Peace of mind
That’s what Pratibha needed.
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?”