It occurred to Meera to be kind to the new girl—to share with her rather than intimidate her. Meera had always wanted a daughter instead of the two noisy sons who trailed dirt all over her freshly vacuumed carpet and wrestled like baboons over everything. But at the wedding, jealousy overtook Meera. Rita was young and vibrant. The cropped blouse of her wedding lengha showed off the tight, honey-smooth skin of her midriff. In Meera’s day, such outfits were considered scandalous. Meera felt a twinge of jealousy observing the way Rita’s husband watched her during the wedding reception. His eyes roamed over her body, hungrily taking her in. ‘Wait till they’ve been married a few years,’ Meera told herself. ‘His wonderment will wear off.’ These thoughts were satisfying, yet Meera was aware that her husband had never looked at her like that, even in the early days.
After the newlyweds returned from their honeymoon, Meera gave Rita a tour of the house, making sure to point out where everything was—from the spare sofa covers to the winter jackets. Rita appeared to be paying attention but that night, after washing the dishes, she stacked the plates haphazardly and wedged the cutlery into every available space. Fuming, Meera plucked all of the dishes from the drainer and started over. It took her some time to finish the chores for the evening because Rita ignored her system of wiping down the tables and thoroughly sweeping beneath the counters to get rid of stray rice grains. When she finally finished, Meera was glad that it wasn’t a Tuesday or a Friday—she was too tired and irate to put up with her husband’s routine thrusts.
As she settled into bed, her husband already snoring soundly, Meera heard noises from the adjacent room. A giggle followed by a ‘Shhh!’ Then the unmistakable laughter of her brother-in-law. Meera pressed her ear against the wall. Rita’s voice was commanding. ‘Good,’ she was saying. ‘Keep going. Do it harder.’ Meera recoiled from the wall. No wonder Rita didn’t take instructions from her. She was too busy being the boss in her marriage. This won’t do, Meera thought. There could be only one ruler of this household and it was going to be her. She decided to be extra stern with Rita the next day. She would insist on taking Rita through another tour of the house and she would quiz her afterwards. ‘Where does the Windex go? What about the spare plastic bags from the grocery store?’
Through the walls, she could hear Rita’s moans escalating now and the bed creaking to a frantic rhythm. Didn’t the girl realize that there were other people living in this house? Meera purposefully opened her room door and shut it loudly to remind the newlyweds of the way sound travelled in this home. The noise ceased for a few moments, but eventually it resumed, with Rita’s moans swelling through the house like notes in an opera song. Meera burned with envy. She tiptoed out of the room and noticed with disappointment that Rita’s bedroom door was shut. If it were just slightly ajar, she would be able to see what was going on. For some reason, she could not picture it. All she could see when she shut her eyes was Rita’s smooth, flat tummy. Her mind’s eye roved higher and she could picture the girl’s firm, round breasts, her nipples flushed pink and alert. She pictured a pair of lips closing around those nipples and she was horrified to realize that those lips belonged to her. She chased the image out of her mind and blamed her tiredness for making her imagination run wild.
(Excerpted with permission from Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. Published by HarperCollins)