It was 7 PM. Sumitra and Devyani were having a nice chat. Akhil, Devyanis son would arrive any moment now and she would leave for home, till then both of them were enjoying each others company.
Just then Urmi – Sumitras daughter in law stepped in, gave in an artificial smile and went to her room. Her son Jagdish followed her bowed down by the weight of his laptop and bag. He too followed his wife to their room.
Sumitra looked uncomfortable, which was not unusual. She was afraid of almost everyone in this world, so her discomfort didn’t bother Devyani.
Urmi after sometime went to the kitchen and immediately came out and started screaming, ‘whats this Maaji, dinner not prepared yet? You know I like an early meal.’
‘I..I..thought I will make some khichdi, will be ready in 15 minutes.’ stammered Sumitra
She was saved further embarrassment by the arrival of Akhil and both he and Devyani left for their home.
By the time Devyani arrived home, her husband had already arrived from the golf course and was in a jolly mood. But Devi was disturbed.
Both she and Sumi were childhood buddies, but while she had always got a supportive and loving family, it was the exact opposite with Sumi. Her father had been a very dominating person and her mother very submissive. As such she had been raised to obey orders and so she had become meek. Marriage had not been kind either. Her mother in law was a tyrant and husband a bully. Fate had been kind that it took her husband when he was still young, otherwise don’t know how much more she had to suffer. But the household was run by her mother in law. Devi had sighed in relief when the old hag had died thinking at least now Sumi would learn to spread her wings but no, life still had some more aces up its sleeve.
Her son on completing his engineering had declared that he was going to marry his classmate Urmi. Everyone close had dissuaded saying that he was just 22, why the hurry, but both were adamant.
Sumi was happy. She dreamt of being the ideal mother in-law, of being supportive and loving and in turn being loved. But alas, Urmi was a bigger tyrant than her mother in law had been.
‘Maa’, Akhil asked,’ why are you so sad.’
And Devi told whatever had happened.
‘I will have a word with Jagadish, why can’t he drill some sense into his wife,’ Akhil grumbled.
‘But be careful son, let him not think that Sumi has complained otherwise it will become more difficult for her’, was her husbands advise

Meanwhile lying on the cot, Sumi was silently shedding tears, today being shouted at in front of Devi had been the ultimate insult, true she knew everything but still.
She felt miserable. So many times she had contemplated suicide but ..
People said its only cowards who committed suicide but only she knew that even suicide required courage which she did not have.
If only somehow she could stop breathing, if only…. there was no other way out.

The next day dawned bright and sunny, it was 7.30 am but the kitchen was not yet opened. Urmi stomped into Sumis room and shook her and said, ‘Get up we are getting late, make some breakfast, what do you plan to do, sleep the whole day. WAKE UP.’
‘Aren’t you a woman, don’t you know how to cook, go and make yourself, don’t bother me, I will get up when I feel like it. And when you are at it amek me some breakfast too and some lunch too, Now OFF YOU GO.
Sumis outburst had shocked both of them and they stood with their mouth open.
‘GO’, she screamed, and Jagadish I need a statement of my bank account, have to check how much is left and also from now on, The rent from our other flat should be deposited in my SBI SB account, Is it clear?
‘Yes maa’, he mumbled and ran after his wife.

Devi came to visit Sumi again after a week to see how she was doing to find her reading the Deccan Herald. DH? she was shocked, newspaper and Sumi? ‘Ahh Devi come come and they had a lively chat with some patties ordered from the neighborhood shop,(another first) and a lively gossip.
‘Sumi you are fine na.’
‘Yes but why are you asking’
‘You are a changed lady, this assertiveness, this change in mannerisms, habits, attitude that too in just 10 days, how?
Sumi just smiled.
‘If the change is good. let it be na Devi, why probe into the whys and buts,’ she smiled enigmatically.
What do you think is the reason for Sumitras change in behavior?

3 thoughts on “Step-In

  1. Thanks Ambulisamma and Rachna
    I had read a book called Herald of the New Age by Ruth Montgomery( I had mentioned it in Finally(Feb 10 post). She had mentioned therein that sometimes a person is so very tired of ‘living’that he/ she just wants to quit living. There are also souls out there who want to come back into the world but do not want to go through the infancy, growth stage again. SO at a time when a person wants to quit living, another soul can walk in.
    The idea for this story germinated then and its only now that I could write about it
    Rest I leave to ur imagination.

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