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The Salahkaars V

Previously everyone sits down for a discussion and its decided that Maaji will be persuaded to go to a trip to Vrindavan with the Sharmas. Late night Ammaji finds Ashok smoking who confesses to having problems with his wife-Ritu.

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‘Problems, what problems?’, Ammaji asks in a worried tone.

‘Since she lost her job, she has become very possessive. Always expecting me to be at her beck and call. How can I, Maa, the work pressure is so much I can;t keep running to her as and when she demands. And then she has become suspicious too always checking on my emails and going through the call log on my mobile. All this bugs me and when I tell her so we have a big row. if it ended at that it would have been better but no, she proceeds to make life hell for the boys.’

‘Obviously her ego and her confidence are both badly bruised by the ouster from the job’  Both turn to find Radhika who has obviously been eavesdropping.

‘She is feeling unwanted Ashu. Speak to her lovingly, patiently, give her loads of attention when you are at home. If need be go on a vacation, if you don’t have time for that go out somewhere near on a weekend, just assure her that no matter what happens you will always be with her.’

‘You think it will work’,’ he asked.

‘99% it will, 1 % I leave on hormones,’ she chuckled.

A week later

Ammaji sat down with her stitching. True she liked her family to be with her but at this age the hustle and the bustle tired her. Today the peace felt heavenly.

She looked across at Sharmaji hunched over the newspaper doing Sudoku and felt relief.

It had all worked out well.

Ashok had called up saying that he had worked on Radhika’s suggestion and was already making headway.

Radhika and Rohan had had a heady reunion and Rohan had persuaded his mother for the trip.

And Sharmaji was feeling useful once again

Only I have a job remaining, she sighed; to give some ‘gyaan’ to Rohan’s mother.

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(concluded)

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The Salahkaars IV

Previously-Rohan calls up, Ashok arrives and Radhika is already missing her home

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Radhika and Ashok relive their childhood days while Amita and Anil spend time being spoilt by their grandparents. The relaxed mood and Ashok’s persuasiveness propel Radhika to think of reconciliation. Ammaji feels a bit relieved because Ashok is supposed to leave in a day or two and she wants to sort out everything before his departure.

Technology helps at such times. While everyone including the kids start brainstorming, Ashok enables voice chat on his Lenovo and invites Rohan.

Rohan feels his mother is lonely.

Radhika feels she is selfish and narrow-minded.

The kids feel that Dadi needs some friends her age. So that she goes out and stop nagging them.

Ammaji feels that she needs a reality check.

Sharmaji feels that Rohan and Radhika need some space… from Ammaji that is.

‘Hey I got an idea, Papa and Amma are supposed to go to Vrindavan next month why don’t you persuade your mother to join them. In that way you all could get some breather, she too would have some change and …ahem; Maa could enlighten her somehow that times have indeed changed’, suggested Ashok

‘Hey Ashok that’s a good idea, Maa always wanted to visit Vrindavan. She rarely goes out but Vrindavan might just tempt her,’ yelled Rohan

And after that it was total chaos as everyone started speaking together.

‘Silence, one by one,’  screamed Sharmaji

And they began making plans

late night Ammaji got up to have a glass of water to see the balcony door ajar.

She peeped out to find Ashok smoking. Which meant he had some issues. He smoked only when he had some problems, as if blowing smoke rings could solve problems, huh, idiot, she thought.

‘Ashu’ she called out while Ashok scrambled to squash out the cigarette.

‘Whats bothering you?’

”Nothing’. said he.

‘Don’t lie to me at least.’

‘Ritu and myself are having some problems.’

Oh no, he too, thought Ammaji.

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(to be continued)

The Salahkaars-III

Previously Radhika returns home to her parents leaving her home for good. Meanwhile  Ashok is supposed to visit them and together they hope to find a solution to Radhikas problem.

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By evening Radhika’s mood got better and she went out to play badminton with the children. At that time, the phone rings and Mr. Sharma feels relief flooding through him because it is Rohan on the other side. if he has called it means things are not that bad.

‘Papaji how is she?’, is the first question that he asks.

‘Better now, playing badminton. Rohan, I do not want to interfere, but ……….’

‘I know Papaji, you will never interfere and I know that Radhi is right but.. Since Dad expired last year, Maa has become difficult to handle. She wants to live as she used to; in the olden days. earlier Dad would drive some sense into her but now no one can get through to her. She doesn’t go out much and will be after Radhi and the kids. I know she is feeling lonely. And so if I side with Radhi she will feel totally devastated.’

Sharmajis heart went out for Rohan, it gets difficult for a man when his wife and mother are on different sides.

After assuring Rohan that they will think how to tackle this problem he kept the phone down.

By night the children had relaxed and opened up. Yes, they did not like their dadis interference but they missed her presence too.

Radhika on the other hand was thoughtful.

‘Missing Rohan’, asked Ammaji

‘uhh yes. He is not a bad guy Maa, but sometimes I do feel that he should side with me especially when I am right.’

Ammaji at this juncture did not want to point out that its difficult to take sides. But she was pleased that whatever had happened between Radhika and Rohan their love and respect for each other was intact. The other issues could be sorted out.

Ashok came the next day around 3 pm and both the siblings started teasing and chatting with each other.

Sharmaji looked around happily it was a long time that the brother-sister duo were together at their parents place.

But ammaji was worried the lines around Ashok’s face told a different story. Ashok was having problems. No it was not some job problems, it was something personal but what??

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(to be continued)

The Salahkaars-II

Previously, Mrs. and Mr. Sharma are passing an idyllic time reminiscing about the past when their daughter rushes in with her kids and announces that she has left her husband and home for good.

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Radhika began to sob hysterically. Ammaji sat down and placed a hand on her shoulder only to be told that,’No Ammaji you are not going to cajole me into going back there, because I am not’.

Both of them with a glance conveyed to each other that it was better not to probe at this  juncture. The kids Amita-12  and Anil 8 were so upset that the grandparents proceeded to assure them instead.

After Radhika had sobbed her heart out, she took a long bath and after that a nap. Later on she had a long talk with her mother.

‘Its not that this decision was taken in a hurry Amma. The whole of 16 years I have compromised and adjusted but now the question is not about me it has come to my children and so I wont bow down.’

‘But what happened that you had to take such a drastic step’, probed Ammaji.

Radhika left a long sigh. ‘Marrrying Rohit was my own decision. I knew that his parents especially his mother was very conservative but I adjusted. She didn’t want me wearing western clothes, I accepted. She wanted that family should be my prime focus, I said yes. SO even though I am a lawyer, I am still an assistant, have never yet practised independently.But I agreed to everything because marrying Rohit was my choice. But now…’

‘Now what?’ asked Ammaji

‘Amita is growing up Amma. I can’t accept her to do whatever Maaji asks. Like Maaji orders her to roll rotis for the evening meal because now she has to be trained for household chores. How can she, doesn’t she have studies, music classes and all. It’s not that she doesn’t help out at home, she does. Then she shouldn’t speak to boys. In which age are we living ammaji, the ice ages? I finally put my foot down when she asked Amita not to wear jeans. Jeans Ammaji, can you believe it?’

‘Hmmm, and what is Rohan’s say in all this?’

‘Rohan agrees to my viewpoint but says that at her advanced age he cannot change his mother.  Tell me Ma how could I stay mum. How can I see my daughters simple joys thwarted. i want her to have as much joys as she can now, who knows what life has in store for her in the future’, and she burst out in tears once again.

Ammaji reflected that Radhika did have a point, a woman may compromise the whole of her life but not a mother.

Mr. Sharma came in with the news that Ashok was coming on an official tour the next day. Ammaji felt a little relief, the three of them would try to get a solution together.

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(to be continued)

The Salahkaars

Sharmaji sat with the TV remote in hand, while his wife sat mending something. All these ‘fine’ work took a lot of time for her. At 60 +years it was no wonder. Putting the thread in the needle itself was an enormous task, one which her husband dutifully did. He had recently had his cataract removed and lens fitted in the eyes. As such his eyesight was much better than his wife’s.

Only when you get old; that you realise the meaning of the word-better half. With their children busy in their own worlds, Sharmaji and his wife lived a life of peaceful co existence.

MTV had ‘Zoobi-zoobi’ from 3 Idiots running , Sharmaji had a look and said’ None can match the romance of ‘Pyaar hua ikraar hua’.’

‘Which just proves that you have become too old’, quipped His wife.

‘No, seriously, where has the romance gone, whether its real or reel life; everything is so open nowadays.’

Mrs Sharma or ammaji as she was universally known knew where this conversation would head, it would lead to his favorite topic-loose morals in today’s world  and so she changed it to-‘Remember we came out watching Barsaat ki ek raat and found that it was raining heavily’.

‘Yes and you perched on the bar of my bicycle with an umbrella, but by the time we reached home only our heads were dry,’ chuckled Mr. Sharma.

‘Yes’, those days were fun.’ she said, ‘How we used to leave the kids back home for our movie trips with the promise of popcorn and Amar Chitra Katha. And they would wait anxiously for our return.’

‘And now they make us wait for their return with toblerones and multi vitamins,’ Mr Sharma remarked with bitterness.

‘Why are you so bitter, they have to live their lives.’

‘Yes we raise kids so that they abandon us in our old age.’

‘Thats not fair, they have not abandoned us. Radhika has to be where her husband is and Ashok, what job will he get in this small town. You should be proud that you have two independent children who live life in their own terms.’

‘Did I say that I am not proud of their achievements. But I would have liked if they were somewhere near.’

Ashok keeps asking us to join him in Mumbai, its you who doesn’t like the pollution and the busy life there.’

‘HUH’, remarked Sharmaji, it was not that he didn’t understand but he missed his grandchildren terribly.’ Once you cross 60 your role in life is just as a Salaahkaar (advisor), nobody really needs you,’ he remarked.

‘Be happy that atleast your kids take your Salaah (advise), there are many who don’t even speak properly to their parents.’ reminded Ammaji gently.

At that moment the bell rang, Ammaji kept her stitching down but Mrs Sharmaji signalled for her to continue with her work. With her arthritic knee it would take her a long time to get up and move, by that time the visitor would be tired of waiting.

Sharmaji opened the door to find Radhika with her two kids and four suitcases standing at the door.

Radhikas sombre expression and mothers instinct both hinted Ammaji that something was terribly wrong but she didn’t ask, just made some Boost for the kids and some ginger tea which Radhika loved.

Radhika had a sip and burst into tears,’Ammaji, I have left Rohan and that house forever.’

Ammaji and Sharmaji both gaped at her in shocked silence.

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(to be continued)