Custom Search

Me and My Family

by Sudha Chandrasekaran
(Coimbatore, India)

“Ma, ma…” Sarika could hear her son Mano calling out to her. She was busy working in the kitchen and felt a bit irritated...” Why is this Mano troubling me even now...? He was this before his marriage to Vandana and is still the same...Thinking thus, she walked towards the bathroom from where Mano was calling out.., “what do you need Mano?’ “Ma, just pass my towel... It is hanging on the towel rack ...”

“I am busy in the kitchen ...Can you not call Vandana, Beta?”
"Ma, Vandana is in a call now …” said Mano.

Sarika glanced at the bedroom where Vandana was sitting on the bed with her laptop and headphone and seriously discussing some office matters.”

Hmmm, very lucky daughter –in-law to have a mother-in-law like another 45 minutes both of them will be coming for breakfast Let me go ahead and finish my preparations.” Thinking thus Sarika walked towards the kitchen. Her mind started recalling the conversation of her friend Madhvi with her in the market yesterday.

Started Madhvi, “My daughter-in-law is a very understanding and sweet natured girl. She takes upon herself all the household chores despite my telling her to allow me to do some work at home…She says, “ Maaji , you have done enough..Now is the time for you to rest and enjoy life… Why don’t you go for Manali tour along with my parents…it will be fun going out without thinking about home responsibilities...What say you Maaji?”
Moreover she always has a smiling face...” continued Madhvi.” Good that my son did not marry a working girl... Otherwise I also would have complained like you about the non-participation of my daughter-in-law in the home affairs...”

All this started churning in Sarika's mind. ‘Now it is 2 months since Mano got married.. Has Vandana even made a cup of coffee till today? When Mano expressed his desire to marry a working woman, I immediately consented as I always considered Mano’s wish as my command… he is my only ladla child. I never thought about myself or the difficulties which I may have to face when I have a working daughter-in-law. I pack up the lunch box for both of them. They leave for work saying “Bye,” and then come only late in the evening. Vandana works for a US firm and so after dinner logs in again and then is off to bed. If I ask Mano about this, he defends his wife saying that the nature of her work is like this. There is this Parul living in the opposite house. She is also a working woman...She finishes all her housework before leaving for office... What is it that is so special about Vandana’s work? Sarika got angry with herself.What to do...I have to put up with all this for my son’s sake.’

Sarika went to bed as usual but woke up suddenly. She had high temperature during midnight and was shivering with cold... Mano gave her paracetamol tablets and put her to sleep. When she woke up the next day morning, she saw sun streaming through the window...”OMG, it is very late...” so saying Sarika tried to get up but felt tired and weak. She saw her daughter-in-law Vandana standing next to her. Vandana gave her a helping hand and “Maaji, how do you feel now.” “Better but feeling weak and my body is paining”.” Now take this tablet and some coffee and bread Maaji. ....”

Vandana saw Sarika’s eyes searching for Mano. She said, “Mano had some urgent meeting today morning and so he has already left for work. I have taken leave today and will be with you.take some rest Maaji...” Sarika looked a bit surprised at Vandana’s behaviour...
"Mano wanted me to call after you get up. .”

Several thoughts crossed Sarika’s mind... What did Mano have for breakfast? How is the kitchen now...vessels must be lying all over...that pipe’s washer needs a change... did Vandana close the pipe properly? Is it leaking? Anyhow nothing can be done... Will see all that later on...I am feeling drowsy now….

On getting up Sarika was in for a
surprise. The whole house was spotlessly clean; .She could get the smell of Chenna from the kitchen; fragnance of bathi wafted in the air and a diya was lit in the poooja room: clothes were washed and hanging on the clothes line. Sarika slowly walked towards the kitchen and saw Vandana humming a song and deeply engrossed in cooking..’What a pleasant surprise’!” Is it a dream? Is it Vandana?”thought Sarika.

“Maaji, better now? Mano said he will be taking you to the Doctor’s clinic after having his dinner and so I am cooking his favourite poori and chenna now”, said a smiling Vandana.” I have made some vegetable soup for you…”.Sarika just kept on looking at Vandana ...” What a sweet girl!” Soon Mano came home and after finishing their dinner all three of them left for the clinic... Sarika went inside doctor’s room while Mano and Vandana waited outside.

On coming out of the room, Sarika overheard the conversation between her son and daughter-in-law.
“What yaar, you have suddenly changed into a dutiful daughter-in-law and a sweet wife?” joked Mano. Said Vandana,” Hey, what are you saying my dear?”
“Yeah, I have not seen you helping around even on holidays. But what happened today…all done systematically; hmmm delicious favourite chenna and poori. Whenever I asked you to prepare all this, you would simply say ‘later on ’ and walk away. I thought today also I might have to order food online…what’s the reason behind this sudden transformation my dear?”

“What Mano...if Maaji is not well, it is I who has to look after everything. what is so great about this? This is my house after all.”

"But Vandana, had you done all this even on other days, it would have been of great help to Ma. Is it a rule that you should do all this only when Ma is indisposed?”
“Not at all ... In fact I do like to do all this but the ‘fear in me prevented me from doing work at home ...”
“What Vandana... what fear is it?”

“Yes Mano. When my brother got married, my babhi took full charge of the kitchen immediately. Not only that, she did not allow my mother to do any work...My mother felt that my Babhi had usurped her place and that her importance was diminished. Finally, it lead to bitter feelings between them and the beautiful mother-in--law /daughter-in-law turned sour.”

Continued Vandana, "From the day I entered this house, Maaji has not told me to do this or that... Once when I offered to help her out, she smilingly and gently refused saying that it was too early to take on the house hold responsibilities... having seen the situation in my home, the fear in me made me think and wait. And hence I was busy only with my work..But I am always a part of this family and it is my responsibility to take care of the family... what I did today is not a transformation or any such thing, it is what I want to do... do you understand my dear hubby?” so saying she ruffled his hair and smiled at him..

Mano gave Vandana an affectionate look and Sarika’s eyes were filled with tears on hearing this. “What a fool am I...I failed to understand my daughter-in-law and started talking ill of her in front of my friends. I should have directly told her what I wanted instead of my expecting her to understand my thoughts and wishes. The educated youngsters these days do not forget their duties and they balance their office and home very well. Sometimes it is we elders who fail to understand this and jump to conclusions. Anyhow I have understood all this before it became too late. From now on, maintaining peace and harmony in the family is my priority... Moreover, I must tell my friends about the good nature of my sweet daughter in law when I meet them next.”

“Maaji... shall we go home now... all ok?” asked Vandana kindly.
"Yes, beta, all okay, come let’s go,” said Sarika with a big smile on her face..


Click here to post comments

Return to Short Story.