Smita’s dreams came crashing down.
She had had no illusions about her looks or her limitations, but she was a Delhi girl and had some expectations from life. The man she would marry need not be highly educated, nor very rich, but he should cherish her for what she was. Her husband was not what she had longed for. He was the youngest in a large joint family, a spoilt brat with no interest in marriage, and quite casual about their relationship. That really hurt, to put it mildly, but she had no shoulder to cry on.
His parents were quite old already. Smita struck a great friendship with them, and it was one reason why she survived those initial years. They had once headed the ruling family whom all the locals bowed to, but time had been cruel to them. Yet they remained regal despite their hardships, and continued to command considerable respect in society.
Smita gave birth to twins, and immersed herself in bringing them up. Her husband, meanwhile, carried on with his indifferent ways. It was years before her submissiveness, quiet suffering and limitless endurance began to get to him. Her rock-steady devotion to him and his family softened his rough edges, and he mellowed little by little.
He did not earn enough to support a family of four, and so gave in when a sister-in-law suggested that Smita take up teaching. The books she had loved so much in college stood her in good stead now. It was a hard life. She stayed by herself for a year in another town to obtain a teacher’s degree. The twins, then very young, were looked after mostly by their father and his mom. Smita returned to her family and became a schoolteacher.
The twins bore the rough life rather well as their parents struggled to give them a semblance of decent living. Their part of the family estate was a rundown affair, but there was never enough money for repairs. Years later, Smita and her husband got a neat sum when pay scales were revised. They invested some in renovation, and the rest in arranging for the twins’ college studies in another town.
Today, Smita is quite dependent on her husband, what with her back packing up frequently and her irritating hearing aid of little use (she tends to take it off ever so often). She continues to teach, though, and the man who once couldn’t care less about her is all tenderness and love. He is now retired, and his entire day revolves around making life comfortable for one who sacrificed so much for him.
Their doting children are self-sufficient and love their father dearly for the way he changed himself. Her devotion has paid her back in ample measure.