It was an ordinary day. The clock hands were at 9 am. Jaya laid the table for breakfast which consisted of an elaborate menu of sprouted moong, fruits, colourful salad, cheese sandwiches, mint chutney, buttermilk, beetroot juice to start the ritual, and green tea as the finishing of the symphony.
Reeking of an expensive after shave, her husband took the seat like a despot in his throne. Jaya swung into action, serving him every dish as she had been doing since decades. As he took first bite of sandwich, he banged the plate on the mahogany table and shouted “Where is the salt? Tasteless preparation!”
Salt! The banging of plate reminded her of the morning two decade ago when she was a new bride. Marriage with Partap had turned her life topsy-turvy, as from a Fine Arts teacher in a school, she became a housewife who, on papers, was made the Director of a business firm managed by her husband’s confidante. She only had to affix her signature on documents.
One morning she was busy sending her only son to a school picnic, and forgot to put a salt shaker on the table. Her husband’s frowns made her think what wrong she had done? Finally he roared, “Breakfast was hopeless. No salt in scrambled eggs as you attended to your son’s need. He is grown up now and I have decided to send him to hostel.” She was shocked. Soon their son was sent to hostel. Lifeless, she mechanically served her husband.
On advice of her childhood friend in whom she confided her predicament, she started making greeting cards and rose to make home decor articles, courtesy her Fine Arts degree. In the initial years of marriage, she tried to decorate home with her aesthetic art but her husband preferred to hire services of home decor companies. Now with determination, she pursued her interest in fine arts. On sly, through her friend’s help she started making beautiful items that were much appreciated, and using a pseudonym, she earned a good name.
Not in her wildest dreams she had ever thought that forgetting to put salt could change her life, but now she stood taller than her husband’s titanic ego and he never knew it. Yet for the next 20 years, she never forgot to taste salt before serving meals to him. The very mention of salt made her lifeless.
Twenty years later, when once again he banged the plate for not putting salt in his parathas, she coolly placed salt shaker near his plate, told him to take care of his hypertension and read carefully that day’s newspapers which carried a woman’s journey from salt to mart. As he read his wife’s journey, he stood motionless. She told him that in her journey with him they were never together. Now she wants to move ahead on a journey alone to pursue her passion forever. Her grown up son tightly held his mother’s hand.
Ritu Kamra Kumar