Marriage, does it really make a person happy? Or is it all about adjustments? ‘The Story of My Second Marriage’ is a delightful rumination on marriage, adjustments and human nature. An excerpt from the recently published novel by Mahesh Sowani.
We came home. I called Aai and told her about Yamini’s pregnancy. Aai in turn called her father and told about it. The next day both of them came to our house. They were happy. Even I pretended to be happy the way I had done when I was facing cameras in my wedding by flashing the same artificial, fake smile.
‘We will have to do ultrasound scans after every fortnight as she has taken these medicines.’ I told Aai in the presence of her father.
‘Now that you are pregnant you should mend your ways. Never ever lie. Always speak the truth.
Your child will imbibe your qualities.’ Her father said as he left. Aai stayed with us for two more days. Even after knowing about his daughter’s pregnancy, her father, like always had visited us with empty hands. Both I and Aai felt it was odd.
But none of us spoke anything about it. Neither before Yamini nor behind her back.
Yamini’s behaviour was eating me up. One evening when me and Aai had gone to have a stroll after I returned from the office, I told Aai all the incidents which had happened in the past.
‘I feel pity for her. She doesn’t have a mother and her father is good for nothing. May be that is the reason why she started lying. Perhaps it is her survival mechanism. If we don’t understand her, who will?’ Aai tried to persuade me.
‘I think you are right. But is it wrong on my part to expect that my wife will not lie?’ Aai said I wasn’t wrong either. ‘Nothing is right or wrong. Everything is part of destiny.’ She said.
‘Shall we go to out for dinner today?’ Yamini asked when we came back.
‘You must take care now. Cook something at home.’ I told her.
‘I asked because Aai has come. There are no hotels at her village. I thought she would like eating out’. She said.
‘See she doesn’t feel anything about child in the womb. I am worried about the after effects of the medicines and she wants to to eat out.’ I said to Aai. ‘Give her some time.’ Aai suggested.
How much time? I wanted to ask. Does time guarantee that she would change? I wished to know. But I gulped my questions. For I knew that even Aai did not have any answer to those questions. She herself had lived all her life in a hope that time will change the person. Baba my father was very high tempered. If the sugar was more in his tea his temper would flare up. If the water for bath was not as hot as he wanted he would be enraged. He would count all the faults of Aai and vocalize his feelings. He would say that marrying her was the biggest mistake of his life. I still remember he had flung up the cup and saucer after he felt that the tea was too sugary. The clanking sound of breaking of cup and saucer is still fresh in my ears.
I could see Aai collecting the shards with moist eyes. Poor Aai would try her best to please him on such occasions. She would start cooking something he liked.
Perhaps my Aaji, her mother too had told her the same thing. ‘Give him some time.’ My mother gave him all the time which he had. He died at the age of sixty three in sleep. It was a fatal heart attack. His time was over. But he hadn’t changed. I wondered how could Aai tell me with so much of conviction that time would change Yamini.
‘What’s there in the village? Why don’t you stay with us?’ I said when Aai was about to leave. ‘You wont understand Manju.’ Was all that Aai said.
I was pleading Aai to stay with us. She stayed alone at Vadgaon. Honestly I was worried about her. She was getting old. Vadgaon had just one Primary Health Centre. The doctor in charge was not at the village most of the times. He was running his parallel private practice at the Taluka. So the Primary Health Centre was practically managed by the staff nurse. She examined the patients, gave them pills and even injections.
‘What if something happens to you?’ I had asked Aai during one of those several discussions when I was trying to persuade her to move in with us.
‘Nothing happens. Moreover what has to happen will happen, no matter if I am at Sangli or Vadgaon.’ She said.
Aai moved her hand across Yamini’s face and asked her to take care of herself. ‘Eat lot of fruits and vegetables, especially the green ones. Drink plenty of milk. Add a pinch of haldi in the milk. It will protect you from coughs and colds and will make the baby fair.’
As it was a Sunday I took Aai to the bus stand on my bike. ‘Take care. Have faith in God. All will be well.’ Aai told me when the bus driver took his seat. I nodded my head and waved her.
When I returned I warmed the milk on the induction stove, mixed some haldi in it and gave it to Yamini. ‘I don’t like haldi.’ She protested. ‘It is good for your health. It will save you from cold, cough and many other infections.’ I told her.
‘Keep it aside. I will have it after some time’ She said.
I tried to persuade her to have the milk immediately but in vain. I walked into the balcony and stood there watching the setting sun. How was the sun so sure that he would see another day? I wondered. But later realized that thoughts and feelings were not applicable to nature. They applied only to the human mind.
Aai reached home safely. She called me to convey it. She told me that the next day she was going to Sugandha atya’s house with Radha aaji.
‘You don’t want to stay with me and you are going to Sugandha atya’s house.’ I said to her over the phone.
‘No no. We are not going to stay at her home. We have not lost our minds to stay at a married daughter’s house. Sugandha needs her janam patri immediately. Now you know Radha aaji. She cannot travel alone. So I am accompanying her. We will leave in the morning and will be back in the evening.’
Sugandha Atya was interested in astrology. Aai had updated me that she had now become one of the most successful astrologers in her town.
‘The soul enters the womb during the seventh month of pregnancy.’ I had overheard Sugandha atya sharing her spiritual knowledge at one of the social gatherings, probably someone’s marriage from the village. I was a school going boy then.
‘Do you mean to say that the up to seventh month the foetus is devoid of any life?’ Someone had asked her. ‘Yes. It is just a ball of flesh, a lifeless form.’
‘Ball of flesh’ I said mentally looking at the imaginary baby bump which Yamini sported. I should get rid of it. After all it is just a ball of flesh, I thought.
(The Story of My Second Marriage is Mahesh Sowani’s latest novel, published by Blue Flower Books)
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