves, do they finally understand which direction is right, and which isn\’t.

It had taken twenty-two years, a marriage, and the realization that relationships are not perfect for Pinky to acknowledge two truths; Daddy hadn’t always been right, and she owed an apology to Mummy.

***

Mummy fussed over Anaisha and gave her slices of home-baked cake.

“Mummy, you spoil her rotten!” Pinky exclaimed.

“Anaisha, do you want to try the new swing in the backyard? Your Nanaji put it up for you.”

While the little girl swung happily, the two women sat, sipping tea on the verandah. Pinky had to get her confession off her chest.

“Mummy, I’m sorry for backstabbing you all those years ago. When you mentioned Anaisha, that’s when it struck me. She could run to her daddy and tattle on me like a parrot. Just like how I did.”

“Darling, it’s alright.”

“I didn’t realize that I was pushing you under the bus. If Anaisha ever did that to me, I would never forgive her.”

“Yes, you would. A mother can never be angry with her child for long, can she?”

Pinky knew in her heart of hearts that it was true.

Mummy continued. “Child. It was my fault too. Adults should never try to pass on their burdens to young ones. If anything, I should have had an open conversation with Daddy, something I attempted only years later.”

Pinky fell silent.

“Is everything OK between you and Rakesh?” Mummy inquired.

“Yeah. We have our ups and downs, but we sort them out. Sometimes, I just need someone to vent to. Someone who isn’t judgmental, and is willing listen.”

“I will be there for you no matter what.”

“I’m bored! Play with me,” Anaisha cried, running towards them and interrupting their conversation. She dragged her grandmother towards the swing.

Pinky watched them fondly; her mother and her child.  Mummy, her confidante, the keeper of her secrets. Her child, the one who confided in her, the one who believed that her mother had all the answers.

Three generations bound by a single thread. Of shared feelings and secrets, of words said and even those unsaid.

“Mummy, I love you!” Pinky said quietly.

A word said with feeling. A sentence said right. The impact? Everlasting.

***

Inspired by a true story. Names have been changed.

Image source: a still from short film Methi ke Laddoo

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About the Author

Lalitha Ramanathan

Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...

54 Posts | 75,513 Views

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