#CelebrateingtheRainbow at the workplace – share your stories of Pride!
She knew that she would meet her parents soon. But the fact that she couldn't meet them when she wanted to kill her from within.
Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash
Shikha glanced at her watch and got into the car.
‘There are a few hours left before Rohit returned from work. I’ll visit Maa and then go home,’ a smile flashed on her lips even before the thought echoed with finality in her mind.
Leaning against the seat, she closed her eyes and let the fatigue escape her body. Any creases on her face would leave her parents worried. Her father had recently survived a heart attack and was advised bed rest. Her mother juggled between the chores and caring for her father, ignoring her creaking joints all the while. Her visit would give them a respite from their dreary routine. She wouldn’t be able to spend the entire day with them. It was one of the side effects of being a married woman. But even an hour in her haven would fill her heart with warmth. She felt tiny drops leave her eyes and land on her cheeks. Immediately, she wiped them lest they caught the attention of the driver.
The car was about to take the desired U-turn when her phone rang. The name displayed on the screen gave her jitters. Not that she didn’t like her. But an untimely call indicated urgency.
“Where are you, Shikha?” her mother-in-law’s tone was calm.
Shikha let out a deep sigh and answered, “I’m in the cab, Maa. I’m planning to meet my parents. I’ll reach home by evening.”
A stark silence on the other end of the phone made Shikha’s throat go dry. She pictured an obstacle in her mind’s eye and was devising a method to overcome it when her mother-in-law suggested, “Why don’t you come home first? You can visit your parents later.”
Those words hit her nerves and she felt like shrieking. But words failed to break free of the vocal cord and she sat in silence.
“Are your there?” her mother-in-law’s voice jostled her to reality.
“Rohit is at the office. I spoke to him and he said that he would pick me up in the evening. So…” before she finished the sentence her mother-in-law interrupted, “Lakshmi Ji and her family would be visiting us in some time. We need to organize a meal for them. You come home as soon as possible.”
The last sentence seemed stressed. Though her voice was pleasant like a morning drizzle, it conveyed in certain terms that Shikha needed to be home. No matter what. Shikha’s heart broke. Tears seemed to fail her.
“Okay,” she choked and disconnected the call.
Thirty minutes later, she reached home and whipped up a delectable meal for all. But not a morsel of it found its way down her throat. Disappointment and despair constricted her gullet. She felt like someone was strangulating her. She knew that she would meet her parents soon. But the fact that she couldn’t meet them when she wanted to kill her from within. She didn’t try to conceal her sorrow. No fake smiles. No facade of being happy. She presented her true self to the guests.
The house was filled with chatter and laughter but she felt grief enveloped like dark clouds. She cleared the dining table and entered the kitchen.
“Why is Shikha so dull today?” asked Lakshmi Ji.
“I observed it too. She seems a bit off,” her husband added.
Her mother-in-law clacked her tongue and whispered, “She wanted to go to her maternal home. I said that she must be here and treat you all well. After marriage, the marital home must be given priority.”
Tears that were restrained in her weary eyes unfettered themselves and coursed freely. Her cheeks stung but her heart bled in anger.
“But she is their only child,” Lakshmi Ji’s husband intervened only to be hushed by the ladies.
“It’s their fault they don’t have a son,” intoned Lakshmi Ji and her mother-in-law nodded in agreement.
Their words rang in her ears and her head throbbed. The blood in the vessels thrummed and she felt as though her eyes exuded fire.
“I’m their daughter. I’m their son. I’m their world. And, they are mine,” she yelled but the words remained shackled in her mind. Retreating to a corner, she held the sink and wept like a child. She was an independent woman. She was a team leader. She was an opinionated and empowered woman. A roaring laughter escaped her being as the train of thoughts chugged in her mind. She was living in a web of lies she had woven around herself. It felt like she had gone crazy.
Was she empowered? She felt weak and helpless like never before. She was just a married woman who lived according to the terms and conditions laid out by society.
“Mumma and Pappa, I wish you had a son,” she let out a muffled cry. She felt defeated and betrayed. She felt lost. She had finally succumbed to the ways of the matrimonial world.
Latha Prakash is a dentist by profession and writer by passion. She has contributed to anthologies like The Purple Poem, The Marital Games, When The Twain Met, Those Were The Days, and The Second Innings.
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