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“You always considered standing up for your wife will make you a bad son. To give importance to one relationship, you don’t need to disregard others.” A short story.
Riddhi had started enjoying cooking lately. Whenever she got time, she tried new recipes. One day, she made Abhi’s favourite Puranpoli. She served it to him and was waiting eagerly for his comments. But Abhi’s comment broke her heart “Is it a Puranpoli? How you managed to make this so hard? It should be very very soft. Why didn’t you ask my Mummy for its recipe? She cooks it best.”
Riddhi wanted to scream, “This is the first time I made it. You could have been little empathetic. I will also make it like your mom with enough practise.” But words did not come out.
This has happened over and over again since their marriage. Abhi’s mom is very good in cooking traditional Indian dishes and Abhi is quite a big fan of his mom’s cooking. But if she made any continental dish and it didn’t taste nice, Abhi would still appreciate her for trying something new at this age.
However if Riddhi failed then he never missed to make fun of her. Riddhi was also learning everything for first time after her marriage. Cooking, washing, managing home – everything was new to her. This thought never crossed Abhi’s mind though.
Riddhi and Abhi had got married a few months back. Riddhi was a bright, well-educated and career oriented girl. She had had no time for learning household chores before, since she was busy in her studies, career. Her parents too never forced her. She was not apologetic about it. She was confident of managing her new home and career ably with the support from her husband. Abhi was a nice person. He loved Riddhi, but he loved his mother the most. According to him, his mother was a perfect role model and he expected his wife to be similar to her.
While Riddhi was struggling to adjust to her new home and responsibilities, Abhi was busy praising his mother. At every given situation, he constantly compared Riddhi with his mother.
He kept saying things like “My mummy would have done like this, she would have behaved like this, she would have cooked this dish like this”, and so on. Sometimes Riddhi got very annoyed, but still she chose to keep mum.
When his Mummy came to live with them, Abhi purposely asked her to make Puranpoli. After having it, he teased Riddhi, “See this is called Puranpoli. Not the one you cook. Please Mummy, teach it to Riddhi”.
Riddhi saw that her MIL too was enjoying the teasing. They both laughed at Riddhi’s inability. Her MIL did try to help Riddhi with cooking and other chores. She behaved lovingly with Riddhi. But she did not stop Abhi from taunting Riddhi. She too seemed enjoying her son’s attention. This hurt Riddhi.
From cooking to mingling with neighbours, Abhi pointed flaws in everything. His constant comparisons with his mother were making things miserable for Riddhi. Riddhi had her prejudices about MIL yet she had thought of accepting her MIL whole heartedly. But before Riddhi could appreciate and accept her MIL, she developed strong disliking for her.
Sometimes Riddhi felt guilty about it. She wanted to tell Abhi, “For every child, his mother is special. To boost about her greatness, you don’t need to make me feel insignificant. If she is good, let me feel that. Don’t force me to accept it. Please give us opportunity to bond. Your behaviour is only creating a rift and rivalry between us.”
She could never convey her feelings to Abhi. She kept everything inside her. She loved Abhi deeply with all his imperfections. Moreover, all the teasing; comparing wife with mother – happened while they were alone or when Abhi’s family was around. Besides, Abhi used to say it in such a humorous tone that no one ever perceived it as an insult to Riddhi.
When their friends or Riddhi’s family was around, Abhi never teased Riddhi. He behaved like the perfect husband for Riddhi. He even used to praise Riddhi in the presence of her family. She sometimes got confused with Abhi’s cunning behaviour, she could literally hear ‘Narayan, Narayan’ in the background when Abhi praised her.
Gradually with practice and experience, Riddhi managed her career and home aptly. Abhi never acknowledged it, his sarcastic comments became occasional though. Riddhi also learnt to ignore his comments. His parents came to live with them often after birth of their son, Aarav.
They were married for 5 years now. After their son’s birth, Riddhi faced criticism for her upbringing ways periodically. But, she was too engrossed in motherhood to fall pray for any negativity.
When her son became three years old, Riddhi planned to put him in Play School. But his parents were against it. They considered Aarav to be too young to put in the school. Riddhi tried to explain to them the importance of early education. But Abhi was adamant. He supported his parents and accused Riddhi about being insensitive to put young Aarav in school. He told her that his parents are far more experienced in raising children, so she should leave the decision to them. Riddhi desired to tell him that she was capable of taking decision for her son. She has her own experience as a mother and knows what’s good for her son.
The otherwise polite and considerate Riddhi decided not to take it casually. She was sure it would be good for Aarav if he starts learning and mixing with children of his age. She planned to talk to Abhi after some days when her in-laws were not around. It was high time she voiced her opinion for herself and her son. She was sure if Abhi agreed, her in-laws would also agree.
After few days when her in-laws were out, Riddhi got the opportunity to talk to Abhi. She decided to talk to him in his peculiar way of sarcasm. Abhi’s promotion was due in office. Riddhi casually asked him “So, this time your office will promote you as CEO?”
Abhi gave a surprised look to Riddhi “CEO? Are you joking? I just have 8 years of experience. Our present CEO has over 20 years of experience and he is so much senior to me. He is an expert in his field. It will take at least another 5-10 years for me to gain that expertise. I am capable of handling big projects but not the entire company. How can you expect me to become CEO with just 8 years of experience?”
Riddhi replied “The same way by which you expected me to become CEO of our home since very first day of our marriage. You still have 8 years of experience and you are equally qualified as your present CEO”.
“Have you lost it? How can you compare these two things? And how can you compare me with my CEO?” Abhi snapped back.
With composure Riddhi responded, “Don’t you keep comparing me with your mother every time? Your mother has over 30 years of experience in the fields of home making, cooking, raising kids. And with no experience, you expected me to become expert in everything from day one. Is that fair to me? Do you think running home, raising kids is easier and requires no experience?”
“Your mother must have also learnt everything over time with experience. At office, you seek your boss’s guidance. But at home, you never gave me a chance to get that guidance from your mother. Because of your constant comparison, we both perceived each other as challengers. Have you allowed us to bond?”
Abhi tried to reason “I wanted to help you in learning things from my mother. And it did help you. You have become quite good with managing home.”
“No. Your comments only discouraged me from taking help from others. I learnt everything with experience and practice.”
Riddhi continued with Abhi’s weapon of comparison “You think your mother takes best decision for you. Aarav is my son. How could you think that I can ever take wrong decision for him? I know him more than anyone else. You never supported me till date yet I never complained. You always considered standing-up for your wife will make you a bad son. To give importance to one relationship, you don’t need to disregard others. Have I ever ignored you for my parents or Aarav? Please try to understand my point of view, allow me to be a good mom for my son like your mother. Allow me to improve if I fail. Don’t discourage me. I need your support, your encouragement to be a good mom”
Abhi was listening to everything in silence. For the first time he listened to Riddhi without arguing. He did not say anything to her at that time. Riddhi was happy and relieved. She wondered why she did not do it before. Earlier she had only complained. Now, finally she had spoken her heart out. Whatever she had felt in last 5 years, she had spoken about in 5 minutes. She was ready for any consequences now.
Abhi could not sleep in the night. He kept thinking about Riddhi. He had never raised his voice or hand on her. Still he had hurt her with his cunningness. He liked her but never admitted this in front of his family. He wanted to show his parents that like his elder brother that he too cared for his parents more than his wife. He always placed his parents before Riddhi and took pride in it. Ridiculing his wife, not respecting her wishes were his ways of showing respect to his parents. He intentionally planned everything to make Riddhi the ideal DIL for his parents. He controlled Riddhi so that she didn’t go against his wishes. He overlooked his wife to be a good son.
At the same time he didn’t want to lose Riddhi, so he behaved caringly around her family and friends. If Riddhi ever complained to him about his or his parents’ behaviour, he simply ignored her and asked her to be considerate. But now he understood that his cunning way of creating closeness was actually drifting Riddhi away from him and his family. He decided to support Riddhi.
Riddhi woke up fresh early in the morning. Abhi and Aarav were still sleeping. She went for morning walk. After so many years, she felt peaceful. When she got back home, Aarav came running towards her, “Mamma, see what Papa is doing to me. He brushed my teeth with wrong toothpaste, he gave me milk without Bournvita and now he was going to give me bath with your soap. He doesn’t know anything. Where were you? Why did you ask him to do my work? He just kept saying we are going to my new school and we have to get ready before you come.”
Riddhi looked at Abhi who was standing puzzled and embarrassed. He just smiled at Riddhi and said, “This is my first time. I will learn with practice!”
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock