Neethi is tired

Neethi was tired; she had got up from bed with a superhuman effort. From a couple of days she was having bouts of dizziness. Which made her wonder if she was having brain tumor or was it just eye strain.
Neethi and her string of imaginary illness were a legend of the family. If it was pain in the abdomen it was appendicitis, if a slight pain in the left hand, was it heart attack and so on. She could equate any pain to some major illness.

So, she was making curry for the evening, Nimit was freshnening up after returning from work when the salt jar fell from her hand and scattered on the floor. Nimit came running from the bathroom thinking that she had fallen down to see the clay pot in pieces and that was it, he screamed; break everything breakable and we will live on the debris. The expired clay salt pot had been given by his mother, who had said that salt never gathers moisture in a clay pot and remains free flow. So understandably he was volatile.

Later while having dinner he looked at Neethis ashen face and felt guilty. ‘Neethi do you think we should meet Akkaya or maybe an ophthalmologist and have your eyes checked.’ Now Akkaya was Dr. Savitri, Nimits cousin sister, a gynecologist. Something clicked in Neethis mind but she kept mum.

Next day Nimit returned from work to see Neethi quietly sitting in a corner. That scared him, normally she would be bubbling to give him the day’s news. ‘Why what happened’, he asked.

‘ When you mentioned akkaya yesterday, something clicked in me and I went to the pharmacy and got a pregnancy kit’, she said

‘Huh and?’, he was shocked

‘And it came out positive. Must be all the efforts on your birthday’, she giggled and then looking at his expression; got scared and added,’ see I know you didn’t want a baby now but now that its happened, lets go ahead.’

But Nimit was silent

‘Please say something I am scared’, she said

‘I am flabbergasted, ecstatic, don’t know what to say’, he said, which relieved her.

Dr. Savitri acted as their local guardian and whenever she was free used to invite them over to her place. That Saturday was one of those days. Neethi murmured her discovery and Dr. Savitri hugged her in joy.

‘See Neethi I know your propensity to break things and getting hurt, but you have to take care of yourself and the baby now,’ she advised. And Neethi blushed, ‘But Akkaya I don’t understand, I don’t have morning sickness like other women.’

‘Well everyone does not have morning sickness, some have evening sickness, some are always tired like in your case, each one is different dear’, she explained, ‘But presently you should take lots of rest, don’t over exert yourself. Eat well. Eating well does not mean eating for two as it is generally said. But eating healthy food, lots of greens and fruits. You may want to eat spicy food but try to limit it as the body tends to retain fluids if you eat spicy food. And some even have a tendency for high blood pressure. Same goes for sweets too, some have a tendency for Diabetes during pregnancy. Try to eat sweets which are made with jaggery, as it contains iron. And yes you have to start on folic acid. It helps in reducing birth defects. And after a couple of months we will start you on iron supplements. But before that you have to get your blood test done to check that you are not anemic. I will check my schedule and fix an appointment for you.’

Both of them listened attentively. While She went on.’ And yes I am repeating myself please do be careful about yourself, dear, walk slowly, watch where you are heading, pay attention to what you are doing in order that you don’t hurt yourself. Also if you are feeling tired don’t exert yourself, take it easy. This husband of yours can manage beautifully, just see.’

And so they returned home, each wrapped up in his own thoughts, each weaving the future with the coming joy.


Nimit was perplexed. This was the second time this week that he had come home to a locked house. True he had faith in Neethi but this time he had been home on a whim, just to check….
Just two days back he had come out of a meeting to find two missed calls from Neethi on his mobile, as his home was on the way to his next destination, he decided on a quick visit to find a locked door. But then Neethi had come within 10 minutes but was very evasive as to where she had been. Today too he was going for a meeting and decided to just check and again a locked door.

‘Is she already bored of me? Hell, its not even a year since we got married.’ he thought. Her mobile was switched off and because he was getting late he proceeded to his meeting.

And when he asked her about his whereabouts, she was evasive, ’Oh I had just been to get groceries ‘, she said. But he had observed her dropping something from her purse and then discreetly putting it away. ‘What’s happening?’, he thought.

The next day while coming out of his office building, he bumped into Raj, his childhood friend; they decided to have a cup of coffee and catching up on the news. After the usual chit chat, Raj asked,’ and Nimit how is married life?’ ‘Oh good, good, Neethi is just the type of partner that I wanted in life’, he replied.

‘Oh’, said Raj

‘Why? Why that oh’, asked Nimit

‘Just that I saw her with some guy at the Mall near my office with a guy, quite intimate they were. No, I don’t mean to make you anxious, just thought that you should know’, he replied.

Nimit thought that it must be Sudesh, her cousin but his suspicions had increased.

Wednesday was Nimits birthday, his first after marriage. He was looking forward towards it. Last year Neethi had made a beautiful bouquet and a handmade card for him. The card was so lovely that he had kept it safe in his wardrobe locker.

But nothing, she did not even wish him, he got so many SMS’s wishing him on his birthday but the normally inquisitive Neethi didn’t even ask who was messaging him.

Raj wished him around 10.30 am and then said,’Ahem I don’t want to be a spoilsport but I am in the coffee shop of Arcade and just saw Neethi taking the elevator to the 5th floor with that guy.’

‘What?’, screamed Nimit.

‘Yes, I followed them and they went to Room 505, Sorry yaar I just couldn’t stop myself….’ But found himself talking to a dead phone.

Nimit rushed in a rage to rhe Arcade and reached room 505. Banged the door, found it open and went in. He found Neethi, in a very pretty pink sari (his favorite).

Where is he, where is he?, he screamed.

‘Where is who, dear?’, she asked.

This maddened him and he rushed from one corner to another, searched below the bed, in the bathroom, just then his mobile rang.

‘Did you meet her?’, asked Raj.

‘Yes but I couldn’t meet the *******’, he said.

‘ha ha ha, enjoy your birthday, dear’, Raj said and hung up while Neethi came forward and hugged him.

It was much much later that they started talking.

‘What is all this Neethi?’, he asked.

‘I wanted to give you a birthday present which you would not forget. So I have been working as a freelance artist for one of the weeklies. Saved whatever I earned so that I could afford this room. Then called Raj and asked his help, he liked this idea so much that he agreed to help me. But tell me, did you really think that I would betray you.’

‘ No I had faith but yes I was jealous……’, the rest of the words were lost as they again got busy.

Neethis Diwali

Neethi was at her wits end. It was her first Diwali and she wanted to make it special for Nimit, her husband. He was away on an official tour but before his return she wanted to make everything ready.She wanted to gift him something too and that was her real worry. She wanted to buy something with her ‘own’ money. But being a housewife how could she do that.

She thought of decorating the diyas, maybe doing something will give her some solutions, she thought. She had recently torn a silk saree. They had been for a wedding and as usual she had been careless, her ‘pallu’ was caught on a nail and it tore. She planned to get a salwar kurta stitched with that saree. But she took the pallu, used the border to outline the rims of the diya. Then she took some ornamental mirrors and stuck it in the middle.Some she decorated with glitter pen, some with colored rice grains.In all she decorated 18 diyas to   put around the house.

She had already cleaned the entire house. So she got busy with making some laddus and savories. Then she put in some nice rangoli at the doorstep. In the drawing room she made a rangoli and then kept an earthern bowl; filled it with water and put some flowers in it. The sweet scent of flowers filled the air……

Nimit was supposed to come in the morning on diwali day, so she had hoped that he would be able to have the traditional oil bath, but he got delayed and came in about 7 pm. As soon as he came near his house he was stumped, all around there were beautiful diyas and when Neethi opened the door the smell of flowers wafted out. He stepped in to see a sparkling, beautifully kept house and the Dining table laden with goodies; all to his liking.

‘Oh Neethi such a surprise. Such a beautiful gift you have given me.  Thanks for making this Diwali so special, and he hugged her.

And Neethi… she was surprised too. She was upset that she couldn’t buy anything for Nimit. She had never realised that taking efforts to beautify your home or to cook lovingly what your partner liked were also special gifts. Very few people take care of others happiness and she was one of them.

Tapaka Neethi

Neethi was busy getting the batter ready for pesarattu*. Her husband was returning after an official tour. Being a vegetarian, he never could get good food while travelling and he just loved pesarattus. Humming a tune she added salt to the batter when the vessel tipped and fell; she cried out’Devada’ before catching the vessel just as it was about to touch floor. ‘Uff’, she said to herself,’ saved right on time’ and brushed the sweat off her forehead.
It had always been like that. Things just happened to fall of her hand. So much that in grannys place she was banned from the kitchen. It was an old house with thatched roof and everyone was afraid that if she went into the kitchen she might burn the whole house down. Her brother used to call her ‘Tapaka’Neethi. Tapaka being the Telugu word for firecracker. For wherever she went she would be accompanied with a bang and a burst.
During childhood she could never steal chocolates from the kitchen as invariably something would fall and her mother would come to know of her antics. After marriage initially her husband Nimit would arrive home and check if she had any burn marks or cut marks. Nowadays he would arrive and check if everything was intact.

‘I never do anything deliberately, it just happens.’ She thought.
After having his fill of pesarattus; Nimit called out’ See Neethi what I have got for you’, and he took out a beautiful ceramic bowl. I got it from an exhibition. Its quite expensive but the craftsmanship is exquisite. You can use it for special occasions. But please do be careful and store it properly.’ It was a beautiful bowl and she kept it on top of the showcase where her hands normally could not reach.
‘Neethi see, there is a cookery competition organized by the ladies club. Why don’t you take part,’ asked Nimit early the next morning browsing through the newspaper.
‘Yes, why not, you are a good cook,’
‘But what shall I make?’
‘Hmmm. Why not that capsicum raita* in the salad section? The smoked capsicum with the cumin and peanut powder gives it a distinctive flavor. And who knows its simplicity might win over the judges. Also you have a lovely bowl to present it in.’

Neethi liked Nimit’s suggestion and so sent her entry for the competition

The day before the competition, she stood over the chair to take down the bowl, when crash it went. Nimit came running to find that the bowl previously one was now in four quadrants.
‘That’s it Neethi, never am I going to buy you anything again. Can’t you handle anything properly’, he screamed and shut himself upin the study.

With tears streaming down her cheeks she began to clear away the mess when the telephone rang and she found her brother on the other side,’Annayya’ she called out and again there was a fresh bout of tears. ’What happened’, he asked and she recounted the whole story.
Her brother just could not control his laughter.
‘Annayya, Nimit is so angry’
“Give him some time and he will come around’
‘But how will I serve my Pacchadi tomorrow,’ she asked.
‘Hmm you will have to be innovative’ he said

Afterwards she went for a walk to clear her mind. After a brisk walk she stood below the jackfruit tree. It was the only tree left in the colony, that too because Mr. Burman loved Jackfruits and refused to let it be cut. She looked at the tree and its leaves and some memories of childhood flitted by. Their neighbor Mrs. Kamath would weave small cups with four leaves of the jackfruit tree and steam idlis in it. She still could smell the aroma of the idlis. ‘Eureka, she thought why don’t I wove a cup similarly for my raita. It would look lovely and would be eco friendly too. Only thing the cup should not have any gaps or the raita would seep through.

So she took some leaves back home to find Nimit still in a foul mood, ’And what are the leaves for? Do you want to make a bonfire now and burn the whole house down, is it?’ She hurriedly went and hid the leaves in a corner.

Next day with a lot of trial and error she could make a cup that would not fall and would not spill. Then she roasted the capsicum slowly over a fire and got the salad done.

At 4 p.m. she got ready and left for the venue. Nimit who was still in a bad mood refused to come for the event. For presentations she put a banana leaf and then kept the leaf cuo over it. on one corner of the banan leaf she arranged some flowers and on the other the ingredients of the salad. The participants had to present the item with the recipe. So she had written the recipe on chart paper with a quill using vegetable dye. The salad she put in the cup just before the gong for the competition was rung.

The judges came and stood before Neethi, one of them asked about the procedure while the rest tasted the dish. Then the second judge asked about her unique presentation.’ I wanted to present it in an economic and eco friendly way. Hence I used this cup. When the use of this cup is over, it can be thrown in our garden. It disintegrates completely. Or it can be used as fodder.’

The judges were visibly impressed.

When the judges moved away she too mingled with the rest of the participants and made many friends but looking at their exquisite recipes she realized that her entry was too simple to gather attention. And so when the results were announced, she was not surprised when she didn’t win any prize.
‘Now I would like to make a special mention for a unique presentation, which is economic and eco friendly’, the MC announced,’ the judges would like to give a certificate of appreciation for innovative presentation; and it goes to Mrs. Neethi Nimit’. And Neethi was called on stage to receive the award. From the dias she saw Nimit in the audience giving her a standing ovation.
The next day Nimit arrived from work with a huge bag. ‘What’s in this bag, Nimit?’, asked Neethi.

‘I had been to the outskirts for a survey and found some wonderful flora. I thought with your tendency to break things, maybe we could use these to beautify our home’ and out tumbled an assortment of leaves and twigs.
Tapaka-A Telugu word for firecrackers
Devada-A telugu term for God
Annayya- ATelugu term for elder brother
Pacchadi- salad
Pesarattu-A type of dosa made with green lentils and raw rice. Its usually stuffed with upma and served with ginger chutney ( An Andhra speciality)

Capsicum raita– Capsicum is charred over charcoal or on the gas burner. When it is cooked, the burnt skin is removed, washed and chopped. To this is added roasted peanut powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, grated coconut salt and thick curds. Usually garnished with coriander leaves.

The jackfruit leaf cup called as Khotte in Konkani and a very common way of steaming idlis amongst Konkanis. In earlier days when the there were joint families, the ladies would sit and make these cups while exchanging gossip. These cups were later given as fodder to the cows.