Space – Part – 2 – Muse India the literary e-journal, 7 Sept. 2021

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Space – Part: 2

“Her husband also does not support her. She feels isolated there. No one speaks to her, they all behave as if she does not exist there”, saying all this granny wiped her tears.

“Father was not informed all this. His health may deteriorate further. He will understand seeing her presence and behaviour here”, granny used to mention with tearful eyes.

 She cried profusely narrating her experience…Mom, there is no one with whom I can share my mind. Till marriage, all of you pampered me so much. My wish used to be a command here. My friend Veena did not leave me a minute. My friendly chats used to be my breath. Now, day and night are the same. No one speaks to me. No need to utter a word nor any opportunity to say something”.

Dad used to look away helplessly, unable to see granny’s tears.

Seeing all this when I used to sit motionless, even after finishing my lunch, mom used to take me away from the scene and help me wash my hands in the backyard. These memories cause heart burn to me.

Purna aunt used to face a lot of humiliation in that household because she could not bear any child. Grandparents used to understand her plight there but used to send her again and again. No one could heal her mental anguish.  She vanished from this world at a very early age going back and forth between parental home and marital home.  I sweat reliving all those bitter memories about my aunt even in this pleasant weather.

I boarded the bus and sat observing all the known surroundings and the new changes that are taking place on daily basis. People are waiting on the road for the bus to avoid puddles at the bus stop. During half an hour of my journey, the traffic gathered momentum. New model bikes are zipping away freely like flies even in that traffic.

Why this word “freedom” is lingering in my mind since morning?

Purna aunt used to crave so much for freedom throughout her life. The same freedom is coined as “space” by this generation. What did Nitya say the other day, ‘’Ask your son-in-law to give me space and respect me. I can’t compromise on my space.”

Two months ago, when Murali was away on official tour I probed Nitya, “What’s the matter?”

“You pushed me into marriage and none of my friends is married to this day. I have a three-year-old daughter”, she walked away with contempt without giving any chance to further conversation. I did not raise the matter again.

I don’t know what son-in-law, Sriram’s complaints are! Not sure whether his parents are observing all this? Anyway, how do they know, they live far away. We are not able to question her though she is in front of us. Really, their lives are very intriguing!

It was a holiday. Sriram visited in the evening. Seeing him getting down from the car, Sanju went running calling out her daddy excitedly. Sanju sat on his lap asking him a host of questions, he was answering unmindfully. I offered him water and coffee, talked this and that, and went inside on the pretext of calling Nitya. She did not come out on her own though she was aware of Sriram’s presence. She came out probably thinking what I would say, but buried herself in WhatsApp chats and phone. She did not look at him nor did she greet him hello. What is this?! He was also busy looking into his phone.

I did not notice when the little one slipped away from his lap and got immersed in her play. I stepped out for a stroll in the park. I felt a vague restlessness! He visited for the first time in four months after Nitya returned here. Do they have any phone communications, at least? What to do with these children? Sriram left as gruffly as he came.

That night when I reported how Nitya and Sriram behaved, Murali seemed to support their behaviour. 

He said, ‘’People get accustomed to this kind of life. They don’t need anyone’s company. Last time when I went on deputation, you don’t believe, my colleague Krishna did not speak a word in those two days—neither in travel nor during our stay there. He was always with his phone when he was awake. He is not an adolescent, will be retiring in four years!! By the way, with whom is he on phone the whole day?! He is a member in twenty group chats and an admin in four of them. I don’t know how he is working! As per him his wife always clung to the phone and internet. He is proud that his wife is very active in these matters. He also said that both of them switch off their phones by ten at night otherwise they don’t get rest.”

Uneasiness crept into my mind, hearing about Krishna.

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