One afternoon, Lalabihari Singh came home carrying two fowls. "I am hungry; cook these for me," he told his sister-in-law. Anandi had already cooked the meals and was waiting for him. But at Lalbihari's request she went back to the kitchen to prepare the new fare. She found that there wasn't much ghee in the container; no more than a quarter kilo. A rich man's daughter after all, Anandi knew no niggardliness! She emptied the entire contents of the container to cook the meat. When Lalbihari sat down to eat, he found the lentils had no ghee. "Why didn't you add some ghee to the lentils?" he asked Anandi.

"I used up all the ghee to cook the meat," she said.

"What! It was only the day before that we purchased ghee. How could it have got over so soon?" Lalbihari said in a raised voice.

But, today there was hardly a quarter kilo left and I used all of it for the meat," Anandi replied.

Just as dry wood catches fire easily, a man, gnawing with hunger, flares up over trivial matters. Lalbihari thought his sister-in-law was being impudent, and he flared up, "It seems as though rivers of ghee flow in your parental home!"

Women can tolerate abuses and they can even endure physical assaults, but they cannot bear insults hurled at their parents. Anandi turned her face away and said, "Even a dead elephant is worth a fortune; the barbers and water-bearers there consume this much ghee regularly."

Lalbihari simmered with anger; he upturned the plate of food and said, "I feel like pulling out the tongue from your mouth."

Anandi was also angry and her face turned crimson. "Had he (meaning her husband) been here he would have shown you your place," she said.

This invective was too much for the illiterate and uncouth thakur to tolerate. His wife, the daughter of an ordinary land-owner, was rather docile and he routinely beat her up. He removed his sandal and hurled it towards Anandi. "I will teach both your husband, whose indulgence has made you haughty, and you a lesson," he said.

Anandi warded off the sandal with her hands. This protected her head but she hurt her fingers. Trembling in rage, like a leaf fluttering in wind, she withdrew to her room and remained standing for a while. A woman derives her strength, honour, and courage from her husband; she exalts in her husband's manliness. Anandi suffered the insult silently.

Shrikanth Singh used to come home on Saturdays, and this incident had occurred on a Thursday. For two days, Anandi fretted, refused food, and remained in her room; she waited for her husband to return. Shrikanth Singh, as usual, arrived home on Saturday evening. Friends and acquaintances from the village usually visited Shrikanth Singh's home upon his arrival to learn the latest news from the city. He informed them about the new court cases, told them about the developments in the country, and indulged in some such small talk. The discussions continued till 10pm. The gentle folks in the village enjoyed these discussions immensely and they would sit listening, forgetting all about their meals. It was difficult for Shrikanth Singh to rid himself of this nuisance! The two to three hours which Shrikanth Singh spent conversing with the villagers were hours of torment for Anandi. Finally, it was time for meals and the villagers departed.

When the family found itself alone, Lalbihari addressed Shrikanth Singh, "Brother, you must teach bhabhi (sister-in-law) to speak respectfully; else some day we will come to grief."

Benimadhav stood up for Lalbihari. "Yes, daughters and daughters-in-law must not argue with men; such behaviour does not behove them."

Lalbihari: She might belong to a well-to-do family, but, then, we too are no less.

Shrikanth was perplexed and wanted to know what was the matter.

Lalbihari replied, "Not much! But, for no reason, she became irritated; she thinks we are nothing in comparison to her parents."


Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu