It was Tuesday. Avi and Arti were caught up in the morning rush to get to work.
Both worked in the same building and traveled together every weekday. Inside the kitchen, Avi’s 70-something mother was busy muttering her usual chant, mostly directed at her daughter-in-law Arti.
Married life is not a child’s play. You are taking it very easy. You don’t know how much effort we took in our days to save money for our family. We did all household work, cooked and cleaned until nightfall. Today, no one wants to work hard. Women today don’t even know how to make a decent Baingan Bharta after five years of married life!
Arti looked at Avi. And as always, Avi felt caught right in the middle of the sarcastic battle storm between his mother and his wife.
As the voice from the kitchen went on, Avi could see his wife getting more and more upset, and visibly so. But what could he do? How could he explain to his mother, who had never worked, the travails of a working woman? How could he tell her that it was not important for him neither Arti that she cook for them? For that was certainly not why he married her.
Arti was a brilliant girl. She worked as a chartered accountant with a reputed city firm. Her ambitious and dynamic nature made her always ready to take on new challenges. She loved her work and was really good at what she did. But the kitchen was not her favorite place. She hardly knew how to cook when she came into this family, and most of it was because cooking didn’t really interest her.
But Avi’s mother never accepted this. For her, the daughter-in-law she got was flawed, imperfect and not something to be talking about to anyone.
As Avi walked out of the bathroom, her mother greeted him with a frown.
The queen has left early it seems. Now you will have to go to work alone. Huh, what attitude!
It’s okay Ma. Do you want to go to the temple today? I can take you since now I have some time.
They reached the station within 10 minutes. But the bustling morning traffic at the famed Mumbai metro meant that it was really tough to catch the train. After several attempts, Avi’s mother burst out in frustration…
This is beyond me, I cannot do this, you go on. I cannot catch the train in so much rush.
Ma, now you see why Arti preferred leaving early? If she waited for cooking food, she would be late, and she wouldn’t be able to reach work on time. And besides, why does it matter if she doesn’t want to cook?
Avi’s mother looked at him, slightly bewildered. What her son was saying was so different from what she believed. And yet, somehow, somewhere, it resonated with her. And a little something changed inside of her.