By Sumeetha Manikandan,
Special to The Post
These days, I almost felt sorry for Ashok. Ever since my mother-in-law arrived, all that she had done was cook for him and he had no choice but to eat.
“Just one more puri. Try this chutney. Nithya bring that tomato chutney for him to taste.”
Ashok made a face and waited patiently while I searched through the bottles of chutney and pickles that she brought with her from India. Dripping in oil, the chutney bottle was swaddled in two aavin plastic covers. I took out a spoon and put some chutney in his plate.
“Today I am making usili, kadamba sambar, applam and lime rasam. All your favorites. You must come home for dinner today.”
I knew that he wouldn’t come home any sooner than eleven. He had been escaping to office earlier than usual every day and returning late at night. With his temper at an all-time high, it was difficult to be with him, let alone talk to him.
My situation was far worse. This time around, her visit to the US was undertaken solely to check whether we were leading a normal married life or not. The second purpose was to give me more gyan about how to become pregnant and how I was ruining Ashok’s life by not becoming pregnant immediately.
As to the first, there was no problem in pretending that we were a normal married couple. Ashok was rarely home in any case. The only awkwardness was when we had to sleep together in the same bed. Thankfully, the bed was very big and I slept in one corner and he on the other. And thanks to Diana, I had four to five hours of respite from home during the day.
While I was clearing the breakfast items, she started off on her pet project.
“Last month, I ran into that girl Deepa whom we had seen for Ashok. She got married two months ago and she is pregnant already. God knows what sins I have committed to be saddled with a daughter-in-law like you. Next month when I go back to India you are coming with me and we are getting a check-up done. If there is a problem with you then I must find out. My friend’s sambandi is a gynecologist. She is also a very good doctor. We need to do a scan and find out whether there is a problem…”
I resolutely refused to look towards her or even to react to her statements. But I could feel her eyes on my stomach.
I tried to talk to Ashok about the impending medical test that she might force me to have. I told him while we were in bed.
“Ashok, I need to talk to you about something.”
“Your mother is pestering me to get a medical check-up done. I have given her many reasons why we don’t want kids right now. She is not listening. Can you speak to her and tell her that for the next two years you don’t want kids?”
“It’s just a medical check-up. What are you scared of? Why are you pestering me? I don’t want to talk to her about this. Just leave me alone.”
I bit my lip to fight back the tears but they just rolled down. I felt trapped in a situation where the walls were closing on me from all directions.
“You don’t understand Ashok. Please try to understand…I…”
He tore at his hair and screamed, “Oh God! I am going to kill that guy the minute I land in India next time. He sent her here deliberately to mess with my life. Okay, I will talk to her.” He turned away to sleep.
About the Author:
Sumeetha Manikandan is a freelance content writer. She wrote her debut novel, ‘The Perfect Groom” as a script for a TV serial. Set against the backdrop of Mylapore’s Brahmin community, she sketches many larger-than-life characters in this novella that will capture your imagination.
This story is a excerpt from Indireads. This fictional series offers a wide wide range of romance novellas written by both men and women, for South Asian readers around the world. Read more at www.indireads.com.