Fiction

Think Before Belittling A Woman?

by Anuradha S. Bannore

Dilaas & Poonam lived in Vadgaon. He was an engineer who worked with full devotion and dedication. No one could raise a finger where his work was concerned except for those who were jealous of him & who believed in climbing the ladder of success on others shoulders. As expected he didn’t get what he deserved but this didn’t waver his sincerity though it definitely did hurt him to see his juniors getting promoted & he had to work under them. It was a disgusting thing to have happened but Dilaas never showed his anger. This continued till his retirement. He always said, ‘At least I have a job. Think of those who are jobless & have a family & parents to support. I’m thankful to God for not putting me in that situation.’

Poonam too had taken up a job to support the family. Life had become quite comfortable for their family but some of their near & dear ones became jealous of them and started creating a problem for them in various ways. It became a stumbling block in their life. The pressure of it started taking shape & gradually their peaceful life was no longer so with all the bickering that grew into terrible arguments & Dilaas was no longer the peaceful loving caring husband that he used to be. Poonam tried to make him understand, ‘Dilaas, you have to control your temper. Do you even realise what humiliating things you say to me in your anger? You think, saying sorry solves all problems when you repeatedly do the same things. Can’t you see they are purposely creating a rift between us because they are unhappy themselves? They’re just troublemakers & I’m shocked that you support them & not me? Why is it so? In spite of everything I still love & care for you. Would you like to stay with them for say a month or two if you believe they really care for you so much? I think that’s a good idea because in this way you will see for yourself what a selfish life they are leading & maybe you will then realise why they are interfering in our life.’

This sent Dilaas into a fit, ‘The problem lies not with them but you. They like you but you hate them. Why is it so? Why don’t you accept them when they have accepted you?’

Poonam looked at him & blurted angrily, ‘Is that all you can say in spite of my putting up with all their nonsense? So that’s how you feel & think about me. You are accusing me. Thanks for letting me know what you think of me. I’ve nothing more to say. I’ll go & cook dinner. Our children will be visiting us today.’

The children did come & though things seemed to be normal superficially they sensed something wasn’t what it appeared to be but the usual way of chit-chatting continued over dinner. Just when they were leaving their children hugged their mother & quietly whispered, ‘Ma, I know all isn’t well though both of you are pretending it is. Tell me, are those people still creating a problem for you? I think I must give them talking & shut their mouth once for all.’ Their tone was quite harsh with anger.

Dilaas heard it & looked up. He firmly told them, ‘Keep out of it. I’ll deal with it. Your Ma has to be more understanding. I don’t think anyone means any harm to her but she just refuses to listen.’

‘I’m sorry to say, Pa but that’s what you always say but do nothing about it. Why do you believe she’s wrong? Can’t you see for yourself that because they can’t get along so they’re jealous of our happy family? Some people love harassing others, they get sadistic pleasure in doing so. If this time Pa, you don’t do anything then I’m sorry to say but I won’t keep quiet. Enough is enough!’ Having said that, they angrily walked out of the front door.

Dilaas lost his head & yelled at Poonam, ‘ I’ve told you to be cheerful especially when our children are around but you never listen. Just see what you have done, are you happy now? You never fail to create a scene when they are around & they foolishly support you. You have made my life miserable.’

Poonam calmly but firmly retorted sarcastically, ‘Oh no, my poor baby, I’m sorry to have done that but being a Baby you are blind to reality because those wretched people have mesmerized you with their pretentious sweet talk. It’s ok, you live in your dream world but don’t you try to drag me into it. I’m comfortable in the world of reality with no guilt feeling which one day I’m sure will be your world… a guilty conscience will be deep-seated within you if you really understand their tricky behaviour, hopefully, you are not a part of their conspiracy! I wish you good luck & will wait for that precious moment when with a thump you will awaken to reality. Have fun till then. Please call them to help you to lead a better life, as this ill-fated wife is going on a long vacation with her friends. My bags are already packed. I’ll be leaving soon. You don’t have to see me off, my friends are coming to pick me up. You can enjoy your life peacefully for which you have been yearning.’

As she turned he furiously shouted,’ Who are these friends? How dare you decide anything without my permission? Did you even think about what people will say? What do I tell them about where you have gone, when I know nothing about it? What a great fool I am, they will say!

Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you care for me? Am I…

‘Oh, so you have finally realised that you are a fool, though for the wrong reason. Anyway, I’m happy that you realised it. Just tell them whatever you want because all of you have always spoken badly of me. Oh, I have a wonderful idea, I think you should tell them that your wife has eloped! Yes, you should definitely do so because they will have some real spicy stuff to gossip about & give you some excellent advice. Don’t ignore it. Enjoy your life with all those stupid gossipmongers.

Don’t forget to have your meals. I prepared & kept it in the fridge but it’s only for tomorrow. Your loving good for nothing so-called well-wishers will take care of your meals, I guess! Happy vacations for your much yearned for bachelorhood!’

Angrily she stomped out of the house with her bag followed by her curious husband to see her friend. When he saw a handsome man step out of the car to take her bag Dilaas stood staring blankly at him who gave him a sweet cold smile & waved out to him. He couldn’t see anyone else in the car because of the sun shields. The man got into the car & speeded off much to the fury of Dilaas. He shouted out,’ Poonam, what do you think you are doing? Are you bent on destroying me, didn’t you say you love me? Come back immediately,’ he suddenly realised he was shouting in the air & his neighbours were staring at him wondering what was wrong with such a peace-loving man. Feeling ashamed of what his wife had done he quickly entered his house & locked it so that no one could come inside. Absolutely frustrated he didn’t know what to do. One of his sisters called, ‘ Hello Dilaas, don’t forget both of you have to come over to my place tonight for dinner. If Poonam doesn’t want to come just forget it but you must definitely come. It will be more fun without her. All of us will be waiting for you.’

‘What? What did you just say about Poonam? If you are inviting both of us & you don’t want her to come then why are you inviting her? Anyway, thanks but no thanks because I’m not interested in your dinner. All of you have a good time.’ Angrily he banged the phone. He sat thinking about Poonam & her dumping him which made him furious. The handsome man’s face kept popping before his eyes which worsened the matter. His ego had been hurt & he pitied himself for having such a horrible disloyal wife. With a heavy heart after an extremely tiring day, he went to bed but sleep too ditched him. This went on for almost a month. He was sure she would definitely return but he was shocked when she didn’t. Loneliness was driving him mad & also made him do some introspection. Frustration & anger were his sole companions now. His pride & ill health made him realise what a fool he had been. His sisters stopped calling him for fear of having to look after him. ‘Oh God, what should I do? How do I get rid of that horrible man’s face who took away my dear wife, right in front of my eyes? Did I say ‘dear wife’? Don’t tell me I was blinded by the gossip which she always warned me against?’ The thought cleared his clouded head & out of the bed, he jumped wondering, ‘ Who do I call? I’ve no idea who that man was & neither do I know his name? I’ve really messed up not only my life but Poonam’s too. Oh God, please give me a clue, I beg of you! Poonam please forgive me for being such a big fool. You were right, I’m really a fool to fall in the gossip trap.’

Frantically Dilaas started ringing up those cousins of Poonam whose numbers he had but it seemed he had reached the dead end. He felt irritated & ashamed of himself having to tell them that Poonam had left him around a month before & he had no clue whatsoever about her whereabouts. Her cousins didn’t leave him without teasing him. The youngest cousin really got on his nerves with her prying questions,’ Oh, so you have lost your wife? Isn’t it silly of you to let such a sweet beloved wife of yours go out of your sight? Oh, has she eloped with someone more handsome & better than you? Oh, dear brother-in-law, I am sorry to say this but you sure are a loser! What will you do now? In fact, you should be happy. You are now a free bird so fly freely & soar high & if luck favours you, maybe you will catch someone better than Poonam. Try it, dear Dilaas. You have been stupid enough not to respect your wife so better be careful with your second catch lest she too runs away from you.’ Having said that, she burst out laughing outrageously. That was the last straw on the camel’s back as they say. Furiously, he retorted,’ Look here, if you don’t know then tell me so but don’t be sarcastically rude to me. I didn’t throw her out of the house. She left of her free will. So how..’

‘Oh, I see so you are the innocent hubby who didn’t do anything but just watched her leave without any reason. Should I applaud you for your stupid fake innocence? Some of you men are so very conceited that you can’t even notice what you are doing to destroy not only your own life but also that of the ones around you. I’ll give you the number of another cousin who is very close to Poonam only on one condition that now you behave yourself or you have no idea what I’ll do to you & your gossip mongers. Don’t think I don’t know what’s been going on so you had better be careful. Men like you must learn to love & respect their wives. She’s a human being with self-respect & not your property. Just remember when the boy’s parents take dowry in any form it means they have sold their son & not purchased someone’s daughter. Tell me one thing, when you go shopping does the shopkeeper give you money along with the goods you choose to take? Real dumbheads even educated people have become if they think so. Better watch your step from now on because none of us is unaware of what’s going on in your family & be a man since you are married. If you can’t, then forget it & I’m very happy & proud of my cousin for dumping you which she should have done ages before as I had advised her instead of leading a torturous life with you. But at least…’

‘ Oh, so you are the bright spark to give her this stupid idea! Couldn’t you mind your own business? Why on earth did you have to give such stupid advice & Poonam, I didn’t know was such a..’

‘ Mind your language. Don’t you dare say another word against my cousin. You sure are an egoistic arrogant good-for-nothing spineless man. Enjoy your bachelorhood with your gossipers,’ with that she angrily switched off her phone much to the dismay of Dilaas who could have kicked himself for his unthoughtfulness. He decided to call her again after she cooled down. There was a ray of hope of getting some information. He calmed himself & finally called her again, ‘ I’m sorry for what I said earlier & I also promise to behave myself so kindly let me know where Poonam is.’

‘It’s so very easy to say ‘sorry’ without actually meaning to be so. If that’s what you feel then I’m sorry I’ve no idea where she is!’

This sure irritated Dilaas to the utmost but she was the only hope so he rang her up again,’ Ok, my dear sis-in-law I’ll do whatever you say but please, I earnestly hope you will tell me where Poonam is.’

‘ First, you send me this in writing with your signature and maybe then I’ll let you know. The sooner you do the better for you before I change my mind. For now, you can send a scanned copy & then courier the hard copy. If you go back on your words you can’t imagine what’s in store for you.’

‘Ok, give me a few minutes and I’ll call you again & for heaven’s sake stop threatening me like a kidnapper. By the way, I hope you didn’t…’

‘ Cut it short otherwise you will repent so better keep your mouth shut.’

Dilaas quickly wrote & sent the scanned copy to her. He once again called her & finally got the phone number much to his happiness but was exhausted by what all he had to hear. On ringing up he heard a familiar voice but couldn’t place where he had heard it, ‘Hello, who is calling?’

‘It’s Dilaas, I’m Poonam’s husband.’

‘Ah yes, but which Poonam are you talking about because I know two of them.’ He winked at Poonam. ‘How can I help you? By the way, how did you get my number because I don’t think I ever gave it to you. We have never spoken even face to face except once, I think & that too just a few words,’ he chuckled looking at Poonam

Dilaas was now exasperated but very calmly he asked,’ Do you have any idea where Poonam is? I’ve been..’

‘Sorry but I’ve no idea which Poonam’s husband you are. Your voice doesn’t sound familiar at all.’ he turned towards Poonam with his tongue in cheek to see his cousin glaring angrily at him. He quickly turned away & said, ‘Ok Dilaas, I think that’s enough for this time but please mend your ways. Take my advice & remember we men must learn to love & respect our own wife more than someone else’s. This alone will help in having a healthy atmosphere & a beautiful happy family.’ saying so he handed the phone to Poonam & left the room. ‘Hello Dilaas, this is Poonam.’

Dilaas was so very happy but ashamed too that he couldn’t speak, ‘Hello Dilaas if you don’t want to talk I’ll disconnect the call & you can forget all about me.’

‘ No, no, please don’t hang up. I’ve gone through a lot before getting this number. Your youngest cousin really scared the daylight out of me. She killed me with her words & I’m sure I’ll be haunted by them throughout my lifetime. I only hope I don’t get nightmares because of…’

Poonam couldn’t control her laughter & said, ‘Of all the people, why did you call Devi but in a way, it’s good you did. She has her own way of setting people right especially when her near & dear ones are harassed. If you promised something to her then better keep it otherwise even God won’t be able to save you.’

‘My God your cousins are frightening bodyguards! They give me cold shivers! Anyway, who was that handsome man with whom you left the house? I…’

‘There you go again. Should we have a conference call with Devi? I think we should. She can explain things better than I..’

‘No, no, please spare me. I’ve had more than enough from her. I’m honestly extremely sorry. Please come home soon. I miss you. I’ve been crazily calling your cousins ….’

‘Well, well, you should have asked the kids. They knew everything. I’ve been constantly in contact with them. You sure are..’

‘Spare me of your adjectives. My bag is already overflowing with them. Devi has profusely gifted them to me. So the kids too are on your side. How terribly inconsiderate of them not to tell me..’

‘Dilaas, our reward depends on our attitude towards the family. Learn a lesson from this experience. Ok. I’ll be back by evening but don’t even in a hurry forget that Devi will be watching you. She won’t leave you even if I side with you. You will now be walking on thin ice so be very careful how you move forward. See you soon. Will go & pack my bags’

True to her words she returned home with the same handsome man much to Dilaas’s disconcert. Very smartly the man picked up the bag & carried it into the house. Dilaas wasn’t happy with the idea of that man making himself comfortable on his sofa. He gave Poonam an enigmatic look. Poonam immediately understood & burst out laughing, ‘Dilaas, don’t worry. He isn’t my boyfriend & I didn’t elope with him. I know you did think so & that’s why you were shocked to see him & became speechless. He’ s my dearest loving cousin, Dhruv. He has taken care of me since I lost my parents at a young age. He’s my best friend too.’

Dilaas laughed uncomfortably & said, ‘ You sure have an extremely wonderful pack of frightening cousins. I’m happy I don’t have such cousins.’ He gave a shudder & sat down quietly while the two cousins chatted nonstop. Dilaas mumbled to himself, ‘God, please keep me blessed & safe by day & night from these terrifying cousins of my dearest wife. I promise to be a very loving & caring husband & a father to my children. I’ve learned my lesson & it’s true, your wife isn’t your property or a servant. If we expect to be loved & cared for then we have to reciprocate the same.’

About the Author:

Anuradha S. Bannore is a prolific writer and an alumnus of Jabalpur University with M.A in English. She retired as a teacher and currently lives in Vadodara India.

3 Comments

  1. Well, this is a really enjoyable story with an ironic twist at the end. I did love reading it
    it’s a slice of life and a real one too hope more stuck -up husbands will learn a lesson form it
    Great work ms. bannore keep it up

  2. Jaishree Misra

    Very interesting story with a happy end ! A lot of readers would love to borrow Poonam’s cousins !
    Anuradha selects topics of general interest and gives her literary creations unexpected twists and turns to bring poetic justice !

  3. Thanks Ms Diwakar and Jaya for your very interesting comments.

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