Good Reads: Chandausi Junction- Sakhi-Saheli
Six months into her marriage, Mansi had now fully adjusted to her new home. Staying with her husband, Ujjwal; mother-in-law, Sarla, and father-in-law, Abhishek, she was leading a happy married life. On an afternoon in May, the phone bell rang. Sarla picked up the phone. She excitedly spoke with the caller for around 15 minutes, which was unusual, as most of the phone calls would always be coming for the menfolk of the home.
Sometimes, Mansi would ask Ujjwal to book a trunk call for her parents’ place and she would be speaking for some time. But this was the first occasion that Mansi has seen her mother-in-law receiving a call and chatting for so long. When the call ended, Mansi asked “Whose call was it, Mummyji?” “Arrey, my school class fellow, Usha was there. Her parents’ place is also in this town and she comes every year to meet them.”
“Your school-mate Mummyji.” Mansi almost shouted in excitement “When are you going to meet her?” “How can I go? She comes here every year, but there’s no way I can go to meet her. So much of work is at home. Sometimes, if she comes to my place, then we meet, otherwise my going to meet her is out of the question.” answered Sarla.
Mansi looked at her mother-in-law and saw the pain in her eyes, which she was trying to hide, in vain. She said, “Mummyji, this time, let’s plan that both of us will go and meet Usha Aunty.”
Sarla took a deep breath and replied “Let’s see. Let’s first take care of the achaar (pickle) which we have kept out for drying.” Both the ladies got busy with the daily household work, but Mansi couldn’t take her mind off the monotonous life being led by her mother-in-law. “In the Mandir Wali Gali, many of my school friends’ parents live.” said Sarla while working “Every year, some of them visit Rishikesh to meet their parents. They keep on calling me, but I am not able to go, due to some work or the other.”
“Don’t you feel like meeting them?” asked Mansi. “Earlier on, kids were small, so the entire day used to be spent looking after them and the home.” replied Sarla “Now I feel, why go after so many years. What’s there in all these meetings? We are grown-ups, not children.” Mansi felt sad for this lady. Had it been her own mother, she would have hugged her, but she only kept her hand on Sarla’s hand and said “Mummyji, this time we will certainly go. Let’s plan a visit tomorrow.” Sarla smiled and said, “Let me talk to your father-in-law.” Mansi kept quiet and both of them got busy with the household chores.
The next day, after their husbands left for their offices, Mansi asked Sarla “When are we going Mummyji?” Sarla looked at Mansi and said “We are not going. Ujjwal’s father says that there is no point in going out and meeting age-old friends.” Mansi was shocked. She couldn’t understand as to what was so wrong for the lady of the house to go out and meet her old friends, but she kept quiet.
That evening, after the dinner, Mansi spoke with Ujjwal “I need to discuss something with you……...
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- Written by Shankar Sahay & Preeti Sahay