“I am never going to play with Paramjeet!” Sunny stormed into the house, throwing his shoes in rage.

“What is it baby?” Mala hugged her son.

“He did not let me bat today. I hate him,” Sunny replied, his eyes glistening with tears.

“It’s ok darling. Come, I will make your favourite halwa,” Mala suggested.

Halwa!!!” Sunny’s eyes lit up.

“Let’s finish homework meanwhile,” his dad Manjeet offered with a smile. Sunny nodded and walked to his room with a buoyant bounce.

***

“The halwa is good but the food is too oily and spicy. I am not eating this, sorry. Please chop some fruits for me,” Manjeet pushed his plate away.

Mala sighed and went to the kitchen. She handed him a plate of fruits and retired to her bedroom without uttering a word.

Manjeet cleared the table, did the dishes and then came to the room.

“Look what I got for you,” he took out a pink chikanakari kurta from his bag. “It will look beautiful on you. Go try it.”

Mala took the kurta and kept it aside without so much as glancing at it.

“What happened?” Manjeet quizzed.

“I am tired,” Mala replied and changed into her pyjamas.

Once done, she noticed Manjeet sulking on the bed.

Good for you. I don’t really care.

She laid down on the bed with her back turned towards him.

The atmosphere in the room looked charged, not a word was spoken. Manjeet sat with clenched jaws and Mala was cursing under her breath.

“Mind to explain what was that about?” Manjeet finally spoke.

“What?” Mala asked, knowing exactly what Manjeet was talking about.

“Why do you always do this? I noticed this exhibition while returning from work and even though I was tired, I went to get something for you. I selected it with so much love and you didn’t even bother to look at it, let alone appreciate my efforts,” Manjeet was seething in anger.

“You mean like you appreciated the food I prepared for you?” Mala was waiting to mention this.

“Seriously? Oily food is bad for our health. How many times do I need to explain that to you. Why can’t you understand?” Manjeet gestured with his hands in the air

“Because then you complain that the food is too bland. I am home all day, there is so much work but you don’t even help or appreciate me,” Mala hissed.

“You know that’s not true,” Manjeet replied angrily, his lips pressed tightly together.

“Remember last month we were invited for the Mehra’s anniversary. Sunny had just recovered from his fever. I had had so many sleepless nights while tending to him. You knew how tired I was and yet you got upset when I refused to accompany you,” Mala fumed.

“I know it was my fault. I accepted it and I genuinely apologised to you that day itself. I thought you had forgiven me but here you are, still holding onto things from the past. Do I ever bring up past issues?” Manjeet was losing his cool.

Their eyes locked in a fierce, unyielding gaze, blood boiling, muscles tensed. Manjeet clenched his fists and Mala was teary eyed.

“You’re impossible!” Manjeet hissed and turned around to sleep.

Mala mimicked his action and cried silently.

It’s always the same. Just because I don’t earn, he belittles me. He doesn’t even try to understand me.

Countless thoughts passed through Mala’s mind making sleep difficult. She turned around only to find Manjeet sleeping peacefully. This angered her even more.

***

Mala banged the tea and toast on the table.

Manjeet took it without looking at her. She was also not the one to surrender easily. She finished her tea and got up to prepare lunch.

Manjeet cleared the table and followed her to the kitchen. Both ignored each other. Manjeet started washing the utensils. “I will have lunch in the canteen,” he informed.

Mala wanted to answer back but she chose silence.

Manjeet got ready and left for work without uttering a goodbye.

***

That evening, Manjeet came back early from work. He changed and sat with Sunny to help with his homework. The couple was still avoiding each other.

“Sunny, my dad has got me a new bike. Come take a ride!” Paramjeet shouted from the street.

Sunny left everything and ran outside.

Mala looked out the kitchen window to see the kids laughing and playing, completely forgetting about their fight. She smiled recalling how angry Sunny was yesterday.

She thought about her own fight with Manjeet yesterday.

“I am sorry,” she put tea and a plate of piping hot pakodas in front of Manjeet.

Manjeet looked at her and smiled. “Even I am sorry for being disrespectful yesterday and for whatever else I have done in the past to hurt you.”

He handed her a teacup. “Stretch out your hands and hold it please.”

Mala did as asked looking at him with a puzzled expression.

“Does your hand hurt?” He inquired.

She shook her head in confusion.

“Ok what happens when you do it for five minutes, ten minutes, one hour? Will it hurt then?” he quizzed her.

She nodded, not understanding where this conversation was going.

Manjeet smiled. “Just like this, if we sort out our differences immediately, it won’t hurt us much but the longer we hold onto them, the more difficult it would get to move on.”

Mala nodded in understanding.

“So are we done with this or will you bring these up again when we fight next?” Manjeet joked.

Mala hugged him tight, “Never again.”

Life is so simple, kids know it. It is the adults who complicate it unnecessarily. There is no point in holding grudges, especially against someone who matters to you. One shouldn’t allow past grievances to poison their relationships. It is so much better to just forgive and forget. Mala was surprised that her ten-year-old had made her realise this simple thing.

***
Picture credit: www.unsplash.com

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