She switched on the TV and then looked at the clock. It was a little later than usual, but she'd wait. This wasn't the first time, this had happened. Her son was busy playing with a pair of spoons on the dining table. He would be a great musician, she knew that. The serial was very interesting and Saira was about to get married to the guy who was actually her sister's first husband, when she looked at the clock again a little impatiently. The serial was almost ending and the cookery show would start. She wished she could tell Saira that it was her brother in law. It was not his fault, he had amnesia and had to have a plastic surgery because of his near-death accident. Her son was again making those sounds, she scolded him with a half smile. He showed all his 22 teeth in response. He knew that his mother loved him too much.
The cookery show was a repeat telecast, but she kept it on all the same. She looked at the clock. Another 20 minutes had passed. The stupid chef was mixing peas before he added the onions. Now the dish wouldn't be half as tasty as it should be. And what was with all the Kaju, did he want his viewers to die of cholestrol? Her son decided to break the monotony with another performance on the table. This was the limit. The father refused to come home on time for dinner and the son wanted to break the dinner table. She took the spoons from his hand, gave him a whack on his bottom and put him into his babycot. For a moment the child was too flabbergasted to react and then broke into a cry which would have had any woman rushing to his rescue, but not his mother. She had decided enough was enough. Today she would settle all her accounts. What did these people think about themselves? Isn't my time valuable?
There was another soap on the other channel. This one was a little more interesting generally, but today it was dragging out. She noticed the time. It was 15 minutes since the serial started. This wouldn't do and not today when she just had her manicure done. She looked at her freshly painted nails and at the lady crying on the screen. Only one woman could feel the pain of another. Her son just then made a sound as he turned in his cot. She went and lovingly held him to herself. Sometimes its only close family who are with you in such calamities. The son, a little apprehensive about his mother's mood changes, looked at her quite blankly. She placed him in the babycot, gathered the pallu of her saree, all the while looking at the mirror on the almirah.
She looked like those persecuted Bahus on the soap operas. She gave one last look at her fingernails, shuddering as she imagined their plight and in a resigned manner moved towards the kitchen when Ding Dong.
She ran to the door with a speed which would make most athletes green with envy. Opened the door to find the simple little lady with a huge red bindi, who let herself in. 'Woh Memsaab, paani ka problem tha isiliye late huaa'. She immediately forgot all about her one and a half hour wait and embraced Kantabai. Her son looked at them through the babycot with a very puzzled expression, equally puzzled was Kantabai. The clock had struck 2, she immediately let go off her servant. This was her favourite serial. The woman was going to tell her husband about his son actually being the son of the lawyer of his biggest rival. Kantabai quickly rushed into the kitchen. The kid closed his eyes. Life was back to normal.
- Pranay Rao