The phone rang. Parvathi picked it up.
‘Amma’, a voice called. It was Shriya. ‘Amma I am coming tomorrow morning by bus. I will come home myself. There is no need for Appa to come to pick me up.’
‘Huh, but…’, said Parvathi.
‘I do not know when the bus will reach Amma, that is why’, clarified Shriya.
‘But why are you calling from a public booth, what happened to your mobile’, asked Parvathi.
‘Oh that’, answered Shriya, ‘low battery, amma, alright the bus is about to start, so meet you tomorrow’.
Parvathi stood there cradling the receiver of the phone. Shriya has not charged her mobile which is very unlike her. She is so organised with everything especially before her travel. Plus she was travelling by bus, which is again unlikely. She either comes by flight or train. Which again means that her plan to come here was sudden.
‘What happened’, a voice called. It was Karunesh, Parvathi’s husband.
Parvathi explained and told her suspicions too. ‘I think she and Mahesh have had a fight’.
‘Parvathi, why do you always have to read between lines, maybe she is homesick’, said Karunesh.
‘Maybe, but isn’t that home her home too now.’, she said.
Next morning, she woke up early wanting to finish the chores so that she could sit with her daughter and chat. Shriya reached by 10 am.
The day was spent in happy reminiscing, joking, eating.
Parvathi’s gentle probing was ignored. It was obvious that there was something but Shriya was not yet ready to divulge.
‘Amma, was Appa was like this only when young’, asked Shriya once her father had left for his evening walk.
‘This only means?’, asked her mother.
‘Was he always so gentle. always sharing the minutest thing with you, taking care of you so much’, said Shriya.
Parvathi became silent. All the events of the early years flitted across her mind like a slide show.
”Amma, amma, where are you lost’, asked Shriya gently nudging her mother.
Parvathi looked at her daughter lovingly, sat down and began.
‘I always thought that men of the previous generation were dominating and the men of mine were more liberal. It was true. But I also assumed that with me being educated, the relation between me and my husband would be more balanced. I thought decisions would be taken together whether it be family or financial. And so when I met your father I thought I had been blessed. He was nothing like my father. He was gentle and so very gracious. He would help me in our tiny home and when your brother was born our life was perfect. I used to feel so proud of having such a wonderful husband and a cute son.
We were just married for about a year and a half. Your father was busier now that he had been promoted. Your brother was sleeping and I was tidying up. I came across some papers and too my horror I came to know that your father had bought a house for his sister and that too just a few months back. My world came crushing down. My vision of a perfect partner of one who would be open with me, who would take my opinion, who would share everything, was shattered.
I could have confronted him but ego made me silent. I kept to myself. I started noticing things. I noticed that when there were matters about his profession or about investments, he never talk to me. He would rather talk to his sisters than me.
But one day I did ask him why he had bought the house and why he had not told me.
‘What did he say?’, Shriya asked. Parvathi noticed that Shriya was sitting on the edge of her seat. ‘Aha, she thought so Mohan and Shriya are having some troubles amidst them.’
‘He told me, ‘Akka needed a house, her in-laws had turned them out. So I bought a house for her. That much I can do for my sister without consulting you, can’t I? Anyways it is money that I earned, can’t I spend on my people?’
‘I was hurt, very hurt. About his using the term ‘my people’ about his saying my money. I didn’t reply to him but the rifts were more obvious now. My father may have been dominating but he never said yours and mine. Your father did. Your father was helpful around the house, he spoke to me but did not share. I realized that I may be his wife but when his family were concerned I would always be a third party’.
‘Then what did you do Amma’, asked Shriya who by then was sitting near Parvathi’s feet.
‘I thought of going away. I thought of arguing with your father of asking my rights. But then on introspection I realized that nothing could be done, It was his nature I had to accept it.’
‘What’, asked Shriya.
‘That for your father I was his wife not exactly his soul mate. So I would always be an outsider for him.’
They spent some moments in silence. Parvathi thinking of those times and Shriya understanding that even her darling Appa was not perfect.
‘Didn’t you feel like leaving Appa and going away’, asked Shriya.
‘Yes, I did. But I was not the career types Shriya. I wanted my home, my family. And it was not that he was overtly cruel to me or something. He took care of me, I was never wanting for either food, clothes or respectability. So I decided to stay put. Anyways I had come to realise that no relation is perfect and no one is your best friend except the one above’, Parvathi said caressing Shriya’s head.
Shriya mulled and nodded.
Parvathi continued, ‘I spent hours contemplating. I would make your brother sit on my lap and sit near the Altar and pray. Pray for a way out. The hurt was too much you know of being sidelined, of not being asked my approval before the house was bought.
But then I weighed the pros and cons. And the pros; your fathers goodness outweighed the bad. And finally I accepted him as he was. Who is perfect Shriya in this world. Am I perfect? No, so I accepted him as he was’.
They spent some time again in silence. By then Karunesh returned and asked, ‘So were the mother-daughter duo conspiring against me?’
‘I will get you some juice’, said Parvathi.
Shriya was silent. Contemplating on her demons.
‘I hope you have laid all your demons to rest’, asked Parvathi when Shriya was about to board her train .
‘Thanks to you, I did’, said Shriya.
‘Which demon”, asked Karunesh.
‘Oh nothing’, they said in unison, ‘just womanly stuff. Nothing of your interest’.
I can write stories but I have a tough time giving a title. I struggled today too and finally put it as Parvathi. You can name it other wise 😀