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Let me be honest with you Siya, you made a mistake. You made a mistake when you chose to suppress your identity and accepted everything just as it came.
Siya felt a tight rope around her neck that was choking her badly. Something very heavy was tied to her feet that was pulling her under the deep waters and she was continuously striving for breath. And she woke up with a start. Her heart was racing. A dream. It was all just a dream!
She checked the time and groaned… 6 am. Oh no, late again! She woke up hurriedly from her bed, bathed, changed and rushed towards the kitchen. “Good morning Mummyji,” she said, touching her mother- in-law’s feet. “Sorry, I’m late,” she said, feeling a bit ashamed as this word had been used so many times by her now in her new home. “It’s okay,” Mummyji replied. They both got busy preparing breakfast. If only everything was as normal as it appeared, Siya thought. After an hour, it was just two of them at home and an awkward silence followed.
To her relief, she heard her phone ringing in her room and she went to answer. It was her best friend Vidya. “Hey, how’s married life treating you my dear?” She chirruped from the other end. “Its fine,” Siya replied in a dull voice. “All okay? How are your husband and mother-in-law?” Vidya tried to probe.
“They are good and everything’s fine here but… I feel something amiss. I can’t point it out exactly, but I miss the warmth of my family and home. I am trying to do everything to mix in my new family, learning their ways but I feel perhaps I am not doing it right.” Siya replied.
“What makes you think that?” Vidya questioned again.
“My mother in law doesn’t seem much happy with me. I don’t know why. I have been wearing a saree everyday at home and I cook their favorite meals. I have extended my office leave so that I can spend more time with family here. In fact I am doing all the daily pooja rituals here and observing fasts with her, attending all the family functions, socializing with relatives and family friends. But still she doesn’t seem happy with me.” Siya sighed.
“Did she say anything to you?” Vidya asked. “No, she didn’t. That’s the issue na, she doesn’t tell me what I did wrong but she doesn’t communicate much with me either.” Siya explained.
“That’s the thing with mothers in law. Either they just turn rude or start a cold war to express their disapproval over something.” Vidya complained.
“I don’t think so. She has never been rude towards me. Listen, I am a little busy right now, will catch up with you later, okay? Bye!” Siya replied and disconnected the call. The whole day this conversation kept playing in her mind.
Siya was making tea in the kitchen when she heard Mummyji calling her. “Siya, this is for you,” Mummyji said, handling her a gift pack.
She was surprised. “But what is this for?” She asked. “Do I need a reason to gift something to you?” Mummyji asked.
Siya smiled and opened the pack. Inside it she found a pair of jeans in her favourite ice blue shade. “Jeans!’ she exclaimed, her face lighting up. Mummyji looked at her with a smile and said ‘THIS! This is the look I have been waiting to see on your face since the day you arrived here.”
Siya was taken aback. “But Mummyji, I haven’t seen any married woman in our family here wearing jeans or any other western dress,” Siya said.
“That’s because, they chose that for themselves, and I do what I do because I choose that. Things won’t change, unless you try. But change is never easy my dear. Between us, I am ready to do my bit because I noticed that you are already doing yours,” Mummyji said, smiling at Siya.
“Let me be honest with you Siya, you made a mistake. You made a mistake when you chose to suppress your identity and accepted everything just as it came. I assumed that it was what you wanted when you chose to wear a saree despite being uncomfortable. You chose to extend your leave when you know that your work is already piling up at office, and I assumed you did that because you needed a break from office work. You chose to do all the rituals and everything else to prove that you are an ‘ideal bahu’. All your choices… you were never asked to do all that. Expectations and assumptions are very complex things. Looking at you all this time, I realized that I had met you before, years ago.”
Siya looked surprised and confused. Mummyji continued, “Let me explain. I met you about 2 decades ago, when I saw you in my mirror and I truly felt sad for that woman who was ready to put herself last every single time. When my husband expired and I had to manage everything alone, being a single mother at 25, I made all the effort I could, not to meet that woman in the mirror ever again. Sadly, I met her again and in my own house. You were making this effort just to please people whose names you don’t even know or remember. People, who would anyhow find faults in you just as they do with everything and everyone else. And just in case you think you are doing this for me or your husband, you don’t need to. We want you to be happy with us as a part of our family. Don’t give away parts of yourself just to fit in because when people really want you in their lives, they do actually manage to fit together somehow.”
“Thank you Mummyji,’’ Siya said hugging her mother in law.
“I need to confess something Siya. I overheard you talking to your friend on phone today…’’ Now they both laughed together and home was not silent anymore.
Header image is a still from the movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
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