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“What an insolent girl you have got for a daughter in law! Better ask her to mend her ways and learn some manners, otherwise she will soon be infamous in the family.”
Kritika and Rajeev had been married for four months now. This was going to be the first family gathering of Rajeev’s relatives that she was going to be attending, so Kritika was very excited about it.
As Rajeev’s extended family was spread across the country, she had not had much of an opportunity to interact with most of them post her wedding, and she wanted to make the most of this occasion. A couple of days later they left for Rajeev’s uncle’s house, where the rest of the family was to gather.
Being a cheerful and friendly girl, she soon stuck a rapport with most of Rajeev’s relatives. In the midst of all the chatting and talking, her mother-in-law Anupama called her to help her and the others in the kitchen. Kritika entered the kitchen, sat down beside Anupama and asked her, “tell me ma, what do I need to do?” She saw a scornful look on buaji’s face, who was sitting opposite her as she finished asking the question.
Anupama had also noticed the scorn on her sister-in-law’s face, but ignoring it, handed a tray of vegetables to Kritika and asked her to chop them. As she got down to work, Kritika that realised buaji was constantly peering at her. Though it made her uncomfortable, she ignored her and went on with her work. After a certain point when she could not put up with that peering glance any longer, she looked up and smiled at buaji. But the response she received was far from cheerful. “So, you intend to cut those vegetables for the rest of the day?” she asked Kritika, with that evident scorn accompanied by a smug look.
Kritika was stunned for a second, before she quickly responded with a smile. “All this is new for me, I am still learning. But I have improved a lot in these couple of months.”
But buaji did not seem even remotely amused or happy with this response. Glaring at Kritika, she went off on a tirade. “What do you mean, it’s all new to you? Don’t tell me you are 26 and still don’t know how to cook? And to top it off you aren’t even ashamed. There are certain basics a mother needs to teach her daughter; your mother definitely forgot them. I feel so sad for my poor Rajeev.”
Kritika was seething in anger now. All this while she had tried to smile away and ignore buaji’s scorns and smirks. She had even tried to be friendly, but now she realized being nice with certain people was of no use.
Anupama, having seen the whole episode unfold quickly came to Kritika’s side and asked her leave the vegetables there and come with her, but Kritika was in no mood to let go. She told her mother in law “Ma give me two minutes” and turned to buaji.
“So what do you want me to be ashamed of, not knowing how to cook? Why, exactly should I be ashamed of that? I agree it’s a limitation not knowing an essential life skill, but I am ready to learn. Till now I had not got the opportunity, but now that I have, I am making the most of it. By the way how are you so sure, my mother did not teach me essential life skills? She taught me to be confident, courageous, independent, adaptable, sociable, build relationships, and most importantly to be humane. But I guess according to you the basics are just relegated to cooking and cleaning. You couldn’t be more wrong. It’s because of all the basics that she taught me, I am able to adapt to the new surroundings and improve on myself today. Let me tell you, learning anything new at any age is nothing shameful, but what is shameful is spending time on finding faults with others and belittling them, instead of working on improving yourself.” Kritika turned towards Anupama saying “come ma, lets go” and walked out of the kitchen.
Buaji was seething in anger, and looking at Anupama in a glowering tone, spewed the words, “What an insolent girl you have got for a daughter in law! Better ask her to mend her ways and learn some manners, otherwise she will soon be infamous in the family. Or who knows with the kind of attitude she has, even in the extended community!”
Anupama looked calmly at her sister in law as she spoke, “Didi I am happy today that I have got a really sensible daughter in law. Unlike me, Kritika has understood early in life that she cannot please everyone, so she is not afraid of standing up for herself. Don’t worry about her being infamous! Not everyone will like her, but then not everyone matters. Those who see the good in Kritika will continue liking her, and for those who don’t she can’t help it. Well if speaking up and self-confidence are considered bad manners, then I intend to continue supporting her to build further on those bad manners.” Hearing Anupama’s response, buaji was stunned, but Kritika had a wide smile on her face and tons more of respect in her heart for her mother in law.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: a still from the movie Manmarziyaan
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