Like any other ordinary domestic quarrel, Paru fought with her husband demanding to move away from the joint family set up to a nuclear family environment, where she can focus on her children and husband, plan her daily chores than being dictated by her mother-in-law every single day on what to do and what not to do. She also wanted her personal space to do things of her passion like painting, traveling and making friends.
The joint family set up did not allow her to make any savings and stressful daily chores made her sick both physically and mentally. Her husband empathized with her, but there was very little he could do as he was not able to speak against his parents will and wish. Paru felt disgusting as her husband’s inability to convince even on little things in life like taking a day off with his own family for an outing. She decided that it is time for her to speak up than expect her obedient husband who never could muster courage to speak his heart with his parents.
Paru has grown in a environment where girls were treated equally and did all things that boys could do. She was raised like a boy participating in sports and enjoying trips with friends and having her own space to explore her creative skills and talents. Unfortunately the domestic set up where she entered as a bride was just the opposite. It took her several months to understand on how to deal with people from a different planet. The house was dominated by male chauvinistic brothers who played to the tunes of their arrogant mother who controlled her husband without any qualms. Poor father in law has little or no say in the management of the house and always acted as per the decisions made by his wife. Her arrogance was covered by fake smiles that the world could never see her true self. She was hardly sensitive expect that in looks she looked dashing and beautiful even as she became a grand mother. Behind her feminine looks, was a truly selfish and dirty mind that people from outside can never ever imagine of such an existence!
Paru also initially thought that her mother in law as a fairy-tale god mother. She just followed her ‘orders’ and felt relieved to complete the same. She got excited when her mother in law praised her to the neighbors. Not after the day she got the pinch of the other side of this woman. Paru was in her bed room when she heard her mother in law talking to the neighboring Kamala aunty. Her mother-in-law was telling her that she unfortunately brought home a short and dusk skinned woman for his son as a daughter in law. Paru was the shortest of the daughter- in- laws and other ladies in the house were fairer than her. Kamala aunty was trying to convince that Paru is a good girl and she would fit into the family easily. Mother in law countered that she would easily fit in for a permanent servant and should be treated so as her son is not earning much and managing his family is her burden.
Paru felt the earth below her shaking. She could feel the tremors in her body. She is a graduate with a gold medal and can any time get a decent job that would make her run her family. Her husband’s small business and its dependent hassles is not her share of trouble. She can take care of her children and herself without depending on any body. Within a week of that over heard conversation, Paru was ready with her afternoon meal and bag to her office. Her mother-in-law was furious that she is losing control on this woman. However, she did not stop Paru from going to work as it would mean extra money to the family. After three months, Paru realized that her hard earned money is smartly and slowly being pushed to the joint expenses of the family. She could not save anything nor spend on her own needs. That’s when she realized that she had to move out of this joint family system.
After weeks of deliberate discussions, her husband finally agreed to her decision. The information to his parents went slow and firm. He expected their reactions. Communication grew into arguments and an ever lasting debate. Arguments became abuses on either side. He requested his parents if he can take up another portion of the house in the first floor and live separately with his wife and children and at the same in the vicinity of his parents. Parents started to abuse him saying that he is playing to the tunes of his working wife. Paru interfered saying that her husband also can think on his own on what would work for his family. Immediately her mother in law jumped with a new tactic. They demanded the rent that the current tenant has been paying to them. Paru got wild. She kept the cards straight saying that there is no income coming out from her husband’s business and it is her hard earned money which is running the household expenses and raising costs of meting children’s medical and education expenses.
Mother-in-law was quick to respond. She shouted at Paru saying that she can as well leave her husband and go, if she thinks that he is of no use. Paru was taken back. She loved her husband irrespective of his limitations and what he is capable of and what not. Instead of empathizing with her situation, mother-in-law makes her life miserable at every turn in life. Paru was in tears. Her brain stopped working and she was pushed to be the wolf that she is not. Her caring, sympathetic, affectionate wolf went into hiding and her ego was deeply hurt. Her self respect was pushed to the drains. She took the sacred yellow thread and put it in her father-in-laws hands saying that it is end of her story in that household. She rushed to her bedroom and closed the doors. She did not want to cry in front of every one in that house and wanted to weep herself out in silence and loneliness.
It was 30 minutes past 10; her husband came to their room and started to plead her to calm down. She dragged her children and moved to the small living room adjacent to the bedroom and put the mats and quilts and made her children sleep with her on the floor. Her husband felt helpless. He went inside the bed room and kept the door open and fell asleep.
Past 2 am, Paru woke up with a shock. Her night dress caught fire and the fire engulfed the whole room and was like whirlwind till the fan. She shouted in distress and pushed her children out of the mats which caught the fire. Children woke up in half sleep and started to cry. Her husband from the bedroom pulled the blanket and covered Paru quickly stopping the fire engulfing the night dress. He stopped the fan and made the mats to fold and burning blanket was thrown aside. By the time, rest of the people in the house came rushing from other rooms
They realized that a petrol dipped shirt was rounded to a stick and was pushed from the window to the mats where Paru and her children were sleeping. It was an intentional attempt to kill her. Paru was still in shock. She could not speak. Her brother in law called the police and then they took her to the near by hospital for first aid.
Early morning around 4 am, police came to the scene. As usual, slowly and after all the drama was over. They enquired Paru from several angles. She kept quite. She did not reveal the previous night domestic quarrel. She did not utter a word against any one in that household. She had the highest respect for her husband and any kind of words against any one in the family would ruin her relationship with him. To her, at that moment, he was important than any thing else. It is him, who saved her life and acted on time to rescue her from the fire spreading all around. She is always indebted to him for this. He was the one who saved her and her children from the clutches of death. A small fire can destroy the whole forest. An intentional endeavor of someone went futile as her caring husband acted on time.
The next day, Paru’s friends and parents rushed to her side. She hugged them in tears. She took her children, their important stuff and clothes and went off with her parents to her parental home. Her husband neither stopped her nor accompanied her. He stood silently as the taxi that took her away from the house turned the street corner and disappeared.
Yes, Paru is now alone with her children. In a house she built for herself. She is free from the clutches of relationships that entangled her and suffocated her. She is now free from the thoughts that surrounded the insecurities of life. She was sure one day her husband would come back to her and live along with her and her children. She now has all the time in the world to smile and play with her kids. She can teach them, tell stories and take them out. She no longer needs to spend all her timing cooking for a dozen people at home. She can make simple food for them or at times eat out. She got time to read books, take up to paintings in the weekends and enjoy her time with friends. She is no longer dictated by her wimpy mother-in-law. She is no longer engaged in useless gossip with other ladies in the house. She now has a home of her own.
Yes, she has her own Life. Life regained from the fire that engulfed her. Making her become a new You!