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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)

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)

Maze (Part5)

The following days took the shape of earlier days with the kids going to their schools and the adults on their respective jobs.
But somewhere in the back of her mind Anahita was scared. Scared about what would happen at the next meet with the counselor. True she had grievances with their relationship but Ajay, he too might be having his own. Would he be able to accept his mistakes and she hers? After her talk with Suhani she had realized that she had been in the wrong too.
At the next session both of them were silent. Each one afraid of what might happen. Will their relationship break or will they be able to take it to a higher level. Living together for so long a person does get attached and dependent on the other.
‘Alright are you ready for today’s session?’, asked Dr.Indumati and before they could answer proceeded to say, ‘this will be a one to one session, meaning one of you will tell me the problems of your relationship while the other will go out and fill a questionnaire. So that you are able to communicate freely without any fear. So who will be the first to tell me?’
When both of them were silent, she asked Anu to be the first and Ajay stepped out to the adjoining room to fill the questionnaire.
‘Are you relaxed Anahita?’
‘Hmm, yes’
‘So what do you think are the problems in your life right now?’
She had thought about this a lot. ‘Doctor Ajay does not take me as an individual with my own needs and desires. Neither does he respect me for what I am. Always nags and demoralizes which affects me mentally. I try to please him but the problem is he is never satisfied. Neither is he communicative either with me or with the kids. It takes two to run a family but he is always passive’, she concluded.
You mean to say he doen’t participate in any activity around the house, she asked.
‘Yes. I also feel he is jealous of my success or maybe his ego is hurt that I have achieved success while he has not.’
‘Has he evr verbally said so?’, the counselor asked.
‘Sort of. Whenever there are letters to the editor that my feature was done nicely, he would say things like only a stupid can like it or do they really know English, things like that.’
While this exchange was going on Ajay was filling out answers for questions like when was the last time you actually spoke to your spouse and when was the last time you held hands. ‘what sort of stupid questions are these and what conclusions can she draw form such questions’, he wondered.
After sometime he was called inside and Anahita sent out.
‘So Mr.Desai what do you think is the problem in your marriage?, the counselor asked.
‘the problem is we have grown apart.’
‘And why have you grown apart?’
‘Because of Anu. I mean she is so very busy with her work. She does not have time for us.’
‘But she works from home?’
‘Yes she does. She does her duties like cooking cleaning, attending PTA meetings. But no time to really talk or sit with us. At every given opportunity she tries to demean me.’
‘Demean you verbally?’
‘No, she has this superior demeanor and ‘I know it all’ looks. She will get these surprise gifts for the kids to show off that she earns well etc’
That was the beginning of their therapy. Broken communications had impaired their relations so much that it took a long time for each to realize their mistakes. But what helped them to recover was their hidden love for each other, the love for their kids and their need to keep their family intact.
Ajay finally admitted that his ego was indeed hurt that Anahita was a success. He was made to realize that his own failures were not because of ‘luck’ but because of his low self esteem and confidence. He was made to realize that his family, his kids needed him and he had to take an active part in the day to day activities.
And Anahita ; she was told that there was no need to be always perfect. Making mistakes was part of being human. She was told to delegate work and not to try to do everything by herself. The family could have fun in doing things together. Children do learn about planning coordination, managing if given an opportunity.
But most important was that both were asked to share. To share their joys and sorrows, their worries. To make decisions together, to live life together and not as single entities in a conglomerate.
Anahita did accept the editorial post. She started sharing. Her husband and kids became her friends. Ajay became a better person. Suhani is trying to make a balance between studies and dramatics and Sanket a happy boy.
But will they all find a way out of the maze of conflicting emotions, only time will tell.
(Concluded)

Maze (Part4)

After a day at the hospital Sanket was sent home. Each one of them kept a vigil by his bedside. Anahita woke up early finished her work and then spent time with him. Suhani too spent all her free time with him.Ajay too started coming early, each one kept a lively chatter so that he would be happy and he being still innocent couldn’t feel the undercurrents and was happy. But Anu felt as if sitting on a live volcano.

She had expected Ajay to erupt on her mentioning their problems before the Doctor or the mentioning of a marriage counselor. But Ajay seemed to have mellowed. Sanket’s sickness had scared him. He was his pet. The typical boy child syndrome.

‘Anu we have to talk’, whispered Ajay,’not now, later when Sanket sleeps.’
‘Oo ‘thought Anu, ‘honeymoon is over, time for some reality check.’

For some time they both played Snakes and Ladder with Sanket, a harmless game which didn’t require much energy and later when he started getting dozy both got up asked Suhani to keep an eye and went to their room.

‘I agree Anu we do need help, but why a counselor why not family’, Started Ajay.
Anu was surprised at Ajay’s initiation and also bluntness. He had a habit of beating around the bush and then gradually coming to the point but his approach today surprised her. And pleased her too.

‘Because Ajay if we call my side of the family they will side with me and if its yours they will side with you. We need somebody who is impartial. Who looks at the problem from all angles and then guide us. Also when we bring in relatives it will just lead to bitching midst the family and relationships being spoilt‘, explained Anu.
‘I agree, so do you have anybody in mind’, said Ajay.

‘No’, said she. His attitude was indeed surprising.
‘Well I hear that our Company OHC (Occupational Health Clinic) has a Counselor on its payroll. Do you mind if we go there.’

‘Oh no not at all’, said she.
‘So I shall fix up an appointment ‘, said he.
‘Sure’, said she.
The intervening days were spent with and around Sanket. Now that a direction had been sought, she felt light headed and relaxed. The happy environment, even if a farce, was pleasing and it surprised them both that how much work could be accomplished if the surrounding was congenial. Both the kids were thriving. Sanket rejoined school and Suhani ……became a regular at school.

The first session at Dr.Indumati’s chamber consisted just of filling out forms-personal details, ifs and whys.

And then the grilling.
‘So Mr. And Mrs. Desai, whose idea was it to see a counselor’, she started

‘Both of us’, said Ajay which pleased and surprised Anu. The graduation from me to us was a big step forward by itself.
‘Alright so both of you agree that there are problems in your marriage which needs to be solved.’
‘Yes’, they chorused.
So we will begin the next session with both of you telling me what you think has gone wrong in your marriage. The next session will be day after tomorrow so take the intervening time to think about it’ and with that she concluded that day’s session.