The clock stuck 10 and Shreya got nervous as hell. She had been in this dire straits since her return from Lucknow couple of hours back. Pacing through the length and breadth of her opulent living room anxiously, she was fabricating stories in her fertile mind to explain her Lucknow visit to Sharad upon his return from an overseas trip tonight.
Cursing her bad luck, she was ruminating over her misfortune. “If only I had moved out few minutes earlier, I wouldn’t have to encounter Meethi Mousi at the mall entrance”.
Now, who would have thought someone as conservative as Meethi Mousi would travel 90 kms. from Kanpur to go shopping in Lucknow. Given the fact that she was the most malicious gossip monger in her husband’s family, Shreya dreaded the report she would give to Sharad about finding his wife in deep embrace of another man while he was out of town!
Flashback : Kay and Shreya were one of the seriously involved couples of the college .Most people thought this liaison would culminate into marriage. More than love, it was their deep friendship that made the relationship thrive. They not only complemented each other but also understood each other well. Kay went overseas to pursue his masters and their relationship met with the fate of many such long distance relationships. Shreya was married off to a successful business man Sharad right after college and they moved to Kanpur. Sharad’s parents were no more but the extended family lived in and around Kanpur. The shock of living in a smaller town after her metropolitan rearing was eased out during the first year of their wedded life through Sharad’s love and support. Sharad was a caring and understanding husband. A good husband but Sharad could never become a friend Shreya craved for in a strange territory.
Kay and Shreya were one of the seriously involved couples of the college. Most people thought this liaison would culminate into marriage. Kay went overseas to pursue his masters and their relationship met with the fate of many such long distance relationships. Shreya was married off to a successful business man Sharad right after college and they moved to Kanpur. Sharad’s parents were no more but some members of his extended family lived in and around Kanpur. The shock of living in a smaller town after her metropolitan rearing was eased out during the first year of their wedded life through Sharad’s love and support. Sharad was a caring and understanding husband. A good husband but Sharad could never become a friend Shreya craved for in a strange territory.
Sharad’s work entailed much of overseas traveling and though Shreya accompanied him on many trips, it still left her with ample amount of time in hand. Early in their marruage, Shreya realised Sharad’s discomfort of any kind of proximity of her with even his male friends. Their social sphere was made of local business community whom she politely endure during social gatherings and never beyond. Her other social connect was Sharad’s distant aunt, Meethi Mousi’s family who had lived in Kanpur all their lives. Shreya tried to be friends with Meethi mousi in the beginning but somehow, she couldn’t gel with her orthodox thoughts and hear endless gossip about her relatives and neighbors. Once Shreya overheard Mousi discussing Shreya’s extravagant lifestyle on phone with someone.Meethi realized soon she wasn’t very welcomed in Shreya’s house anymore.
With the passage of time, Shreya slowly became moody and restless. Sharad was worried about her but didn’t know the root cause of her discomfort. And one day, just from nowhere, Kay resurfaced Shreya’s life.
With ample time in hand, Shreya became increasingly involved in social networking sites and Kay found her on facebook one day. There weren’t any old sparks re-ignited between them but Shreya was happy to have her best friend back in life, albeit only online. He was also her gateway to the World that she longed to beloing to. Living in New York and working for a giant corporate, Kay would tell her real time stories with stuff blockbusters were made of. He would make her laugh and share thoughts to ponder upon.She looked forward to their everyday chats. She was smiling again and Sharad noticed it too. Narrating the instances to Sharad,she would quote the source as her old friends from school and college that she met online He was reassured and relieved to see his vivacious wife glowing again.
Kay was traveling to India and happened to be in Lucknow for couple of days. Since Sharad was out of town, Shreya decided to take a taxi to Lucknow to meet Kay. They hugged warmly when they met. Kay looked just the same but he said Shreya looked beautiful than ever. Time flew and Shreya didn’t realize it was already 5 PM . “I must go now Kay but I am so happy for you. Good luck with your next meeting ” she exclaimed and gave him a warm hug before parting ways. As she turned around to head towards the exit, she spotted Meethi Mousi standing in the lobby of the mall. Their eyes met quickly as Shreya hurriedly made an exit and though she felt mousi was trying to say something from behind, she gave a cursory nod and rushed out saying that she has a train to catch.
Shreya was absolutely sure that Mousi saw her hugging Kay. Even though she was not guilty at heart, thought that Sharad may interpret it otherwise was making her very nervous. She loved her husband and didn’t want any doubt to wreck the trust they shared. Sharad wasn’t aware of Shreya’s past.
The door bell rang. Shreya’s heart sank.”Is Sharad back already? “She thought and opened the door.
She was surprised to see Meethi Mousi standing at the door. Her face went ashen .” Oh God ! “ Shreya thought “ The tyrant couldn’t even wait till morning to tell Sharad about this evening’s discovery “.
“Can I come in Bahurani? “she pleaded. Shreya was still ascertaining reason behind her nocturnal visit when mousi quietly moved in and sat on the sofa. “Sharad’s not home yet “.Shreya said coldly.
“ I know bahu, can I have a glass of water ?”
After gulping down cold water,Mousi spoke slowly.
“ Bahurani,I have come to meet you . I am in a dilemma and was wondering if you can help me with this predicament .You are from a big city,I thought you can help me “.
Shreya looked on as Mousi continued.
“You know Bahu, my daughter Tejasvani is 24 years old now and we have been looking for a suitable match for her for a while. Last month, she told us about a boy she met on the internet a year back and was interested in getting married to.It really shocked us ,what would people say, I was so ashamed but what can one do in front of the happiness of one’s children. I had no option but to relent to her demands. The boy is based overseas and was in Lucknow for couple of days. I had gone to the mall to see him when I spotted him talking to and hugging a woman before I met him. ” Sheya’s heart sank and she slouched on the sofa.
Mousi continued “ Now, unfortunately, I forgot to carry my glasses today and from a distance I could not see who the woman was. Then I saw you moving out of the mall and wanted you to accompany me to meet the boy and give your opinion but you were in a great hurry to catch the train. Now, I am also coming straight from the station after meeting the boy.”
After a brief pause, she continued“You see bahu, I really liked the boy and think he would make a good husband for my Teji but tell me, how can I swallow a living fly. I am wondering who that woman was and what was she doing in with Kailash, Oh, by the way, the boy’s name is Kailash,he was saying everyone calls him Kay. “Mousi said sadly. “
“Mousi ji “, Shreya said looking into Meethi’s eyes. “ Sometimes, what we see could be misleading. If this incident is bothering you so much, you can ask Kailash about the girl when you see him again tomorrow. Now, I can’t say for sure how someone bred in a Metro and living overseas may react to his prospective mother in law spying on him even before meeting him but you must clear your heart before giving your approval for this match.”
She continued “Now if you ask me, it is customary and quite acceptable in bigger towns to meet and hug friends or relatives of opposite gender while greeting them or bidding them good-bye. It is perfectly acceptable. So, please do not read too much into it. If you wish, I can also meet the boy and give you my opinion about him. And I recommend strongly, if you think he is good, then you shouldn’t let him go. “ Said Shreya while making a mental note to update Kay about this conversation.
Shreya was excited to know that Teji was Tess Kay kept talking about all this morning. Fee happy for Kay and relieved that Mousi hadn’t made a mess out of the whole situation. Though he would have to bear with this tyrant as his mum- in- law all his life, the solace was in the fact that Teji would make a good companion fo Kay.
And she thanked God Mousi had forgotten her glasses home.
“Thank you beta, you helped me a lot in getting out of this dilemma “Mousi said while hugging Shreya warmly. Shreya smiled .
Perhaps someday, I could tell her the woman hugging Kay was me but not today, she may not understand. Hmm, she may not be as bad as I thought.While bidding good bye to Mousi, Shreya made another mental note about mentioning her college friend Kay to Sharad and her classified meeting with him to discuss his wedding prospect with Tejasvini and the fact that she did not share this with mousi due to her obvious orthodox thoughts.
Her smile resurfaced as she logged in to chat with Kay and update him on what happened just now.
Mousi too had a wide smile on her face when she moved out of Shreya’s house. All her doubts were put to rest.
She took out her glasses from her purse and wiped them before wearing them to catch the last bus back home.
Both, Mousi and Shreya may have been Infidel to the societal norms but was it not part of an quest to bring a balance between their desires and established norms ?
In this case,both the belief and desire won or had the battle just begun?