The Story :
“ Khushi Jangli ghas ki tarah hai, jahan chahe uga lo, jab chahe ukhad kar phenk do; “Khushi ki buniyad beta hi nahin, betian bhi hoti hain”.
The story explores the above truth through three families – families of PRASHANT, SANJAY and MALTI BUA.
The protagonist is Prashant – son of an N.R.I.. For him life is bed of roses as he heads his father’s Liaison Office in India at fat salary, free furnished bungalow, car and all other perks. He is happy. But his wife Sushma is not. She pines for a son as she has only three daughters.
SANJAY is a friend of Prashant – a Section Officer in Central Government. All the time he is manipulating to become an Under Secretary out of turn, so that he has access to power and make money. For him money is synonymous with happiness.
Malti Bua is a widow, who is supported by the above two families. She has a son Birju. She hopes that her son will support her in old age, which does not happen.
The marriage of Prashant’s daughter Sughandh, is fixed in a very rich family. His N.R.I father comes from Singapore and promises a grand marriage plus a job to the bride groom in Singapore.
For Sanjay, his future suddenly becomes rosy. He becomes Under Secretary and is posted in Ministry of Industries.
However, catastrophy strikes Prashant’s family after a few months. Prashant’s father dies in Singapore and strange things begin to happen. First the office is sealed. Later Prashant’s service is terminated. He is asked to vacate the posh house company had given him. It is then revealed that Prashant’s father had a second wife in Singapore and he willed every thing to her. For Prashant’s mother he only left a small house in the city. As the news is spread, engagement of Sugandh is broken by her in-laws, even though her fiancée had developed physical relations with Sugandh and promised early marriage. Sugandh tries her best to woo, her fiancée, but he does not respond, as she is no longer an asset for him.
Prashant’s shattered family leave the posh house and move to their modest house, which was near the new government flat allotted to Sanjay. From affluence to abject poverty, it was a cruel life where not only comforts were gone, but even necessities became scarse.. While Prashant was stunned, his wife Sundri burst into rage – “ Why did Mataji (mother of Prashant) kept it secret that Pitaji had another wife, why did she not obtain a will in her favour? why was the mangni broken? Who will now marry my daughter? Why didn’t God give me a son?” Sundri lost faith in one and all.
In Prashant’s office there was an assistant – Raman. He too lost his job. He had a one-way love for Sugandh. He was hurt when she was engaged. He was deeply hurt when catastrophy struck his boss and his dream girl Sugandh. He became a salesman in some other company, but maintained link with Prashant and his family. Towards the end Raman would marry Sugandh.
Deepti was Prashant’s second daughter. She was not very beautiful but had grit and intelligence. She had opposed the engagement of Sugandh. She disliked Sugandh’s fiancée. She did not approve of Sugandh going alone with her fiancée and stay late with him. For herself, she had chosen a different role model. She kept Pratish (second son of Sanjay who was now a neighbour) at a distance, when he tried to help and come close to her in those difficulties. She liked him but did not marry till she reconstructed her life through hard work and became a support to her family.
Prashant tried hard to get a job but failed. In his father’s office he had learnt little of office administration.
Sanjay, on the other hand being shrewd and cunning, managed to become Special Secretary to a simple honest ministry. He exploited his closeness to the Minister and in his name amassed huge wealth.
Like Prashant, Malti Bua too faced a cruel destiny. She had all along believed that a son was an asset but she found that her son had become a goonda. He had no interest in studies and murdered his teacher, when he tried to stop him from copying in examination.
Prashant was always a good husband and father. To make things easy for the family in those hard days. He changed himself completely. He became humble, patient denying himself of every pleasure in order to run the house. He would tolerate his wife’s behavior quietly without reacting, he would request his daughter not to mind the rough behavior of their mother as life had really been cruel to her. Amid austerity, he tried to create an atmosphere of happiness by self negation and tolerance.
Sanjay, on the other hand was rolling in money. But his ill-gotten wealth had poisoned his family life. He had started indulging in drinking, gambling and womanizing. His wife too frequented clubs, where wives of contractors and small industrialists would entertain her and deliberately lose to her in game of cards – a device
to bribe her husband indirectly. They had no time for their children. In their house there was every thing except happiness.
Prashant’s wife Sundri was a good mother but an ambitious and impatient one. She wanted to marry Sugandh as early as possible and in a rich family – even though she had little money to perform a grand marriage. An unscrupulous person tricked her to marry Sugandh to him. As a result within months the marriage broke and Sughandh came back to her home.
DEEPTI refused to follow the dictates of her mother. She worked in a offices and continued higher studies. She became a M.B.A.. and got a job in a foreign bank. Sanjay’s second son Pratish gave her great moral support. He became sick of his own family, where ill-gotten wealth caused breakdown of family relationship. He waited to marry Deepti till he became an engineer and Deepti fulfilled her family obligations, which included rehabilitating her slightly mentally handicapped youngest sister, as physiotherapist.
Sundari had totally misunderstood her mother-in-law whom she held responsible for her misfortune. She felt grateful to her, when she came to know the sacrifices she had made for the family when her husband had taken another wife, Prashant was only four years old .She was illiterate and poor. She entered into an agreement with her husband that she would not create any hungama and would not press for her rights as wife, if he promised to look after Prashant and gave him the identity of his son by visiting them periodically. He kept his promise and made life of Prashant and his family as happy as possible .The only sufferer was Prashant’s mother who surrendered her conjugal happiness for her son’s future. In the best tradition of Indian women, she stood by her son, his family and did manual work so as not to be a burden to her son. She supported Deepti in her positive struggle and gave solace to Sugandh, standing by her during emotional depression.
PRASHANT also had a break-through. His friend Sanjay, got him a job in a trust, his minister had floated. Soon the minister, was impressed by his honesty and integrity and appointed him as his personal secretary.
Deepti guided her younger sister (who had some mental debility) and helped her to become phsio-therapist Raman, the old Assistant of Prashant started a small chemical factory and offered a job to Sughandh. Without telling her mother, she joined Raman and working together, came close to Raman. Sundari who had earlier rejected Raman due to his wheatish colour and middle class status accepted him as her son-in-law, when she found Raman had brought Sugandh out of depression. The three daughters who seemed such huge liabalities to Sundari, ultimately proved assets .
Sanjay on the other hand paid the price of his evil deeds. He was suspended on charges of corruption. His elder son became an alcoholic.
Malti Buwa’s Son Birju, charged with murder was saved by a politician. But he in turn, used him as his muscle-man. Malti Buwa married him to a simple girl under the impression that she would control him, but Birju was incorrigible.He met his death at the hand of his rival muscle-man. In the end it was not Birju but his young widow, who looked after Malti Buwa in her old age.