Rimi stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind her. She heard footsteps reaching the door and turned back to shout: ‘Don’t you dare follow me…. You are the sole reason for my sadness. I did a mistake marrying you.’ Prasun’s visage changed from a pursuing one to an extremely angry look. He just muttered ‘Fine’, turned back and went into the bedroom to close the door on Rimi. Momentarily, Rimi was a little scared at his expression. Did she hurt him a lot? She should not feel sorry. She did want to hurt him, only she had expected him to cajole her into changing her mood and dropping their quarrel.
In her fit of rage she had also forgotten that they were no longer staying alone. Her parents-in-laws were sleeping in the adjacent room. ‘Damn!’ she muttered under her breath. Why was she always expected to remember everything? For the last two hours she had been fighting incessantly with Prasun. There was actually no specific reason. They were married for just two years and love was very much evident between them. Then what was it? It was just that she was irritated…..she was irritated at the way the evening had shaped up…at the way she had thought that this get-together after their return from abroad would be celebrated by all. How naive of her…. She had been staying alone for too long and she craved family… it was she who forced Prasun to change his plans to get back home, because she felt that she was missing out on everything starting from the cousin’s marriages to the friends get-togethers and all the fun their relatives were having back at home. But the moment from when they had reached home, life was miserable. There were too many people around, and everyone had huge expectations from her! At least she thought they did!
Wiping away the tears stinging her face Rimi reached behind the kitchen counter to retrieve the pack of cigarettes she had hidden there after they had unpacked. She had all but completely forgotten about it, until now. There were a few left in the pack. She grabbed a match box and headed for the balcony. Closing the door behind her she huddled in a corner to light the cigarette. She took a long drag…it did not actually feel good but she felt in control. She was simply tired; she just sat there staring at the moonlit road below.
She thought to herself, what had she done…. What a fool she was…she had left her settled job, her known atmosphere and most importantly her independence and come back willingly to a prison house. Not that her in-laws were bad people. No they were not, they were all too supportive but sometimes support and love can become excessive… so much so that she felt suffocated. To top it all, the flow of relatives was non-stop…they were everywhere… and they had too many questions…. One aunt-in-law had also asked Rimi in the evening if she was pregnant and whether that was the real reason why they had returned. ‘What?’ was Rimi’s instant reaction at the question, the aunt-in-law backed up in time but Rimi’s evening was spoilt. Was that what everyone was thinking? While they were too happy with each other… they had not even given this idea a second thought.
‘Ouch..’ whispered Rimi as the cigarette stub burned her fingers. She lit another and kept staring at the moonlit road with these thoughts racing in her mind. She was tired now from the quarrel that she was having with Prasun and with the quarrel she was having with herself. She was even feeling suffocated at her mother’s behavior. Since they had reached India, her mother had been calling her everyday to enquire what was happening to her and how she was reacting to everything. She was enjoying these calls for the first few days but now she did not even pick up her call in the evening. Oh….she closed her eyes tightly to shut out these thoughts….Was the problem with the people around her or with her? Was she actually fickle-minded? She wondered how soon her euphoria of settling in India had waned out…. Every decision had its good and bad consequences… Was she not strong enough to stand by her decisions? She kicked herself mentally for living in her fantasy world and for behaving in the way she was. If there was anything in the world that she was absolutely sure about… it was her love for Prasun. And now she had so conveniently succeeded in hurting him. She was feeling scared of herself now.
Just then she heard a tap on the balcony door, which she had left half open. She did not stub out the cigarette thinking it must be Prasun. She kept sitting and pulled the door towards her with her feet to open it. Reena’s smiling face peeped in. Reena was Rimi’s mother-in-law. At once alarmed, Rimi tried to stub out the cigarette. ‘Oh…that’s not required…it’s absolutely fine with me’ said Reena at once. A little awkwardly Rimi held the cigarette between her fingers. Reena came in and sat on the floor opposite her. Looking directly at her daughter-in-law, she asked: ‘Can I borrow one?’ pointing at the half-burnt cigarette in Rimi’s hand. Too alarmed to respond she passed the pack to Reena. Reena smiled at her awkwardness and offered: ‘Why? Am I not young enough to smoke?’ a small smile crossed Rimi’s face. Reena kept the pack with her but did not light any.
She looked at Rimi to say: ‘You know that you are a very brave girl, right?’ Rimi was starting to say: ‘But..I..’ when she stopped her and said: ‘Let me finish…. You know you are very much like me, when I was young but I was not as brave as you. I could have never done what you have done for us. I could never leave my job and stay with my in-laws…. That was the reason why your father-in-law and I have fought all through our lives…. Prasun is our only son and I knew even I’m destined to the fate that I had written for my mother-in-law. She is dead now and I cannot go back and re-do what is already done but I cannot thank you enough for letting me and your father-in-law become a part of your lives. One day when you will be as old as I am, you will feel very proud of your decision. If today you do decide to stay away, remember that I will always support you in whatever decision you take; because I understand how difficult it must be for you. I see a part of a revised version of me in you. Just give yourself a little time…don’t be so hard on yourself’ saying so she squeezed Rimi’s hands lovingly. Of course….it was so simple. She needed time…Why didn’t she think of it earlier or why didn’t Prasun point this out to her? She was at once relieved to find a solution to her problem and smiled in response. ‘Thank you so much’ added Rimi, ‘Oh…don’t ever mention it’, added Reena smiling motherly. She quipped: ‘Let this be our little secret. You keep my secret and I will keep your cigarette pack!’ both of them shared a little laugh at that. Rimi felt the tension ease out of her, ‘It’s quite late… I think we must go to bed now’ offered Reena. Both of them got up and walked towards their bedrooms. Rimi was feeling happy and relaxed now and she whispered ‘Good Night!’ ‘A very good night and sweet dreams too’, answered Reena with a warm smile.
Entering, Rimi saw Prasun was fast asleep. She slowly slipped in beside him and hugged him tight from behind. Waking from his slumber, he asked: ‘What happened?’ and turned to face her. ‘I am so sorry, dear’ replied Rimi ‘I should’nt have said all that. I love you so much’ saying so, she cuddled up next to him. Content, Prasun hugged her back, closed his eyes and whispered in her ears: ‘Love you too!’