The threshold at the entrance was well decorated, the fragrance of incense sticks was felt all over the house, the cooker was whistling, the foam water was pouring down the vessel. Suma, an herbal Indian housewife, trapped in the family cycle, with a jingling sound of her toe rings and bangles rushed into the kitchen. She, just like all other Indian house wives left her true self at her mom’s place and is leading a cook, serve, clean, repeat life. It has been 25 years for her marriage, since she forgot her dreams, since she forgot her passion.
That morning , her husband, Ajay left for his work and her two grown up children to their college. Suma, was busy peeling garlic where she heard the doorbell. There was a postman at the door with a letter in his hand for Priya from Lakshmi. This was the fifth time she was receiving the same letter. “ Gosh! Brother, I have already told you there is no Priya here or the address here might be wrong”, said Suma. “Sorry mam, every time I take it back, I am again instructed to post it at the address mentioned”, saying so the postman left.
This time Suma became curious to read the letter. She did as she thought . In that letter Lakshmi writes her beautiful childhood memories with her best friend Priya. “ The tall tamarind tree under which we played, those stolen raw mangoes which we enjoyed by sprinkling salt and red chili powder, our small dolls whose dresses we frequently changed, that kitchen set for which we fought, those drawings which you drew everywhere……”, and many more memories Lakshmi shares with Priya.
Suma feels very touched with that letter. She felt the letter was for her as she too had similar memories in her childhood. Suma enjoyed reading the letter. Towards the end she read, “ Thanks to your father whom I accidentally met. Maybe he wasn’t able to recollect your number so he gave me your address . Here I’m leaving my number. Do give me a ring. Very eager to talk to you. Hope you liked my surprise. Yours loving friend, Lakshmi”. After reading the letter Suma thought of calling to that number and inform the lady that Priya’s father gave her a wrong address . As Suma stood, an envelope fell from her lap which came along with the letter. Suma opened the envelope and was shocked to see her own childhood photo in it . In that photo, she was holding a certificate and was having a medal around her neck. The certificate stated that Priya Subramanyam D/o Gopalakrishnan Subramanyam has won first prize in a painting competition.
Suma then discovered that she herself was Priya which was her childhood name and that photo was the surprise Lakshmi was talking about . She realized that neither the address nor the name, neither the postman nor Priya’s father were wrong. Her tears kept rolling down. She was feeling guilty for forgetting her own name. ”How fool am I? , how can I forget my own name? , what kind of a person am I? , what kind of life am I living? , what was I then and what am I today? , why am I like this? “, she yelled with her hands on her forehead . She felt cheated by her marriage which cut her wings. She felt caged with responsibilities. She then called her husband and asked him to come home urgently so that she can share both her pain and happiness. Suma was very much thankful for that letter which reminded her of her passion. Suma decided to resume painting and excel in the art which was her childhood dream.
Her husband, though late, still arrives. After Suma shares what happened with her that day Ajay gets angry .” Are you mad? You have called me home from my busy work for this silly reason, not reason, a piece of information that your name before marriage was something else. What difference does it make? , you were to be a housewife. And what’s this certificate, passion and all? That must be your hobby and that too 25 years ago. Now you have only one passion, cooking. Stop this shit and do that. It’s enough.
After facing Ajay’s reaction Suma didn’t speak a word. Her pain was doubled. The person for whom she sacrificed her true self calls it to be silly and shit. She felt helpless.
That evening when Ajay came home there was a canvas standing at the middle of the hall. It had a beautiful sketch of a peacock. “Wow! Beautiful! I never knew my children have such talent”, appreciated Ajay. Yes, you are right , that’s talent not hobby”, said Suma in a low, dull yet rough tone. She was still crying deep inside. Ajay with astonishment asked,” you did it?”. Suma with swollen eyes nodded her face indicating yes. “It looks great if colored”, said Ajay. “Yes! I know”, replied Suma. Ajay figured out that Suma is very serious about what happened with her that day. Suma sat quietly on the sofa staring at her black and white photo . “When…. are you going to color it?” , asked Ajay. “This sketch will be colored by Priya not Suma”, she replied. Ajay knitted his brows and sat beside her. “Why are you back of that name again? Come on, it’s just a name. It does not define you. You are what you are irrespective of your name”, Ajay said.
“Getting my name back keeps me and my passions awaken so that I never forget my true self”, cries Suma . She then looks at Ajay and brings her closed palm forward. Ajay opens it and finds a plastic coin. “What’s this?”, he asked. “I brought this token from the Aadhar card center to change my name”, replied Suma. “What? Are you mad again? How can you change your name? Your name was changed according to my horoscope for the good luck of our marriage. It’s a ritual”, shouted Ajay. “ I no longer believe in that ritual which has given me only pain”, said Suma. “If you really think changing name will get you good luck then why don’t you change your name according to my horoscope as I did for 25 years?”, questioned Suma.
“Me?”, screamed Ajay. “No, I’m not going to change my name”, shrugged Ajay. “Why? , What difference does it make in your life? Its just a name. It does not define you. You are what you are irrespective of your name”, replied Suma. After having the taste of his own medicine Ajay said,” Yes, you are right . But that never happens in our society. Male’s name won’t change, he giggled.
“Don’t worry . I will fight for you to gain equality in this society. I am with you”, said Priya.
Ajay had to zip his open mouth.
Priya stood, raised her eyebrows and said , “ I am no more a dumb housewife now, I am passionate Priya”.