Rooster crowing wearily rolled to my right to get up. Hope Subudu has come into the cowshed. Gingerly slipped from the majestic rosewood bed my father gifted for our wedding, winced as my feet touched the handmade tile floor. Must remind myself to ask Venkamma, the dhobi, to come in the evening to rub some oil into my weary feet.
As I made my way to the kitchen-side of the house, heard Subudu coming in to collect milk cans, with the five cows and ten buffalos. A large part of my life is tied to milk, buttermilk, butter, ghee along with the animals’ health and deliveries. Prarabdha I suppose.
‘Get Sita’s milk in for the house; need another 2 liters extra’, I informed him; ‘Amma, Janaki is not well, Ayya asked me to inform you’. ‘OK, come after milking, you can light the stove; will get the medicinal kashayam ready. See to it that she is tied in the corner today, she needs rest’. All our cows and buffalos have names, Sita, Janaki, Lakshmi, all Goddess names, all giving…..
As I brush my teeth, quickly changed the date in the calendar: 10th of January 1940. Milk-can with Sita’s milk arrived, went in to make two cups of frothing filter coffee with thick decoction using the fresh milk. The house was filled with the wafting aroma of freshly brewed coffee infusing energy and hope. A new dawn, many possibilities. He sipped and nodded, looking like he was happy; should I broach the topic?
Sky is just opening up, warm orange hues spreading ever so gently, fresh breeze carrying the smell of lingering jasmines and sampangis from yesterday’s blooms, birds flapping their wings; clock struck five times, another day has just begun.
‘Yesterday the crow was cawing continuously, am sure some relative will come visiting. Cousin Nagesghwarao is discussing a marriage proposal for his granddaughter, it might have been finalized. He might come, so have asked for some extra milk’, I informed him, knowing he would realize extra milk had come into the house.
‘Your cousin is one useless fellow, took money for his daughter’s wedding, never returned; don’t tell me he is coming with his granddaughter’s invite! Do what you want, with extra milk for home. With Janaki sick, less milk is going to cooperative society’;
Can there ever be a day when he agrees to something without a snide remark about my side of the family or my relatives?! A pinch of salt more in a curry or cows falling sick or clothes not folded or oil lamps not being lit at the right time – all will invariably trigger a scathing attack or a rant about my relatives or my lineage. Deep seeded assumption that we are not equals. As if I come from a lower breed. The hidden hierarchy of marriage!
Am I thinking too much? He always says that all my imagination comes from my reading of novels. Maybe, but wondered many times through the chores of the day – are men and women equal in a marriage?