The phone rang.
Kamala closed the tap and wiped her hands in her sari while hopping out of the kitchen to pick up the phone. It must be Prasad, she told herself.
Lakshmiyamma started her daily work of commenting on everything that is happening at home.
“Why can’t you pick up that noisy thing? Now by the time you reach here, it will stop making sound.”
Kamala has thought why God is with the Mothers-in-law that things always happen according to their wishes. The phone stopped ringing a second before she picked up the receiver. While checking the missed call list, she saw Lakshmiyamma standing next to the couch.
“See I told you; now you will call back and make my son pay more money for the phone bill“.
Kamala ignored her.
Though Lakshmiyamma knows that the family is running with Kamala’s salary too, even after 26 years it was difficult for her to admit it.
Even though Kamala ignores the comments, it was difficult for her to get used to it in the beginning of her married life. But after moving out from the husband’s house to the city, it felt like breathing fresh air and freedom. Every time her mind will push the reply to her throat but like every “good” daughter-in-law, she would swallow it consciously.
The missed call list showed Prasad’s name in it. She redialed the number.
“The number you have called is busy. Please try after sometime”.
Phew!!She banged the receiver on the phone.
“Who was it? Why are you so angry?”
Kamala glanced at Lakshmiyamma and then went back to kitchen without uttering a word.
“Oh!!In this house I’m a rag. Nobody wants to share anything with me. As if you are high-class people.Duhh!!You changed my son also. Now he is also not telling anything to me.”
Kamala cursed herself.”I should have just told her that it was Prasad. Now this is will be the topic of the day for her”.
She banged her head on the fridge.
Lakshmiyamma opened the front door of the house and told to world.”I don’t have anybody. My husband is dead. Now all I have is a son. My son loves me but she won’t allow him to show his love to me. I know everything. I know everything you are thinking in your mind. You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am“.
“Why did I take leave today? I should have gone to office.” Kamala told herself while washing the vegetables.
The phone rang!!
This time before Kamala got out of the Kitchen she heard.
"Hello!!!" "Who is this?" "This is Vishwanathan's mother speaking" "Hello!!!Hello!!!"
Kamala took the receiver and said hello!!
"Why?" "But, you told...” "Why?" "I don't know. I have to call." "Why?" "But...”
Kamala was standing still keeping the receiver on her stomach. Lakshmiyamma’s a rough touch made her come back to senses.
“It was Prasad. He is not coming for Vishu this time. He is busy with his exams.”
Kamala slowly went back to the kitchen and turned back when she heard the next question.
“So Priya? Isn’t she coming home? After all, this is her first Vishu after the marriage.”
“I need to call her and see”. Kamala closed the kitchen door and went upstairs to their bed room.
She opened the wardrobe and took out the new sari-suit which she and Vishwanathan bought for Priya and Saran. She sighed and kept it back. She lied down hugging the pillow to ease the pain she had in her heart. She took a day off to clean and decorate the house to welcome the kids. Vishwanathan went to office today to finish off the important works so that he can extend the leave for two more days. All in vain; she thought.
Priya has still not called but had told that she will be coming for sure.
Kamala picked up her cellphone and called Priya.
"But...” "Why?" "I thought...” "No, he is not coming" "No need"
She heard a knock on the door. It was her neighbor-cum-best friend Ranjini.
“You look terribly sad. What happened?“Ranjini asked out of surprise.
“Nothing. I was thinking of coming there after lunch”, Kamala replied patting on the bed waiting for the next question.
“What happened? Aren’t they coming this year?“Ranjini stood up in anger sensing the root cause.
Kamala lied down on the bed and tears rolled down from her eyes uncontrollably.Ranjini had predicted the situation well ahead of the planning by Kamala. Kids of new generation are of these kind.
“Nobody has any care that an old woman is hungry. Nothing has been cooked and does somebody expect me to go to the restaurant to have lunch? She got time to gossip with the neighbors taking off from office. But can’t make a lavish lunch”
Kamala wiped her tears and hugged Ranjini.
Lakshmiyamma was standing at the beginning of the staircase to see whether they are coming down. When she heard the footsteps, she went back and lied on the couch switching on the radio.
Ranjini smiled at Lakshmiyamma and closed the door and went out.
Priya was having a bad week in both office and at home too. Due to the product launch, work has been hectic for past two weeks. At home Saran is having a tooth problem which has made his face puffed. Poor guy cannot eat anything solid. The appointment fixed for the dental surgery is the day after Vishu. Priya dialed Saran after talking with Mom.
“Anything important? I am busy” Saran told from the other end.
“No. Nothing!!Carry on”. She pressed the end call button
She called to Dad’s cell phone but nobody picked up. She was about to disconnect the call when she heard somebody’s voice at the other end,not Dad’s voice for sure.
“Vishwanathan sir is in a meeting. Do you remember me Priya? How are you? Is everything fine in Delhi? Is it hot there?”
“Okay”, She sighed and replied.”Please tell Dad that I had called“.
Her phone rang!!It is Prasad.
"You know how things are here." "I know but” "Let me know. Bye"
Saran was sitting on the bean bag watching the IPL 2011 when she got back home. She kissed on his puffed cheeks and went to the bed room.
“What do you want for dinner?”
“As if I can have grilled chicken in this condition”, Saran fumed.”What a dumb question are you asking?”
She went to the kitchen without acknowledging the latter part of the dialogue. Saran accompanied her.
"So is Prasad going home for Vishu?" "No" "Why?" "He is busy with exams" "Hmmm we can’t help it. We took a week off for the last month's Jaipur trip. Moreover this Saturday is working for both of us. And my surgery is coming up too. So...” "It is alright, we will go next week." "Next week is our YMCA annual celebration. How can we miss it when I am presiding it? These days you seem to forget many important things."
He closed the kitchen door and walked out.
Saran has been this way from the beginning of the relationship. He expects her to remember everything. As she knows him for past 9 years, she didn’t reply. She knows the after effects if she replies something. She sighed!!
The phone rang!!
“It is Prasad”, Saran told before picking up the call from her cell phone.
“Alright, no problem, I will take care. Don’t worry. Bye!!“Saran talked over the phone looking into her eyes.
He walked up to her and gave a romantic massage on her neck. Then hugged her from behind and kissed behind her neck and on her ears too, “Don’t worry. Let’s see“.
Later while setting alarm in the cell phone before sleeping, she sent a text message to Prasad.
“Now I know why our parents never went to their homes!!!”