Peace of mind

That’s what Prat­i­bha needed.

Woman's Era - - Short Story - By Vi­jay­laxmi Sarmah

rat­i­bha Devi was sit­ting on the bed in her small room, when her daugh­ter-in-law Mala came in with her evening tea – a plate of co­conut ladoos and a mug of hot tea car­ry­ing it on a wooden tray. She put the tray on the bed­side cof­fee ta­ble. “Please have your tea, ma,” she told Prat­i­bha Devi. Prat­i­bha Devi couldn’t stand the sight of Mala, she looked at the tea tray with dis­dain. She de­cided to make some snide re­marks at Mala, “Ladoos, is this the way one make ladoos – no shape no size? No­body knows how it would taste. Didn’t your mother teach you how to make some sim­ple ladoos? And look at the colour of tea, it looks black like poi­son. I know that is what you have made. These are poi­sons. You want to kill me, don’t you?” Prat­i­bha al­most shouted.

kept quiet and did not say a word. She knew her mother-in-law only needed some ex­cuse to fight with her. So with­out ut­ter­ing a word Mala made her exit from the room. Prat­i­bha Devi’s ego was de­feated. She thought Mala would an­swer her back. She wanted Mala to say some­thing, but her daugh­ter-in-law did noth­ing of that and this made Prat­i­bha more an­gry. Prat­i­bha Devi hated her daugh­ter-in-law. She thought it was due to her that her son did not love her any­more. Mala had en­ticed her hus­band against his mother. “He was a good son once, not any­more. It is all due to his witch of a wife. She is an en­chantress. She had taken my in­no­cent son away from me”, she would la­ment day in and day out. She would la­ment at her fate. She would curse her life, she would curse her daugh­terin-law. She thought there was no one on this Earth as un­happy as her. “O, good­ness, why don’t you kill me?” Why do I have to live such a mis­er­able life?” She

Mala kept quiet and did not say a word. She knew her mother- in- law only needed some ex­cuse to fight with her. So with­out ut­ter­ing a word Mala made her exit from the room. Prat­i­bha Devi’s ego was de­feated. She thought Mala would an­swer her back. Prat­i­bha Devi was sit­ting on the bed in her small room, when her daugh­ter-in­law Mala came in with her evening tea – a plate of co­conut ladoos and a mug of hot tea car­ry­ing it on a wooden tray. She put the tray on the bed­side cof­fee ta­ble. “Please have your tea, ma,” she told Prat­i­bha Devi.

would keep com­plain­ing all the time. She was al­ways un­happy, al­ways mis­er­able. If a world rank­ing of the most mis­er­able and un­sat­is­fied per­sons on Earth was con­ducted, Prat­i­bha Devi would top the list. She was un­happy, un­sat­is­fied, mis­er­able and quar­rel­some – the epit­ome of neg­a­tiv­ity.

Prat­i­bha pushed away the tea tray. “You think I am go­ing to eat these poi­sons?” she mut­tered. She fumed with anger. She got down from her bed, went near the door and started abus­ing Mala – rais­ing her voice as much as she could, but there was no re­sponse from Mala till Prat­i­bha Devi’s mouth pained from shout­ing. She de­cided to visit her aunt Janki who lived next door. Janki was the only per­son that Prat­i­bha Devi liked be­ing close to. Janki was a cheer­ful woman and like Prat­i­bha Devi, she too lived with her son and daugh­terin-law.

Devi did not want to tell Mala that she would visit Janki. She tip- toed as qui­etly as she could, closed the door of her room and went out. She went out like a hag­gard beg­gar woman as a woman in great dis­tress. She also did not bother to change her torn sari into a more de­cent one.

Janki was sit­ting on the ve­ran­dah when a di­sheveled Prat­i­bha Devi came in. Janki was sur­prised to see her in such a state. How­ever, she smiled warmly and took her in­side the house. “Come, Prati, it’s so nice to see you,” she told her cor­dially.

“Aren’t you keep­ing well?”janki en­quired, once both the women set­tled com­fort­ably in­side the liv­ing room.

“Don’t ask me Jankibua. I am re­ally sad. My son and daugh­ter-in-law do not treat me well. Tell me how can any mother be happy when her own son treats her badly?” Prat­i­bha Devi then be­gan her tale of la­men­ta­tion and grudges. She told about her sad­ness and mis­for­tunes. She com­plained about her daugh­ter-in-law not treat­ing her well, of her son ne­glect­ing her. She also told Janki of her want­ing to die as she had no in­ter­est in liv­ing. “It is bet­ter to die then live a dog’s life. They also want me to die, they do not love me, they do not re­spect me. I am very sad, Jankibua.” Prat­i­bha Devi told her aunt and though she was five years younger than Janki, she looked much older.

Janki lis­tened to Prat­i­bha’s rant­ing – the same old mis­er­able story of hers that she had told many times be­fore. Janki knew about Prat­i­bha – a woman never happy, never con­tent, never sat­is­fied. Un­like Prat­i­bha, Janki was a happy per­son and con­tent with life. She did her work her­self, took care of her health, liked to dress up well and main­tained an ac­tive so­cial life and looked years younger than her ac­tual age.

daugh­ter-in-law, Pa­pori, came in as Prat­i­bha Devi was re­count­ing her sad sto­ries. See­ing Prat­i­bha, she touched her feet like a good tra­di­tional In­dian ‘ bahu’. Prat­i­bha Devi blessed her. She looked at

Woman’s Era March (Se­cond) 2018 ● mar­kets and bazaar. She had taken my son away from me. I hope she too suf­fers the same fate one day.” Prat­i­bha Devi again lamented. She went on re­peat­ing the same things – com­plain­ing and grudg­ing and blam­ing her daugh­terin-law for all the mis­eries of her life.

“The day she had en­tered my house, she had made my life hell.”

was weary of hear­ing the same sad sto­ries of Prat­i­bha Devi. How­ever, she kept quiet and did not want to hurt her. She only prayed that good sense pre­vailed upon Prat­i­bha and she stopped la­ment­ing all the time. Janki’s daugh­ter-in-law came in again and whis­pered some­thing in her ears. Janki nod­ded her head and smiled. She then ex­cused her­self from Prat­i­bha Devi and went in­side to the kitchen. She was greatly re­lieved to get away from her as Prat­i­bha talked of noth­ing but only about her sad life.

“How nice both this mother-in-law and daugh­ter-in-law look. Who would not love a girl like Pa­pori? Jankibua is truly a blessed woman. If I too had a daugh­ter-in-law like hers. ”Prat­i­bha Devi thought sadly.

A lit­tle later Janki came out from the kitchen fol­lowed by Pa­pori car­ry­ing a tea tray grace­fully. Pa­pori placed the tray on the cen­tre ta­ble.

“Please, have some tea, aunty,” she said sweetly. Prat­i­bha Devi saw Pa­pori too had brought ladoos with the tea. How­ever, un­like the shape­less ladoos which were brought by her

daugh­ter-in-law, Mala, these looked big, nice and round. The colour of the tea was also very nice. Prat­i­bha Devi had both the tea and the ladoos to her heart’s con­tent. “Your daugh­terin-law is in­deed a very grace­ful girl. She is truly a girl of val­ues. Not only is she beau­ti­ful, she is also ex­pert in house­hold work. How nicely she has made the ladoos. My stupid daugh­ter-in-law is good for noth­ing. She doesn’t even know how to make the tea. The ladoos she makes are shape­less. She is such a spoilt woman, Jankibua.”

smiled and then she de­cided to tell Prat­i­bha Devi, what she was plan­ning to say a long time.

“Prat­i­bha, I re­ally pity you. I pity you not for your un­hap­pi­ness but your ig­no­rance and ar­ro­gance.” Prat­i­bha Devi looked con­fus­edly at her bua.

“What do you mean, Jankibua?”

“I mean what I say. You are ig­no­rant and ar­ro­gant and self­ish. You do not love your son and daugh­ter-in­law be­cause you do not love your­self. How can you have peace in your life when you do not have peace in your mind? You want your son and daugh­ter-in-law to re­spect you when you don’t know how to re­spect your­self? You need to be pam­pered all the time. You are jeal­ous and self­ish. You want your son to be with you all the time. You are in­se­cure be­cause you are an at­ten­tion-seeker. You har­bour neg­a­tive thoughts all the time and so see your daugh­ter-in-law plot­ting to mur­der or poi­son you. These are all your whims to get sym­pa­thy.”

“No, Jankibua, she in­deed wants to kill me.”

“For­get it, Prat­i­bha. You didn’t have the tea and ladoos of­fered by your daugh­ter-in-law mak­ing all kinds of ex­cuses. You blamed the poor girl of want­ing to kill you. But did

Woman’s Era March (Se­cond) 2018 ● Learn new things. Change your­self with the change of times; oth­er­wise you will be left be­hind.”

“I am happy with my life be­cause I al­ways march along with time and try to keep up­dated with new knowl­edge and wis­dom. I do not in­ter­fere with my son’s or daugh­ter-in-law’s life. My daugh­ter-in-law is like my own daugh­ter – I let her have her own space. I never tell her what to do, what to wear, where to go. To tell you the truth, Prat­i­bha, Pa­pori had just wrapped around her sari over her jeans and top – just only to touch your feet. She is an ed­u­cated modern girl and knows ev­ery­thing best. If she does not know some­thing I teach her kindly. I never pres­sure her to fol­low any­thing. I lead my own life – read books, do yoga, and go for morn­ing and evening walks and take care of my plants. I have so much to do that I do not have time to think un­nec­es­sary things. This is the only life I have and of that more than half of it is al­ready over. I want to en­joy this one life I have to the fullest. This is how I find my peace of mind.”

words opened Prat­i­bha Devi’s eyes. It was in­deed her own evil thoughts that had rid­den her off her mind’s peace for which she was so mis­er­able.

“Thank you, Jankibua, I now re­alise that I was wrong and blamed my poor daugh­ter-in-law for my mis­eries. I know I can be happy only if I have hap­pi­ness in my mind’.

“For­get it, Prat­i­bha. You didn’t have the tea and ladoos of­fered by your daugh­ter-in-law mak­ing all kinds of ex­cuses. You blamed the poor girl of want­ing to kill you. But did you know that just now you had the same ladoos and same tea, which you had re­fused at your own house?”

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