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The near perfect woman

by preethi warrier

She sat at the window of her flat, head resting on the wall, watching the beautiful Mumbai skyline being soaked in heavy rains. She closed her eyes, feeling the rains falling on the window. She had always loved rains and now she vividly remembered that rainy evening, ten years ago, when she had met Sumit. It was in her room, at her parents’ house.  She, all of 22, he 26.  His mother had seen her at a wedding and proposed. He had come to meet her, and they chatted, for long. By the time he left, both knew the answer would be a YES, they had hit it off like friends who hadn’t met for long. They shared similar tastes, similar hobbies, interest in books, travelling. And Sumit, handsome and charming, his simplicity never giving away the fact that he was rich, had joined his father’s business, and was doing well. Her in laws didn’t want a penny from her parents, all they wanted was a beautiful, slim and well educated daughter in law whom their son would like.

And so Anu, a tall, beautiful, well brought up, M.A in Literature, a modern day girl with all the qualities of a perfect bahu, fell head over heels in love, and married her prince charming and moved out of her parents’ 2 bhk flat in Malad to a posh 5 bhk in Bandra.

The first few months had been total bliss. Sumit was so very caring, he cooked when he had time, he shopped, he insisted on buying her clothes, took her for movies, he made it so easy to enjoy.  And unlike what her friends had warned, her in-laws weren’t trouble at all. Her father in-law was always away on business, and since Sumit’s sister was in the US, her mother- in- law spent more than six months there. And there were servants for almost everything, the Maharaj took care of all the cooking. The big house, just the two of them most of the time, life was good for Anu.

And they let her work. Her mother-in law had said,” Why not, my daughter works, why shouldn’t my bahu?” Anu soon took up a job as a primary school teacher, teaching English and Social Studies, earning her own pocket money, spending time fruitfully. She would be home by the time Sumit came and her in- laws gave them all the freedom to enjoy.

It was just a year into the marriage that the good news happened. Sumit was elated, he doted on her all the time. Despite Sumit’s disapproval, she worked almost till the last month of pregnancy and then her daughter arrived. An angel, even now she remembered the cute face, lots of hair, closed fists, the baby smell. And as with everybody, the young parents’ lives turned topsy turvy... little fights, sleepless nights, late meals .It was during this period that Sumit and she fought for the first time and then, all the time because she just didn’t get time to even look at Sumit, let alone  making love. Gone were the carefree romantic days, it was messy everywhere and Sumit always ended up sleeping in the next bedroom.

Then three years down the line, little Akanksha started schooling and things started returning to normal. They started their evening outings, movies, shopping. Anu was happy again, she was getting back in shape too.  Anu often visited her parents, Sumit never stopped her, but her only problem was that her mother kept reminding her of taking up her job again. “By the time you feel like working again, it might get too late. I think you should be financially independent”, her mother would say. But  Anu wasn’t ready , she couldn’t leave Akanksha with her maids. She wanted to be a hands on mom, and anyway Sumit kept her comfortable.

Soon Sumit started insisting on having a second child. Anu put her foot down. ” I am not ready yet, it’s only now that I have started living again”, she argued.  Initially he agreed, but later, he started coaxing again. He reasoned, “We have enough space, enough money, I am doing well, and we can easily manage. Doesn’t Akanksha need a brother to complete the family?”

Her mother- in- law regularly started advising her about the benefits of two kids, how they learn to  care and share and how they become responsible.  Also, how she could complete the family by having a boy.

It didn’t take her long to realize that the only reason behind their insistence was that her in-laws actually wanted a boy, a boy to inherit the business, a boy to carry their family name forward. She wept the whole night, her in-laws were at least old, but she never expected this from Sumit. Reluctantly she gave in, her mother-in- law chanted and prayed for a boy. The second baby arrived soon, her daughter Amisha.

Anu now dedicated herself completely to her husband and kids. She cooked for them, dropped them off to school, and took keen interest in their studies and all their activities. The kids were soon enrolled for music, keyboard, dance and swimming. And she made sure they excelled everywhere.  She loved spending all her time with them and they were such sweethearts, never a trouble.

Her relation with her mother- in- law had soured though .She never helped Anu with the kids and Anu somehow couldn’t come to terms with the fact that this lady had wanted a boy. There were no efforts of reconciliation from both sides.

Anu didn’t get time these days to visit her parents , she and her kids were always busy. Plus her mother kept repeating the same thing, when she would start working, that she could always hire a tuition teacher, school bus, and baby sitters and that kids would grow up fast.  Anu avoided her, she wouldn’t understand that Anu wanted to be a perfect wife and mother, she preferred to be available for her family all the time.

More than anything, her marriage had changed. There were no fights now, Sumit just wasn’t around anymore. With a growing family, and growing demands, he travelled more and worked all the time. When he was at home, he kept the girls happy, played with them, took them out. Anu often felt like telling him to help her more, help her relax, but then complaints led to fights and she didn’t want to end up being a nagging wife. After all, he was working so hard for them.  She took pride in the fact that she was trying her best to be  perfect.

The short story continued here...