Today Pallavi’s brush just picked up greys. She had tried to be brave, she had tried to be positive but Maajis bitter words kept ringing in her ears. ‘What do you think, just because someone has given you some work, you can escape from your duties….’
All her colors were black and white today, there was no sunshine in them. Ultimately she had left off her canvas, picked her bag and left.
She took a longer route that day. Yes she could have gone home, tidied up the home, cooked up something nice, but why and for whom. Whatever she did was never good enough for her husband and for his mother. And after 21 years did she need to prove herself?
She paused on her way. A group of kids were playing hopscotch and a smile played on her lips but her legs were aching, she could not stand for long and so she moved.
‘Can’t you see?’, someone screamed. She had not seen that a car was about to park and if the driver had not been agile, she would have been hit. She mumbled a sorry and moved.
‘Hey…’, the person called out. She froze. Now what? Was she supposed to pay fine just because she came in his way?
‘Aren’t you Pallavi……Don’t you recognize me, have I changed that much.., and then when she did not respond,’ Shyam your school classmate, come let’s catch up’.
They went to a cafe. He was now a businessman, had a daughter but had divorced recently…He kept on telling about himself. Pallavi just listened. Twenty years of being bound to the home had crippled her self-esteem and she no longer knew how to behave with people. After some time she excused herself saying that she had some work and left without even taking his phone number.
‘I called you about a hundred times, have you lost your mobile’, said her m-i-l.
‘uhh, it is on silent mode,’, she whispered.
‘Why has my son got you a mobile, if you cannot receive my calls. Anyways my throat is aching make me so ginger tea’
And Pallavi went to make some ginger tea.
Her daughter Vibha cringed. ‘Maa, why do you have to behave like a puppet’
‘She needs tea Vibha, how can I refuse’
‘But you yourself are tired, can’t you say at least that let me freshen up’.
Pallavi shrugged and left with the tea-cup.
Pallavi had always been timid. A fact that her husband and his mother capitalized on and had made her into a robot, a servant who danced to their tunes. What she felt, what she wanted was never acknowledged. It was the canvas that gave her respite. But she had been too afraid to ask her husband for some colors and some paper. And often played about with the children’s art kit. Vibha’s art teacher had noticed her scribbles and asked her to paint a tribal woman for her home.
There had been an uproar at home that day.
‘Who do you think will fund for your expensive canvases and colors. I am not a millionaire. If you want to paint, go ask your father for some money,’ her husband screamed.
She did not paint. Vibha told her teacher. The teacher asked her to come to her home and paint on her easel. After that ‘job’ was over, she got some orders, the teacher had been kind enough to let her paint in her spare room. Now that she was earning a little, she brought her own colors.
‘Maa, surprise’. It was her son Ishaan. ‘You here?’, Pallavi asked. ‘Do you think, I would have missed such an important day?’
Yes it was an important day. She was showcasing twenty of her paintings in an exhibition along with four other artists.
Ishaan was in his second year engineering and his exams were due next week. She felt overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Yes gratitude. The love that her kids showed to her wa something she had missed all her life.
There was a lot of crowd, She got a lot of orders and Shyam had come too. ‘When I saw the ad in the newspaper, I had to come and see your work’, his eyes shone with respect and pride. She blushed and then moved her vision to some other attendees.
‘Why are you so late, didn’t you know that we eat at 9 sharp??’, said her husband.
‘Dad haven’t I given you dinner,’ screamed Vibha. So that was the reason that she did not come to the exhibition. Pallavi looked at her daughter with pride. So much maturity at 12 years of age. She was the one one who saw to it that I returned to my passion and today she stayed back so that she could take care of my responsibilities.
Later that night both the kids huddled near her while Ishaan narrated to Vibha the happenings of the evening.
‘Maa, Shyam said that he was your classmate’, Ishaan said
‘Yes, she said
‘But why did you ignore him’.
She stayed silent
‘Maa are you afraid that you will be attracted to him. He is such a kind considerate man. Are you afraid?’
She bent her eyes. Somehow her kids had become wise beyond their age.
Vibha was all excited. ‘Maa is he handsome, is he rich…’, and so on
She stayed silent.
So what if you are really attracted to him Maa. You can be friends again and see where the relationship takes you.’
‘Ishaan,’ she said sharply, stop your imaginations’.
Maa what has Dad given you emotionally? If someone cares for you genuinely, is it wrong? I have already moved out Maa and so will Vibha in some years, then what will happen Maa, Dad never cared for you and her will never do so’.
Yes was it wrong….She did not really know. But could she really get some companionship, could she really be friends with anyone male or female. She didn’t really know.
But yes it was time she allowed some bright yellows and greens into her life and remove the greys.