“Jeene ke liye socha hi nahi… dard sambhaalne honge,
Muskuraaye toh muskuraane ke… karz uthaarne honge…”
Revathi sinks into her chair as Anup Ghoshal’s voice fills the room. Her legs, which have won her many a race in her youth, have begun conceding to the steady march of time. Though her medical reports deem her fit as a fiddle, something doesn’t feel right. Today is the third time in a week that she has stormed out of the living room.
“Why can’t Soumya learn to cook better? If there is too much salt in the sambhar someday, the rice is half-cooked on the next. It’s all her mother’s fault. I would never let my daughter cut my nose in front of her in-laws. If only I had a daughter! Would have been much better than my Rajesh. Can I even use the term my anymore? How dare he defend his wife instead of supporting his mother? He might be the President or Prime Minister… or whatever it is that he is at his company, but has he forgotten who the head of the house is? Preparing breakfast and lunch for the entire household, packing their lunches, taking care of Ananya, am I not doing enough for the house to be shown some respect?”
Ananya. Her very thought has a calming effect on Revathi. “All of five, the little one cares for her dadi more than her parents ever have. Like when she brought home a chocolate to share with me from school today. My angel! I shall make Jeera Aloo for lunch tomorrow, her favourite.” She thinks as she changes into her night gown.
“Zindagi… Kaisi hai paheli haaye…
Kabhi yeh hasaaye… kabhi yeh rulaaye”
Owing to her music teacher father and film buff sister, listening to Hindi songs has been her favourite pastime since childhood. She still remembers the day her husband brought home a second hand transistor. How happy she had been! Dancing to Kishore da’s lively hits on some days to mulling over life, thanks to Mukesh’s melancholic melodies to swooning to Rafi sahab’s heartfelt renditions, every single moment spent with the transistor are etched in her memory. Racing through her morning chores, she would turn on the transistor as soon her husband left for work. Playing one hit after the other the entire day, the transistor would be allowed to rest only after her husband had had his share of Lata Didi’s golden voice to accompany his post-dinner drink. The bulky brown box had become an integral part of their lives. Thus, it was only natural that she was distraught when it had been misplaced while shifting to their present house, shortly after her husband’s death a year ago. ‘Lost in transit’ the cargo company had said.
That is, till the day she found a top-of-the line music player on her bed. ‘5000+ songs’, the box said. “Do 5000 songs even exist?” She had wondered. She had had little time to think any further though, as her son and daughter-in-law entered the room shouting, ‘Happy Birthday!’ Ananya was in tow carrying a box of Revathi’s favourite fruit cake. She didn’t remember the last time she had felt this important as all three touched her feet in respect.
“They aren’t that bad,” she thinks as she turns off the music player and gets into bed.