Acceptance6 mins 29 6 mins 29
Waking up to the incessant tringning of her alarm, Riya woke up already regretting the dawn of the new day and the works to be done. Yesterday was a day of superhuman strength and endless workload with cooking, taking care of the baby as well as the various targets at work which needed to be completed. Dreading about facing another day of running around like a banshee she switched on the T.V. Listening to the news absent-mindedly, she went about finishing her chores.
Once her chores were completed she sat on the sofa about to enjoy a few minutes of quiet with her favourite cup of chai. The bedroom door opened and little Richu came out dragging her ragged teddy behind her calling out sleepily “Mumma, Mumma where are you?” “Here I am, baby girl. Did my little angel had a wonderful sleep?” she cooned at her. Half smiling she crawled into her mother’s lap and wrapped her tiny arms over her neck. Feeling cocooned inside warmth she hugged her back smiling happily. Richu was her sunshine and guiding light and her whole life revolved around this tiny little munchkin.
Drinking her coffee wondering about the COVID-19 pandemic everyone keeps talking about in her office, her neighbours and friends she prayed that her family must remain safe. Not knowing how severe the situation was about to become she heard the newsreader talking about the compulsory lockdown. She was elated and terrified at the same time; elated about getting time to spend with her kiddo and terrified about maintaining peace with her in-laws and husband.
Hardly realizing the consequences of the curfew she day-dreamed about the wonderful times she would get to play with her daughter. Feeding Richu her favourite breakfast of mashed banana with honey and pillowy idlis her phone rang jarringly. Putting Richu in her play area, she attended her phone noticing it was her boss on the other end. He was talking to her about the new WFH model and how it works. Logging into her system she noticed the bucket-load of tasks assigned and nearly fainted.
Hearing the sound of her in-laws and husband she went off to serve them chai and breakfast. They all sat discussing the effects of the lockdown being implemented and it slowly dawned on her the work entailed. With no maid being able to come she not only had to cook she had to wash the vessels and clothes, sweep and mop the floors as well as take care of Richu. Her in-laws were already giving her the menu for lunch which included sambar and Rasam for her Nani, low salted Paleo panner and keerai for her Nana; brinjal fry and pappad for Vikram. None of them was least bothered about her work or helping her or looking after RIchu. Struggling with her duties she did it all silently while wondering if they would ever look at her as a human being with dreams, thoughts and expressions and not as a machine to be plugged in and used daily.
Finishing her chores, already bone-tired, she logged into her system to start her work. Richu called out, “Mumma won’t you come to play hide and seek with me”. Promising her she would join her in a few minutes she focused on her work. A week passed in a whirlwind frenzy of work, work and more work. Dark circles formed under her eyes due to the sleepless nights and endless work. She couldn’t even remember when she had 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Feeling like a zombie she prayed for someone to come help her.
The next day dawned off as usual. Struggling with all the work, trying to make the idlis for nanna; kanji for Nani, pooris for Vikram and porridge for Richu. Suddenly a sheen of darkness came over her eyes and she lost consciousness. Blinking her eyes slowly trying to bring senses back she heard voices which were going in and out. She opened her eyes to see her family anxiously peering at her and little Richu crying out, “Mumma, Mumma ?? Are you ok??”. Struggling to get up Vikram helped her up and carried her to the sofa. Nani who hasn’t had a kind word for her from the day 1 entered, rushed to bring her a steaming cup of chai. Nanna fretted nearby asking if she wanted to go to the doctor or "shall I get you some medicines beta?" Feeling pampered and cherished like being in her mother’s house but knowing it was temporary she said, “No I will manage” and tried to go back to her chores. They all literally shouted at her and told she should just rest today and "we will take care of the house."
Later that night sitting in their bed Vikram looked at Riya and said, “I am sorry Riya. I know I didn’t fulfil any of the promises I made to you on our wedding day. I said I would be your better half and I haven’t been. I have started taking you and your love for me for granted. I promise you things will change from tomorrow”. Hearing the loving words but knowing them for the sweet nothings they were which would be forgotten by tomorrow morning Riya went off to sleep. Next day waking up she was surprised to see Vikram not sleeping near her. Entering the kitchen she smelled the sweet aroma of freshly brewed chai, egg omelettes, dosas and coconut chutney. Looking around in bewilderment she saw Vikram smiling at her. He told, “I know I have promised you the same words many times but I have never acted on it. But yesterday seeing you faint and realizing daily the amount of work, commitment and love you have for our family and seeing the praise and recognition you get at the office for your work. I know I have been a selfish person. I promise you this will be a new beginning. This lockdown has made me realize the value of you in my life. If I lost you and your love, my life will cease to exist”. Crying silent tears she hugged him hard as he kissed on her forehead. It was a bittersweet moment.
Enjoying her breakfast feeling like being on a date; remembering the wonderful times at the beginning of their marriage she went off to work. Finishing her assignments she entered the kitchen to make dinner. Nani was already there and had made the entire menu. “Nani, what is this?!!" Riya asked her. She replied, “Oh beta I am really sorry. I know I should have treated you as my daughter but I just looked at you as my daughter-in-law. Yesterday Reenu called me complaining about how none of her in-laws helps her in her home. Even then I didn’t realise I was doing the same mistake. But seeing you lying down unconscious I realized my mistakes. From today onwards we will share the chores beta”. “Thank you Nani,” Riya said gratefully.
Hearing Richu call out, “Mumma, Mumma !!!” Riyarushed out to see nana already playing with her. Looking at her, he said “Why don’t you take some rest beta? I would look after this angel for some time. After all, you do work very hard for this family and isn’t it time that we helped you”.
Feeling like a family for the first time the evening was spent in the terrace; with all of them hanging out; sitting around; playing cards; singing songs and enjoying their favourite cup of chai. While little Richu called out “Mumma! Mumma, will you have time to play with me daily as Nana, Nani and Dadda are helping out with your chores?” Smiling at her, Riya silently thanked the Gods for this lockdown which brought them closer together as a family.