Kaushal was sitting in his room by the window sil, wondering what went wrong? He has not seen Nalini for last four months. She has left him and was staying at her parents place. Kaushal took his phone to message a close friend, he wanted to break the news of their separation.
Their four years of marriage was on the verge of ending. It seemed like yesterday, that they took their vows of marriage, and now all the vows seemed meaningless. He heard his mother calling him for breakfast and hurried downstairs. His mother was very strict lady. Her son was her only security. She had lost her husband when Kaushal very young. And since then, she had never let Kaushal out of her sight.
Sarala Devi, Kaushal’s mother was not a lady of good repute in her neighbourhood. There was not a single household in her vicinity with whom she has not had a brawl with. Her neighbours distanced themselves out of fear or unnecessary hassles. She had a sharp tongue which she had no control off. Kaushal grew up as a timid shy boy, who had no say of his own. All his decisions were taken by his mother. He was not one of those brilliant students or someone with extraordinary talents. He was an average mediocre types, who somehow managed to drag his way through graduation. After two years of struggle he finally did secure a job as a medical representative.
But his job made him move away from his hometown, from his mother. He would visit her once in the weekend. Staying away from his mother didn’t mean, he didn’t love her. He was a doting son, abiding by everything his mother said. But he loved his newly found freedom, his own space.
Sarala Devi wanted her son to get married, settle down. She took the liberty of choosing her would be daughter in law. And Kaushal meekly agreed to her decision. Nalini was four years younger to Kaushal. She belonged to a very poor family. Her father could barely afford the wedding. The neighbours were shocked hearing that Sarala Devi married her son into such a poor family. Some thought that old age has got her, some admired her for her generosity, some thought that she did it purposefully. Anyways, Nalini and Kaushal tied their knots to be united for the next seven lives. Sadly the ‘saath janmo ka rista’ ended in just 3.5 years.
Nalini excelled Kaushal in the timidity quotient. She obliged to all the orders of her mother in law. Kaushal was happy to be married. Now, instead of coming home every weekend, he started visiting his hometown whenever his work would permit. Amidst of his mother’s austerity, they wanted a life of their own. She wanted to stay with Kaushal, instead of meeting him once or twice a week. But her mother in law objected. She wanted Nalini to stay with her, as she would be creating a distraction in her son’s career. Nalini’s wishes were insignificant, as Kaushal wouldn’t utter a word in front of his mother.
As days passed by, Nalini got tired of adjusting to her new life. She came from a very poor family, but her family gave her freedom. She started missing her freedom. Sarala devi had cut her wings. She was tied to the household chores and criticism. She felt lonely, insecure. She had no friends, as her mother in law hardly allowed her to interact with the neighbours. They would poison her, make her a rebellion, ruin the mother in law-daughter in law relationship. Even watching TV was at her mother in laws discretion. Nalini was living in terror, one single mistake and her unsparing mother in law would give a theatrical performance of her annoyance. It was imperative on her part to adjust to everything Sarala devi desired. She was perturbed by her new life. Her palpitations would increase as soon as her mother in law entered the house.
She eagerly waited for Kaushal to come. He was her only consolation, a breath of fresh air. And once they met, they would spend hours in the room with each other. She would cry her heart out at times, looking for some consolation but all she received was a icy cold smile. Their wintry romance would cease as soon as Sarala Devi returned home from her Government job.
It took Nalini only a month’s time to realise that like her, Kaushal had no say, his mother’s word were the last. But she loved him and he loved her back. That was one thing that her mother in law had no control off. She had heard stories of the cruel mother in laws but she always shared the conviction, that she could win over anyone by her love and understanding. But she underestimated the insensibility of Sarala devi. She was one lady who couldn’t be pleased. Nalini worked by the clock. Toiled throughout the day, without a single word of appreciation, instead she was deluged with criticism, curses and allegations.
At times, she would cry, call up Kaushal to take her with him, or talk to his mother. But soon she realised that her words were just hitting the wall, no one was listening to her. Kaushal was aware of everything, but lacked the valour of fighting for the right. He wanted Nalini to adjust. And Nalini soon found that there was no end to adjustment. Her conformity was misunderstood for her weakness. Her submissiveness made her more vulnerable. She felt dejected and lost. Her whole world shrivelled. She stopped calling Kaushal. Her anguish kept on stabbing her. She cocooned herself. She no longer yearned for Kaushal’s next visit. Rather she wanted to shun him off. His presence made her uncomfortable. His existence in her life was now immaterial. Unknowingly with every visit, he would raise her expectations,(may be this time he will have the courage to confront his mother). But it never happened.
Finally, she gave up. She knew Kaushal was not the man. The timid Nalini, has now mustered courage. Courage to stand up to the right. Courage to start living her life. Courage to take her own decisions. Courage to end her marriage. Courage to go back to the shelter of her poor parents. Courage to loose everything and yet be happy.
Sarala Devi, wanted her son to be a married man, but never allowed him to become a husband. She expected a full time obedient maid in form of a daughter in law (Ideally, people with such mentality should hire a full time maid instead of getting their sons married).
Kaushal may get married in the near future. But will the fate of his second wife be any different from the first? Kaushal loved Nalini. But he didn’t respect her. He was unable to strike a balance between his mother and wife. Even after being married, he chose to be a mumma’s boy more than being a husband. Love for your mother should never be compromised, but what about the love for your wife? Should that be compromised?
When a girl gets married, she comes to her new house with lots of expectations and hopes. Her expectations from her husband is in no way different from her mother in laws expectations from her own husband. Then why should her expectations be shattered? Why should she fight for her place in the family? Why is she treated like an outsider and yet it is expected of her, to accept the new family as her own? Why is she expected to choose love over her self respect?
Isn’t it difficult to survive, when you fall in your own eyes??