Mrs. Ambika Singh suddenly found a surge in the  number of her friends. She was already popular in her social circle, partly because of her pleasant demeanour,partially for being  the glamorous wife of a rich businessman .Additional asset now was her young marriageable son much in demand in the  marriage market .Nikhil had just joined M.D after completing his internship.There was no dearth of proposals for him ,but Ambika zeroed on Kavya ,lovely, innocent daughter of Rathores who was just out of school. Nikhil fell in love with her at the first sight. A fairy tale wedding and Kavya was now part of the Singh clan. Kavya got a welcome befitting a queen in the Singh House. Life could not have been better . A loving husband , affectionate in- laws ,what else a girl could ask for? She wondered why her friends kept criticising their in -laws . Hers  were more caring and affectionate than her own parents .Nikhil was too busy with his studies and visited home once or twice in a month . Kavya missed him still she had no complaints .Mrs. Singh never let her feel lonely .  

       Kavya woke up with a start that night . There was someone in her room, someone in her bed . An involuntary cry escaped her lips but was stifled by a kiss .  Was it a nightmare ? She knew that Nikhil was not at home. She tried to push the intruder away  .”Whooo?“ she tried to cry and escaped to switch on the light . Bewildered ,she found her mother-in -law almost mad with passion before her . She  could not understand what was happening ,picked up her night gown and ran out . Mr. Singh got up with the noise and wanted to know the reason .” Nothing , Kavya is  scared ,I have come to sleep with her.” was Ambika’s reply.   

          That was the beginning . Ambika found every opportunity to enter Kavya’s room under one pretext or other. Kavya was at a loss about what to do or how to escape . Her love and respect for Ambika changed into dread and hatred . What should she do , whom should she talk to ?   

    When Nikhil came home she tried to bring up the matter,” Nikhil , I have to say something about mom .” “ I never knew that you will also be like other girls . I can see how much she loves you and here you are, trying to find faults  with her .” Kavya fell silent from that day onwards .Sinking deeper  into depression each day.     

   Ambika was equally restless . She could not gauge her own behaviour . “What is forcing me  to behave that way ? Why I am degrading myself in the eyes of my daughter-in-law ?”

“What’s wrong with it ?” She thought  sometimes ,”only Kavya should keep quiet about it . I am not harming anyone.”

        Later she felt that she was not only cheating on  her husband but harming her son  also . She knew that this fatal attraction would destroy her family .She seemed to have no control over herself .Certain things surprised her .Why she had cringed at the touch of her husband and dreaded every night , though she loved him . Talking about such things was a taboo and she thought that this happened with everyone .  Later She came across one or two articles in the magazines about this topic . Things started making sense . That alarmed her . She learnt that that wasn’t just a sin but a crime as well “ But what is my fault if I am made that way ?” she mused . 

     It was the month of Sawan (Rainy Season ) .As was customary ,Kavya was to spend that month in her parent’s house . Ambika could not stop her . Kavya’s parents found her unusually quiet . She was not interested in anything . That cheerful , bubbly girl was gone for ever . They wanted to celebrate Teej in an elaborate manner but she adamantly stopped them to do so . Nikhil  visited her often but she gave him lukewarm response .      Kavya refused when it was time to go .”What is it girl ? why don’t you tell us ? “ an angry and frustrated father asked . But her only answer was tears . She even threatened to commit suicide .She refused to talk to  her husband or in -laws . That fairy tale marriage was reduced to a farce .    

         Guilt was written all over Ambika now . She was in a situation where she could neither blame Kavya or herself for what had happened. She didn’t know that the things could take such turn . Recalling her life she wondered why she was never attracted towards men . Why she recoiled from the touch of her husband. 

       She had to do something about it . She won’t let her son and daughter-in- law suffer because of her . She would  not let her family disintegrate because of her selfishness .   

   She requested Kavya ‘s parents  to allow her to meet Kavya alone  one last time and persuade her to go back. As she entered Kavya was sitting by the window . She looked so shattered and forlorn that she felt like consoling her. “But no ! “ She stood before Kavya who was  startled  and tried to run away . “ Please Kavya forgive me .This shall not happen again .” With a lot of coaxing and cajoling she was able to convince her .

         Ambika made her sacrifice.She had no choice. 

***  

                    
Author’s Note :-I have based this story on a query that I saw in an ‘Agony Aunt’ column of a magazine,most probably Femina almost four decades ago . A young married woman baffled by the behaviour of her mother-in-law had asked this question. That was the time when ‘ gay ‘ had a different meaning and nobody ever talked about such things. I don’t remember the solution given . I have tried to imagine what she could have done during those times.

***

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