Urmila the Ungrateful Bride

By Shobha Diwakar

She was a lonesome character. Although surrounded with comfort and all luxuries Urmila was a woman who was probably tired of the world and of course, her own self. You see the world is planted with people who find happiness where there is none while there are others who wish to be neither  happy themselves nor wish others to be so.  Amidst plenty, Urmila was one who always found a way to quarrel with whosoever crossed her haughty path. Life for her and others who tolerated her nonsense day in and day out had become so cumbersome and stagnant that whether guests or inmates all feared to cross her path lest her ill temper flare up like the fangs of the cobra.

Urmila hailed from a remote village surrounded with deep tall trees, a luxurious valley and steep mountains that seemed to touch the skies. The green meadows that surrounded this green village was so beautiful that whoever visited it as a tourist destination fell in love with its natural splendor. It was here that Urmila had attended her school and as children do, hopped along with girls of her age on her way back home where her aged mother and granny awaited her return. This was a small un-sheltered family as her father and brothers had drifted apart since a long time. Nonetheless, the father had to some extent provided for the family before he left home to seek greener pastures in the city nearby.

Time flew like a bird in flight and Urmila grew up into a fine tall girl well accomplished in the arts. The only drawback was that this lonesome girl had not gained knowledge of social behavior since she was draped in too many colors of independence being now the breadwinner. Little did her mother realize that the false pride she had instilled in her daughter for being the one and only earning member in the family had developed in her directly or indirectly a vain ego that kept her aloof from all under false pretences. She considered no one her equal and so her haughtiness created social barriers. The message she gave was, “oh but I have the nose, sir.’ So all other noses paled before her ‘royal’ nose

Come winter, come sunshine, come the rains, Urmila bloomed like a budding rose ready to be plucked for marriage but no suitable match could be found for this royal, young blossoming girl. Royal? Why that prefix,’ someone questioned. “Don’t you know,’ chimed another. ‘She is the sole breadwinner and so stands high in her mother’s eyes.’ There was a moment’s silence. Another raised an eyebrow,’ so what?’ Many other girls are supporting their parents so what’s the big deal? Don’t you read the papers or listen to the news? Girls’ today have wings and they are soaring high. They help with all the housework, complete all the chores and lend a helping hand to their young brothers and sisters and then go off merrily to do their jobs whether as guides, assistants, field officers, or sales girls. The job may be big or small doesn’t matter. Other working people  (women specially) leave home early morning to catch a train since they work away from home, yet get up early to do the household chores, even cook for the family and then rush off. It all depends on the attitude of a person how helpful he/she can be to share responsibilities.’ There the matter ended and gaping here and there the meeting of these nosy parkers  was dispersed.

Sooner than expected, the message was spread that there were some unknown visitors who had come bride hunting and were led to the doorsteps of Urmila’s house through an agent/ middleman . The boy Arvind was a handsome young man who stood 5’11”, fair skinned and wealthy. He was a rich broker who wanted to marry a homely but educated girl to take care of his home and his very small family. Since he had lost his own parents, he lived with his aged aunt who was suffering from a rare bone disorder and was unable to take care of the house that was loaded with all sorts of helpers to do all household chores one could think of. Since he was informed by this intermediary Percy, that here was a ‘homely’ girl who would genuinely fit into his family, without any fuss, Arvind agreed to see the girl and finally nodded his head in favor.

It was a few months later that the marriage took place with great pomp and show. The invitees congratulated Arvind on his choice while the girl’s family that accompanied the mother with a few close relatives seemed to look relieved that without hunting for a match they had hooked one through their friend Percy… which all along had been a guarded secret.

Time flew as it always does and all seemed to go on as smoothly as ever. The house now had someone to take care of all the helpers, supervise the chores also take care of the aged aunt. A couple of years passed away in peaceful happiness until one fine morning something went amiss.  Amidst many haughty exchanges, Urmila revealed her true colors… and Arvind soon realized that not all was well. Urmila showed bouts of temper to whosoever crossed her threshold or questioned her authority. The aged aunt was a barrier, because she saw through her façade and there were times when she (Urmila) dragged her into a fight for no rhyme or reason. In fact, she immensely disliked the aunt who on the other hand   was  always thoughtful towards her and took care to see that everything went smoothly according to Urmila’s  whim , nonetheless it was difficult to please this village girl anytime. Her behavior became more and more rustic, ill mannered and ended with her ‘I-don’t care a fig for you,’ attitude.  Arvind was caught between the devil and the deep sea. He felt he was better off as a bachelor because now there was no peace in the house. He could speak neither in favor of his aunt nor in favor of his wife. If he spoke in favor of one the other would  interpret it as disregard and show temper… and thus the silent years of trust and faith gradually drifted them apart

By now, Urmila had firmly planted her feet in this household where she lived like a Queen sharing no responsibilities with regard to any supervision of helpers or duties towards any of the inmates like, serving them food or ever offering them a cup of tea leave aside preparing it if the cook decided not to come. In fact, she would wait for the aged aunt to prepare it and keep a cup aside for her to drink.    She had no respect for any relatives, she shunned them off as nobodies yet demanded they always  respect her. It came as a warning.  First, no one understood her ‘threat’ but day by day she became more and more discourteous and rude towards everyone. She would dine alone when she felt hungry. Leave the kitchen cabinets open, and food uncovered on the table and disappear to visit her newly found friends who believed her to be a highly qualified and talented woman and a very, very, obedient wife who ran the house meticulously.

The cordial and happy days for everyone had vanished. Instead of being thankful for the bountiful generosity bestowed upon her by each and everyone, Urmila’s arrogance and outrageous behavior broke Arvind’s heart as it did everyone else’s. She believed everyone to be her enemy. She did not trust anyone; she did not love anyone except herself. Too late Arvind realized that Urmila suffered from a split personality, a fact that no member of her family had dared to reveal for fear that she would not get married if they did so. She had been undergoing treatment through a local doctor back home, which Arvind learned later. They had cheated him in marriage and there was nothing he could do about it. He was a devoted man of the family and too conscientious about the vows he had made during his marriage. He felt bounded by them and so the days and nights passed with not a sigh of relief or happiness while Urmila ruled the destiny of all those under her heavenly regime.

Note: This is a work of fiction. Resemblance to any character living or dead is a mere coincidence.

About the Author:  Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India and retired as the head of English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems and essays in national, international and online journals. She contributes regularly to writerslifeline and Indian Periodical. 

 

 

 

 

 

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