Today also Madhuri found the door locked. She was happy to have finished her work at office early. She thought to have a little more time all to herself before her husband, Pankaj comes around 8 p.m. Although she does not have the duplicate key but she just wanted to take a chance in case her in laws are at home. Generally Pankaj picks her up from the office and together they come back home. Pankaj ’s parents quite often go out at this time just to trouble her at least she feels that way. Pankaj, a number of times told her to carry a duplicate key to the door but she refused on the ground that she does not want to enter the house alone. You never know what your parents are upto! Pankaj could not protest. He knows his parents very well. They can resort to any means to make Madhuri miserable.
When Madhuri came to this house, her in laws could not accept her. There was no ceremony, no sweets, no traditional lighting of lamps, no celebrations to welcome the daughter in law. That day is very vivid in her memory. How she can forget that. Pankaj’s father made a lot of grumbling and his mother cried as if her son were dead. Madhuri was dumb founded seeing all that being enacted before her eyes. She would not have troubled herself much if things settled down after the initial hiccups. But that didn’t happen. The tug of war continued. Some times she does feel frustrated and wanted to move out of her in laws house may be to a rented apartment. But the in laws behaviour has transformed her will into a resolute determination to give a bitter fight and she feels justice is on her side and no power on earth could take away her fundamental rights. She is legally married to Pankaj and she wants to see all her legal rights are respected. She feels for those girls who are subject to harassment by their in laws day in and day out. Are these in laws human beings? She doubts very much. In fact they are animals in human garb. A society which boasts of being progressive minded still burns, kills, harasses those hapless girls who do not have any one to defend. But this cruelty to human beings by human beings must end…
The calling bell rings. It must be Pankaj, Madhuri thought. The sound of the footsteps is well known to her.
“How long have you been waiting?” Pankaj enquired.
“Not much, for about half an hour”, Madhuri told him.
Pankaj opens the lock.
“Madhuri you change and come to the kitchen for cooking, in the meantime I will get ready with your cooking arrangement.” Pankaj suggested Madhuri. “You can finish your cooking before my mother comes back”
“Yes, that is a good idea”, Madhuri supported Pankaj. Other days Madhuri goes to
the kitchen after 10.00 p.m. by that time her mother-in-law would have finished her cooking. It takes about two hours to prepare breakfast, packed lunch and dinner. In the morning she hardly has any time. By 7.30 they will have breakfast, pack the lunch and by 8 they should be out on the street to be in office by 9 sharp. That evening Madhuri took a long time to cook. She prepared her favorite dish Rajma Chawal and paneer pakoda. By 10 they were in bed. Fortunately next day was Saturday, a holiday for both of them. Generally she goes off to her parent’s house and spend two days with her parents, sister and a brother. Pankaj also attends office on some pretext on Saturday and comes back early to Madhuri’s house and they enjoy the Sunday playing, gossiping, some times pay a visit to a theatre. Thus life goes on in spite of hiccups being experienced by them on the weekdays.
Madhuri feels happy at least when she thinks of Pankaj. He has been always helpful to her. There was no air conditioner in her room when she first came. She was just thinking of one such cooling machine, Pankaj got the AC installed the very next day. Another problem she faced was to commute to her office on Pankaj’s scooter. As a pillion rider she was not uncomfortable but the problem was how to avoid the sensuous looks of the people who would just stop their vehicle or motor cycle almost touching their scooter. Madhuri is aware that she has a healthy body and an attractive face so it is natural for people on the road to look at her sensually. Madhuri suggested Pankaj that they should own a car to avoid being exposed on scooter and as it is also accident prone. The next day they went to a Maruti dealer and firmed up a contract. Some how, she could not tell Pankaj the cause of her real concern.
She still wonders how a few months back a young man who was completely unknown has become the closest man in her life. Perhaps life is so beautiful at times because of such unsuspecting developments. In her office there still are a number of collegues who wanted to make friendship with her. But they could not dent into her mind not because they were not eligible bachelors, but perhaps they did not have the passion for love which she found in Pankaj. The day she met Pankaj in one of the company programmes where she was the coordinator on behalf of their company where Pankaj’s company was their client. Pankaj was in charge of their computer stall. The logistic support was given by Madhuri’s company. The moment she saw Pankaj her heartbeat increased. His bright eyes and his body language swept off her feet. She felt he was the man for whom she has been waiting. Within two days, she forgot about home, relations, they came so close as if they have been in love eternally. After this it was a matter of days before they got married. Of course, Pankaj cautioned her about his parents behaviour and that she may not be accepted by his parents. But at that time Madhuri could not think anything else except Pankaj. What does it matter if her in laws do not accept her happily! What matters is that Pankaj has accepted her wholeheartedly and he is always on her side. She is not afraid of the world as long as Pankaj is on her side.
At the same time she feels an obligation on behalf of those girls who are not treated well by their in laws. The bill on Woman’s empowerment and protection from any kind of harassment by their in laws, husband or other relations has been passed in parliament and has become a law. Now she can definitely file a case in the court of her harassment by her in laws day-in and day-out. She expects the Hon’ble Court should exemplary punishment to the in-laws for their inhuman treatment meted to their daughter-in-laws.