I got up late, as was becoming my custom, and dragged my arthritic feet to the dining table, expecting breakfast and freshly brewed tea would be awaiting me. But to my disappointment Bahu was nowhere to be seen and Maasi was trying to console my wailing grand daughter. “Where is Bhabhi?” I asked her in irritation. “Bhabhi ke sar mein dard tha”, Maasi was all sympathy for my daughter in law. She told me that after sending the kids to school and her husband (my son) to office, (and as I was asleep) she had taken the luxury of a nap.
I felt annoyed. How lazy of her and how irresponsible! Always finding one excuse or another for that extra rest! Stifling a yawn I contemplated going to the kitchen to prepare my tea and boiled egg, which Bahu does everyday, (as I am very fussy about my tea, she always brews it fresh while I am busy devouring my fruit and cereal). But I decided against the idea and chose to wait for her to get up. I was afraid that by preparing my breakfast myself I would spoil Bahu, after all it was her duty to look after my requirements!
I picked up the newspaper lazily and tried to go through the news. But my mind was still bogged with sleep and a craving for tea. So I decided to call my daughter, something I usually do after breakfast. The maid girl picked the phone, “Baji to so rahi hain”, she informed me. She told me that the baby had been cranky all night and my daughter had gone to sleep for a while (after performing her morning duties). Like a flip of a coin my mood changed completely! ‘My poor girl’, I thought to myself, ‘always overworked and under slept! Keeps toiling away after her home, kids and husband and never finds time to rest. Good, she has taken that extra nap’. I thought lovingly as I sat trying to read the newspaper and waiting for Bahu to get up and serve me breakfast.
After a few minutes the telephone bell rang. It was my daughter, “Oh Mama, you called but I am sorry that I was sleeping. I went to make the bed but couldn’t resist the temptation to lie down for a while. The baby was restless last night and I couldn’t sleep properly”. “Its all right darling, no need for so many explanations”, I told her lovingly. “I know that you will be busy for the rest of the day”. “But I haven’t started preparing lunch as yet and the children will be back in no time”, her voice was distraught. I tried to soothe her, “Come on darling, don’t worry so much, make some Khichri or you can serve the kids Maggi noodles” ( I conveniently chose to forget that this was a luxury I never allowed my daughter in law).
“You toil too much after them”, I tried to give my daughter a motherly scolding, “You were looking very pale and pulled down when you came to visit last week”. I could feel the laughter in my daughter’s voice as she quipped back, “Thank God! There is at least one person in town who finds me pale and weak, my friends tease me for putting on weight and only yesterday my doctor has advised me to shed at least five Kgs”.
Indignantly, I was about to give her my piece of mind about her friends and doctor but I heard signs of movement from Bahu’s room. Telling my daughter that I would talk to her in detail later on, I hung up and quickly hid myself behind the Newspaper. ‘The coin had flipped again!’ I had to re-arrange that look of displeasure on my face and the frown on my brows before my daughter-in-law stepped out of her room!
My article in The review… 11th September, 2008