Nitin and Varsha were invited to Sulekha's birthday party.
Sulekha was Varsha's 'forever' best friend and the party was something that was bound to be a fun affair. Starting off as a leisurely lunch on a Sunday, it was meant to progress on to tea and who knew, the possibility of the cocktail hour loomed large as an exciting prospect as well.
But things don't really change very much and as it happened, today was no different. Nitin was ready, dressed in his 'Sunday best' while Varsha was still in her nightgown.True, she had already bathed and her clothes lay neatly on the bed. Nails varnished and make up applied, all she had to do was change, run a brush through her hair and she would be ready to leave.But what about all the household chores? There was a mountain of laundry to be tackled, she had to sort out all their clothes for next week's ironing and the groceries had yet to be ordered.
Suddenly it was all too much for her and Varsha felt overwhelmed. The last week at work had been really tough, she had completed a very tough assignment and handed it over to her boss who had taken a cursory look at it and in a few words, told her it wasn't upto scratch. Net result- she would have to go in tomorrow and start it all she had all over again. To top that, she had the beginnings of a splitting headache and despite the painkiller she had just taken it seemed to be building up.
"I really must lie down for 15 minutes", she thought. It was just past 10 and they had to leave by 1230 in order to get to Sulekha's place in Andheri East.
The thought had barely crossed her mind when she did exactly that. Five minutes later, or was it just two, she was lying in her soft, and comfortable bed.
"Hey Varsha, we will be late", called out Nitin from where he was busy watching the IPL unfold on television.
"Come on, lets leave soon Varsha"
"Or at least as soon as you get ready."
Another beer and 15 minutes later there was still no response and that was when Nitin decided it was high time to look into the matter. Driving to Andheri wasn't going to b e easy, even on a Sunday and he wanted to be sure they made a whole day of it.After all, it was the weekend, wasn't it?
Grumbling under his breath, he went towards the bedroom, everything was silent.
"What the"? he muttered and opened the door.
Looked in and saw Varsha stretched out on the bed.
Looking around, he could clearly see the signs of all her work in progress. The laundry basket with the dirty clothes, neatly separated into whites and coloureds lay on one side while another basket held the clothes that clearly needed to be ironed.
And Varsha looked so small..and very tired.
He felt his heart melting and in that split second, he realised what a male chauvinist pig he was! In the two years that they had been married, she had borne the brunt of running the household, He was ashamed to recall, the many, many times
( just like today) when he had treated his "weekend" as sacrosanct and made the most of his time off.
" Chilling out" he called it- a couple of beers, good sex with Varsha followed by the evening out. And to him, it was all perfect- Time out for both of them.
But something had to must change now,he told himself sternly.
He wasn't going to be his father all over again.
Sitting with his feet up and relaxing while his mother, also a Professor at a leading women's college, worked hard through the week and then worked hard during her weekend as well. Cooking, cleaning and getting the house organised for all of them.
"Oh God, have I been sleeping"? Varsha woke up with a start.
She felt rested but she also felt worried. She still had to tackle the laundry, the ironing...
Looking around, she could see that something was different. The room was neat and there was no sign of the piles she had made some time ago.
And what was that sound?
Could it possibly be...?
the washing machine?
That was when she saw Nitin come into the room. Very quietly so that he wouldn't disturb her.
"Oh you're awake? I hope I didn't...?"
And in a flash, Varsha understood.
Understood why everything looked so neat and clean.And why she could hear the sound of the washing machine in the background.
It was all because of Nitin.
Coming up to her, Nitin stretched out his arms and drew her in gently.
"I'm sorry," he said.
She could see the glint of tears in his eyes and knew that it was a turning point.
Life had changed for them today.
And she was convinced, life was going to stay that way.