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The Revolt

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“Sushila, do not cry anymore. You will go with your uncle to Mumbai and stay there. You know well that Auntie and Uncle love you very much. They will take care of you and you will not miss your parents.”

Sushila’s neighbouring grand old lady told her. Twelve-year-old Sushila was the sole survivor of the car accident when the family had gone on a vacation to a nearby hill station. The bright, intelligent Sushila had to shift to Mumbai with her uncle.

Sushila was performing well in the school where a free environment gave full scope to her abilities. Debates were her forte and she won many prizes in inter-school competitions. She was at the same time a good scorer in her studies. She passed out S.S.C. with top-ranking marks.

Her uncle admitted her to a college. That offered wings to Sushila. Not only in studies but in extracurricular activities too, Sushila excelled. She had won a few dance competitions. She became the college representative. She was popular among students and was liked by professors also.

When Sushila appeared for the final year of graduation, her uncle and auntie started their move for matchmaking.

Among many proposals, they chose a qualified engineer from their native place. Sushila saw the photograph of this young man. His manly personality had nothing to be unimpressive. Sushila’s affirmative nod ended in a grand wedding.

Shankaran, Sushila’s life partner, was an ambitious man. He with his collegemate from his village had got together and they had started a production unit just on the outskirts of Mumbai. So, Sushila did not have to leave Mumbai after marriage.

In a suburb of Mumbai, Sushila started her married life. Her tall, robust, life partner was loving and caring. Sushila’s new life was moving smoothly with Shankaran.

Very soon, they had two children, a son, Sammit, and a daughter, Nandini.

Sushila, who had an excellent social life before, now wanted to get involved in some activities beyond the kitchen and home.

Once in the afternoon, when Shankaran was at the factory, Sushila went to their neighbour. She wanted to be friends with the ladies of her age group. They had a nice meeting for a few hours. Before Shankaran returned, she was back in her kitchen.

When Shankaran arrived, immediately Sushila prepared tea for him. While Shankaran was sipping tea, Sushila said, ” Today, I went to our neighbour Mrs. Patil. She is a nice lady. We became good friends.”

Sushila looked at Shankaran. The person who used to usually give a smile at her had a frown on his face. Sushila was confused. The caring Shankaran did not show approval of her making friends with neighbours.

“Did I do something wrong?” Sushila wanted to know the reason for his dissatisfaction.

“Look Sushila, I don’t like a housewife to go around leaving her house. There are so many things to be done in the house. A wife has to take care of them. Isn’t it better to do housework than chat with other ladies?” Shankaran said.

Sushila was shocked. ‘Does it mean a wife has to be confined to four walls of the house? Don’t they want to have their own friends and share ideas?’ she thought.

“So, Sushila, don’t visit neighbours. Take care of the children and maintain the house. Don’t waste time gossiping.” Shankaran made his ideas very clear.

‘I completed my responsibilities and then only I went to neighbours. But still, he is unhappy over my meeting neighbours.’ Sushila was disappointed.

After a few days, the neighbour, Mrs.Patil came to Sushila and started talking about world affairs. Sushila realized talking to some friends, which she was missing for the last 5-6 years, gave her immense pleasure. Since Shankaran was not happy about her meeting the neighbours, she decided to not to disclose it to Shankaran.

Later on, she kept in touch with her neighbours without letting Shankaran know about it.

And once Shankaran reached home in the afternoon. To his dismay, the house was locked. He waited outside the flat. After an hour or so, Sushila returned home with both the children. She found Shankaran waiting outside the house. She quickly opened the door and said, “When did you come? Why did you not call me?”

Angry Shankaran did not respond. His face was showing that he was extremely unhappy over Sushila’s going to neighbours. After dinner, when the children were asleep, Sushila opened up the topic of her meeting with Mrs.Patil.

“Mrs. Patil was telling about a dance competition in our Municipal ward open to all age groups. Can I participate? After leaving college, I have never danced on stage. I am missing dancing very much. Shall I take part?” Sushila put a straight question to Shankaran.

Shankaran slapped Sushila.

“How dare you think of dancing in public? My wife is not a free property to be judged by the spectators. Nothing doing. You will not take part in any competition. Moreover, your meetings with Mrs.Patil should be stopped immediately. She is a bad lady. You should not have any contact with her,” ordered Shankaran.

“What has she done wrong that you stamped her as a bad lady? Is taking part in competitions wrong? Or organizing a Blood Donation camp a bad act? ” Sushila put the question to Shankaran.

“Don’t ask me questions. You should not meet with Mrs.Patil. That is my order. And you are going to obey it.” Shankaran was firm in his command.

“While selecting me as your wife, you had appreciated my winning medals in competitions. Why the objection now?” Sushila was not ready to accept his orders lying low.

“No arguments. My word is final,” said Shankaran.

“No. I am not going to stop meeting my friends. I am not doing anything wrong.”

Again, Shankaran raised his hand and slapped her.

Sushila was in tears.

“Sushila, I am warning you. Don’t ever think of stepping out of our house. Your task is to cook and bring up the children. That is my rule. Don’t think of breaking my commands. You will face severe consequences,” said Shankaran.

Sushila was extremely upset to hear such words from Shankaran.

‘Oh, God! Where am I landed? Does he consider me as a slave?’ Sushila was lost in thoughts.

To avoid further confrontations, Sushila decided to follow Shankaran’s orders. With a heavy heart, she packed up all her awards won during her college days and put them away, out of sight, in a suitcase. She decided to forget about her talents which had won many awards for her. She had closed that chapter of her life.

During the wedding celebrations of one of his relations, Sushila put on good clothes and had a few pieces of jewellery on her body. She looked gorgeous. Instead of appreciating his wife, he shouted at her.

“Whom do you want to impress by wearing such good clothes and displaying the jewellery? Nothing doing. Wear something simple and keep the ornaments in the safe.”

Sushila was extremely disappointed. She took off her jewellery and changed into simple clothes. She spent the entire night sobbing all alone.

Shankaran was doing very well in his business. He was getting good money.

One day Sushila opened out to Shankaran.

“You have been slogging day and night. Now, can we go out for a week to a resort and relax?” Sushila said.

“Why, are you bored of looking after the children? Are you tired of cooking day and night? “ Shankaran asked Sushila.

“Not me. I am extremely happy with my job.  But I was worried about you,” said Sushila.

“Don’t bother about me. I can take care of myself. But don’t impose your ideas about going on holidays on me under the pretext of caring about me. I am happy with my work.”

Sometime later, Sushila saw Mrs. Patil with her family going on holiday. She wondered what she had sinned that she was jailed in the four walls of the kitchen.

But Sushila focused on bringing up her children. They both had inherited Sushila’s intelligence. Both had started performing well in their studies as well as extracurricular activities.

And one day, Sushila was indisposed. She did not utter a word about it.

Shankaran noticed that Sushila was unwell.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you not your usual self?” He touched her forehead. “Oh! You are having a temperature. Take out the thermometer. I will measure your temperature.”

“Nothing much. Don’t worry,” said Sushila.

“Don’t lie. I can see you are not well. Get me the thermometer.”

Sushila got up and took out the thermometer from a drawer.

“Give it to me.” Shankaran measured the temperature. It was 102 degrees F.

“Now, Sushila, you take some rest. You lie down in bed. I will manage the kitchen. We will see the doctor at 10 in the morning.”

“You will be late for the factory. No need to see the doctor,” Sushila.

“Don’t tell me what I should do. Keep quiet. You lie down in the bed,” said Shankaran.

“And what about the factory?” Sushila said.

“Madam, I can take care of that. You are also my responsibility. Now, do as I tell you.” Shankaran insisted.

For the following 3-4 days, Shankaran took care of Sushila. Called the doctor to the house to examine Sushila. Monitored the temperature and took care of medicine dispensing at regular times. He also managed school timings for both children. He carried out his factory responsibility online.

“Now, madam, you are completely okay and fit. I will resume my factory duties. Take care. Don’t visit neighbours and waste your energy.”Shankaran left for the factory.

Sushila finished her breakfast prepared by Shankaran.

She was overwhelmed by his gesture of looking after her. How lovingly he treated her.

Then one day, the news of the demise of Mother Teressa hit the news channels. And Sushila found Shankaran extremely upset about it. With tears in his eyes, he said, “Good people are always liked by God. A lady from a far-off country came to India and she served our society wholeheartedly. Great soul!”

Sushila was surprised to see this aspect of Shankaran. She thought, ‘Shankaran is good at heart. But he is dominated by traditional thoughts. He just can not tolerate anything that goes beyond his line of thinking. But his heart is clean and soft. Otherwise, who would shed tears if a distant personality like Mother Teressa leaves this world?’

Sushila had accepted Shankaran’s line of thought. She kept herself away from going against his thinking.

The days passed. The children were growing up. They sparkled in their career.

After getting his B.Tech. degree from I.I.T. the son, Sammit wanted to go abroad for further studies. But as expected Shankaran opposed the idea.  He did not want his son to leave the country and go to another country for higher education.

But Sammit knew his future was in higher education in a developed country. They had very hot arguments. Sushila knew that Sammit was on the right path and she wanted to support him. At the same time, she knew that Shankaran’s conservative thinking was going to ruin his life. She did not support Shankaran though she did not oppose him openly. The son collected enough courage and despite opposition from his father, he boarded the plane going to the university of his choice. Sushila’s son was permanently separated from her due to Shankaran’s devout ideas.

After her post-graduation, many relatives along with Shankaran and Sushila were on the hunt for a groom for their smart daughter, Nandini. But Shankaran had a point to consider before going further. The horoscope of the daughter had Mangal in an unfavourable position. So,Shankaran was insisting on horoscope matching while going ahead with the matchmaking. When other matters were acceptable, Shankaran insisted on the other party also have Mangal in an appropriate position.  When the other side was not interested in matching the horoscopes, Shankaran was inflexible about matching the horoscopes. That resulted in many proposals getting rejected. That delayed finding a perfect match.

Sushila knew in her mind, that matching the horoscopes was not valid due to unreliable noting of the time of birth.But Shankaran had a fixed notion about the effects of Mangal in one’s life and the antidote to take care of that situation. She tried to convince Shankaran against matching the horoscopes. But uncompromising as Shankaran was, the horoscopes played an important role in looking for a match for their daughter.

They could not get a match for Nandini for a long.Then Sushila could not bear any more. She raised her voice.

“Do you want to ruin our daughter’s life? Forget about what the horoscope tells. Are you sure of the time of birth of our daughter was noted correctly? I remember, that day, it was raining heavily. The river near your house in the village was flooded. All the roads were submerged. No way to go to the hospital. And my delivery pains intensified. Your mother arranged for a neighbouring lady, a midwife who used to handle deliveries at home. You were trying to drive me to the hospital but that was impossible. And finally, I delivered under the supervision of that delivery expert lady. After 2-3 days, the floods receded and you drove me and the baby to the hospital. All the precautionary treatment was given after about fifty hours of actual delivery. Luckily, the child and I were okay. After three-four days, the birth of the baby girl was registered. Did anyone check what time was entered for the birth of baby? I don’t believe, the time was noted accurately. So, the horoscope can’t be relied upon. We followed it for a long. Now, I don’t want to look for horoscope matching. The recent proposal from my cousin is very good. The boy is excellent and he is not interested in matching horoscope. ” Sushila voiced her ideas.

“What do you mean? The Mangal in this position will kill her life partner if he does not have Mangal. Do you want to make our daughter a widow?” Shankaran said in a loud voice. “Nothing doing, I will not allow the marriage to be performed if horoscopes are not matched.”

“Enough is enough. We will perform the marriage if they approve each other without considering the horoscope.”

“Nothing doing. You can not do that.” Shankaran was firm.

But this time, Sushila had enough courage. She said, “ If you don’t agree, I will take our daughter to the registrar’s office and will get her married to the boy who will be ready to marry her without looking at the horoscopes”.

“I will not give permission.” Shankaran retorted.

Sushila was sure of her decision. She revolted against Shankaran.

“Whatever you want to do, you can act accordingly. I don’t care. I will not let my daughter’s life get spoiled.” Sushila was firm on her decision.

Shankaran picked up a briefcase with some clothes and left the house. He did not look behind.

Sushila was upset. She cried. But she did not go behind Shankaran. She had decided to ensure her daughter did not suffer for life as she herself had due to Shankaran’s conservative ideas.

She talked to the boy’s parents. They had liked Nandini as their daughter-in-law. Sushila along with a few relatives attended the marriage in the Registrar.


Image by ARC from Pixabay

Vijay Likhite

The author is a B.E. (Electronics) from Mumbai University in 1971. Owned a manufacturing unit. A few science and technology based articles in Marathi were published in Sunday Edition of local newspaper.

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