When her uncle had fixed her marriage to Suhel without asking her, Richa was peeved that nobody cared to ask her about her own life. She saw how her aunt treated her sisters-in-law and was afraid she too would be blessed with a monster-in-law. But contrary to her expectations, she found a mother- the mother she had lost at birth and the mother her aunt never was.
Sujata had always wanted a daughter. But a complication at Suhel’s birth meant she could never be a mother again. No, just she couldn’t conceive again. For she found the daughter she wanted in her daughter-in-law. Her neighbors had warned her that her daughter-in-law would steal her son and try to undermine her value. Instead Richa, accustomed to her domineering aunt, showed her deference that she didn’t expect. For Sujata’s husband Suman, the Patriarch of the family, didn’t believe in giving importance to women. He treated his wife like his slave and Sujata had grown accustomed to that. Even to Suhel, his mother was just someone who did everything at his father’s bidding.
On that fateful day, Richa had nagged her mother-in-law to accompany her to shopping. Despite her remonstrations that the men would be very angry if they found no dinner when they returned from work, Sujata couldn’t convince her daughter-in-law. At one level she didn’t want to either. She knew what her husband would normally do in such a situation but expected that she might be spared now that she was a mother-in-law. The two women lost all track of time looking at the junk jewellery and dresses. By the time they caught the taxi back it was already 9pm. By now Sujata’s fortitude was gone and she was fretting how her husband would react. Richa on the other hand had no idea what her mother-in-law was worried about and thought she was over-reacting.