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The Incident at the Akashdeep  Estates - part 3

In fact Mahesh anna’s visit paved the way for closer ties and interactions between my family and his own although we did not get to see much of  Shalini who preferred visiting her parents in Bangalore and spending time there rather than be with her husband. But we got to know  Mahesh’s aunt Rohini and her son Arvind, who visited us twice when they came to our town to attend our relatives' weddings and other social functions. Arvind would show a lot of interest in me, complementing me all the time which was like music to my ears and so did Rohini aunt.

Here, I have to tell a little about my self, although my family loved me and showered me with affection and care, they made no secret of the fact that my older sister Sunita was the beauty of the family. Sunita, after rejecting several suitors, was finally married to a software Engineer last year and the wedding cost my family all the savings that was my father’s life time earnings, since my sister wanted the best of everything for herself and for her wedding. Now she lived with her husband in Mumbai constantly grumbling about this and that, also putting forward some demand or the other. But my elders saw nothing wrong with it, bending backwards to fulfill her demands which angered me no end.

Being constantly compared to two beauties in the family Sunita and Shalini, I had developed a huge complex and any compliment that came my way was music to my ears. So, I was very happy when Rohini aunt and Arvind visited us. Arvind was a law graduate and although he was friendly and pleasant, I had the feeling that he was under tremendous pressure , which he was cleverly managing to keep under control. This was something I discovered once when he lost his temper at our dog when it accidentally came his way and he kicked and screamed at it with such ferociousness that I was shocked and so were the others. His mother was forever watching over him and very protective of him which to me was understandable, given the kind of pressure under which he was living and it was totally surprising and intriguing as well. I was not sure how to deal with him, his moods and his compliments.

A proposition

Suddenly, one day Mahesh anna visited us and he looked quite disturbed since he kept pacing up and down and finally after being asked many times , told us that he was worried about Shalini. I secretly wondered if Shalini was hatching some new plot to capture everyone’s attention simply because she was bored living in the Estate. There was not much of a social life there since the nearest small town, if it could be called that, was 4 kms away and had no shopping malls or any of the other attractions that Shalini was so fond of.

Mahesh anna spoke about her state of mind , how sometimes she would spend days together in her room wearing her night gown, refusing to come out and meet others, express fear and suddenly become agitated at the slightest reason and so on. It was definitely unlike her. Mahesh anna felt that Rohini aunt and Arvind could hardly help since they simply could not deal with her. When my mother and grand father suggested that she may need counseling he agreed but said he wanted to keep it as the last option.

 He further went on to say that he had spoken to Shalini at length and what he had gathered was that she was depressed and wanted to have someone her age at the estate with whom she could communicate. Mahesh anna in turn felt that if she could confide in someone who she trusted it might help her recover. I thought that if at all,  Shalini with her airs and highhandedness could only drive others into depression and felt that Mahesh anna being totally in love with his wife was exaggerating her mental state and suffering, if any !

However, Mahesh anna was totally convinced that his wife was depressed and she needed to be cared for and looked after by one of her own family members, as he discussed the issue with my family members. I could see that all were very sympathetic . He suddenly came up with the suggestion that I should be the one to do so since we were cousins and I was the only person who was in a position to do that . To say that I was shocked at this unexpected suggestion, was an understatement . I was a little annoyed too with Mahesh anna for being so completely absorbed in his wife that he refused to see beyond her beauty and understand her selfishness and greed. So much so that he was becoming insensitive to others feelings and realities as well. I flatly refused  his suggestion and went out into the garden and sat on the little branch of the guava tree which was my favorite place especially when I was angry or in a bad mood. I had another reason for refusing, what about my own little job which helped us financially, how could he not realise that? For someone like Mahesh anna what I earned might have seemed like peanuts but for my family it was very much needed.

I heard someone calling out to me and saw Mahesh anna who had followed me into the garden. He came and stood by my side, resting his hand on the branch and was quiet for a minute after which he started speaking. This is what he said..

“ Anita, I don’t blame you for refusing  because I have not been very diplomatic nor have I made my intentions clear. I tend to get carried away with regard to anything that concerns Shalu, you may say that is my weakness…”

He was quiet for a minute as he was obviously overcome with feelings and was contemplating ..then he went on ..

“When I married Shalini, I knew that I could not make her completely happy because she was used to living in cities and was fond of socialising. So I made sure that she had all the freedom to go where she wanted and visit her parents and friends as and when she wanted. But, of late I see her hardly showing any interest in either visiting her parents or even venture outside the estates.“

“ I am also in need of someone who could help me with my accounts and other clerical work concerning the estate. I thought of you as the right person, since it would serve both the purposes. I will be paying you a salary like I have done before to my assistants "

When he quoted the amount he was planning to pay me I nearly fell off the branch since it was almost three times the amount I received at present. But the thought of leaving my family was not easy. So, I asked Mahesh anna to give me some time to think things over and decide, to which he agreed readily. After Mahesh anna left we sat and discussed the matter with everyone pooling in their own opinions. My brother called me The Queen's maid and this angered me a lot, but I also decided that if at all I went, I would go there as an assistant to Mahesh anna and not as The Queen's maid..

( To be continued )

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