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A candid account of a daughter in law’s woes when her judgemental and controlling in laws make long visits, caging her and curtailing her freedom to live.
My friend was visibly perturbed – she had no idea what to do. I tried to pacify her and confronted her with my questions as to the reason why was she so disturbed.
My repeated requests to calm her down did no good to her, she was almost on the verge of crying.
I just lost my cool and almost screamed at her, as I was scared, and could not get anything out of her for a while. The tears rolled down her cheeks and she in her child like innocence said “that her in-laws were visiting her for an unspecified period of time“.
“Oh no!” was my immediate reaction. I could not hide my displeasure at the disclosure of her worry. I tried to pacify her, but half heartedly, as I myself was not comfortable at the revelation.
“So what – they are just your in-laws, not monsters. They are your husband’s parents, his mother and father, that’s it.”
By this time she had enough of my fake consoling , she just lambasted at me. For the next few minutes, what I heard was absolutely shocking and sad. I felt sorry for the poor educated modern girl, who had sleepless nights at the mere mention of her incoming in-laws.
She could be no longer be her free self, her house would soon turn into a prison, where she could not herself relax when her in-laws were around. Their stay with her would mean being dressed head to toe with a dupatta to cover. Getting up early morning, without disturbing them and getting the kids ready for school with pin drop silence.
After sending them, it was time for her to decide the menu for the whole day. Though her in-laws were old with gastric troubles, they wanted to start their day with tea followed by proper heavy breakfast. The moment she was free from morning chores, it was time for a lavish lunch followed by evening snacks and subsequently planning for the wide spread in the evening.
This was just one task of the day, which took a major part of her day. Apart from all this, she had no alone time. She had kids to attend to, from their studies to food.
But her in-laws kept a close eye on her, during all this while. They monitored each call she made, whether on landline or her mobile. They taunted her on attending her calls and strictly monitored her cooking, with constant complains about spicy food.
Her absence from home, for even a few seconds was scorned. She was like a caged bird now. She had lost her freedom. She could no longer meet her friends – every outing meant going with her in-laws. She could not talk to them for long, as the topic most of the times diverted to sanskaars and being a sanskaari bahu.
They felt offended if she took an afternoon nap to refresh herself – for them, she was a lifeless being, who had to keep in mind their requirements, whether it was taking care of their laundry or setting their crumbled bedsheets. She had to clean the toilet even alternate day without fail.
When the maid came for work, the in-laws did not like it – they criticised the daughter in law for availing her services and herself doing nothing. She could not eat with the family when her in-laws were around, she was kept standing near the table and serving hot chapattis. She was expected to pick up the used plates of her in-laws, which she readily did out of respect but they took it as her subservience.
The visit of her in-laws meant a full time, nonstop job of being a helper, where you were given no salary but only comments and criticism in hushed tones. During morning walks when her in-laws accompanied her, they could no longer keep pace with her, which meant that she could no longer walk but had to escort them back home.
Her friends who came visiting her, were scrutinised and given scornful looks. Her movements were limited and confined to four walls only. The slight delay in food preparation, meant a long list of complaints.
They moved all over the place, threw their weight around, monitored every move of her like the owners of the house but always asked for royal treatment like guests. They never contributed in expenditures but kept a strict vigil on the wastage. The sweet taunts were given every now and then, which she could no longer take.
And in this regard I myself was helpless, I could not help her despite my willingness to do so. I wish her in-laws were more like her parents if not fully. But of course, ‘Fish and visitors smell in three days‘.
If people pretending to be guests stay for extended periods, even if they are your in-laws, it is an issue today. These are the times and age of a nuclear family – Lucky are those who have a joint family but only if daughter-in-laws are considered as family members.
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