“Oh, will you ever learn!!”, shouted Maa.
“Why are you always behind my back. Can’t you see I have just returned”, I fumed. Irritated I banged the door as I entered my room. I could hear her blabbering, I changed and went to the balcony of my room. I silently thanked god, for having a balcony attached to my room. It is funny how inconsequential things can seem to be such a boon at times. The balcony had become the de-stress corner. I retreated there when I wanted to shut out all the negativity or when I wanted to be alone. Now if I think, I am always in the balcony. Evening tea, morning snacks, reading newspaper, reading books, preparing presentations or simply talking on phone. Oh, don’t worry, my life is not that sad after all.
I went back to the bedroom to check if Maa is still screaming. I could not hear her voice. ” Hmm, she seems to be upset. She went silent so soon. Calm before the storm”, echoed my heart. This was the usual routine with Maa. Few days she was extremely nice to me, few days she was ignoring me, few days she picked up fights with me hoping against hope that I won’t retaliate. Then occasionally, she sulked for a day or two. She needed attention and apologies, which I refuse to part with. After waiting for a while and realizing I am not budging, she pours her heart out to Sandeep, my husband and her beloved son. Today looked like she is going to sulk. I was happy, since that means two days of complete peace. I went out and started humming. She gave me an angry glance and went to her room. Oh, why does the heart have to sing when its happy, I thought. She will complain about this too. I picked up the paper and went to the balcony.
I looked at the watch and it was 8.30.I looked at my phone and saw no messages or missed call from my hubby. Wondering why is he late, I picked up my phone and walked out of the balcony. As soon as I opened my bedroom door, I could hear Sandeep and Maa talking.” When did he come. Why did not I hear the bell. And Maa is not sulking means she is complaining. Oh Lord, not today. It is not even 2 hours of sulking, how come she changed her routine.” I cursed myself for being so engrossed as to not even realizing when did Sandeep come. One more point for Maa to complaint against me.
I could hear faint voices. I couldn’t understand what were they talking about. As soon as I entered, they stopped talking and there was a pin drop silence. They both looked at me. I could see tears in Maa’s eyes and a blank expression in Sandeep’s eyes. I was trying to gauge from his expression as to what had transpired. With my expressions, I tried to convey him that I had done nothing wrong to cause Maa so much grief that she had to cry. It seemed like an eternity and no one spoke. I couldn’t handle the silence anymore.
I screamed,” Will anyone tell me, what is happening. Maa, I did not say a word to you. What did you tell him? Why are you crying?”.
Sandeep banged his head with his hand. Maa blurted out,” See son, saw her behavior. I told you”.
Before Maa could complete his sentence, Sandeep said,” Maa, she is your image. She is as headstrong as you. And you know she doesn’t mean any ill. You both do not know how to control your anger. Either you both go completely silent and retreat to your respective balconies or fight it out like cat and mouse. I have never seen a weird mother-daughter relation. Why can’t you both talk like a normal mother-daughter.”
I jumped in said,” Because she considers you her son and behaves like a dominating mother-in-law”.
Immediately Maa retorted, “You are simply jealous. Don’t blame him.” All of us fell silent for a moment. And then in chorus both Maa and Sandeep started laughing.
I felt a pang of jealousy and then relief took over me. Looking at them, my mind wandered 6 years back. I looked at a hesitant Maa, a nervous Sandeep and a headstrong me. We moved in together in this house. Initially it was me, my mother (Sandeep’s mother in law) and Sandeep (my husband and her son in law). But when did it changed to me, my & Sandeeps mother and Sandeep (my husband and her son) I did not realize. The journey from in-law to family had been beautiful with its share of ups and down. As, I said before, my life is not sad after all. And I started humming again.