Son-in-law, one of the most revered people in the family, always has a special place in his in-laws’ hearts. Here’s the story of how a son-in-law became a son!
In India, sons-in-law are the most worshipped people after God Almighty. If you don’t believe me, look around yourself! They are ubiquitous!
This story is about one such son-in-law. Yes, you guessed it right, my husband, the son-in-law to my parents.
It was the first Holi after out marriage and following the traditions, we went to celebrate it at my parents’ place, my maika.
My parents were elated. The siblings were excited. I was nervous thinking about him adjusting well with my family members.
Being the first one to get married amongst the seven siblings-cousins of the joint family, gave me tremors and goosebumps. I hope they gel well, I prayed relentlessly.
On the destined day, I reached home and saw my house. The emotional weight of past months that sat heavy on my heart, erupted. I ran to hug my mother, she held me tight, wiped my tears, kissed my forehead and then she disappeared. No pleasantries exchanged, like the ones over phone calls, nothing. And all these happened in split seconds.
She zoomed past me and reappeared to welcome her son-in-law. As he touched her feet, she showered him with all the blessings she knew by heart.
My father did the same but he spent a few more seconds with me and a half less with him. Half a dozen brothers and sisters rhymed together to welcome him. Must have practiced.
Some took the luggage, a few the backpacks and the rest followed him. I stood there pleading with my brother to help me with my trolley bag.
As we went inside, the house looked no less than a palace. Let me explain, with such an overcrowded house, it remained a mess most of the time. We used to clean it thoroughly when we had guests, parties or any visitors. Today every nook and corner was shining bright. I asked my sister, “Mikku, who cleaned this dumpster?”
She smirked and narrowed her eyebrows, “What di, it’s usually like this no. But Sweety and I did a little touch up yesterday.”
Touch up, aha! In the meantime, Maa scolded them a hundredth time for not letting Nitin go and freshen up.
Happy, my brother, showed him the way up to the restroom and asked him not to hesitate to ask help.
It was almost lunch time. Nitin came to me rubbing his belly to plead, “I am already full with the snacks, see. I can not eat any more. Please tell Maa that I do not feel like eating lunch now.”
I conveyed the same to my father who was waiting by the dining table. He scolded me, “You should have insisted. He must be feeling shy.”
He went himself and said lovingly, “I have cooked mutton for you. I am sure you will love it.”
At his place they cook mutton, at my place they had prepared the same, where in hell was paneer?
My home had suddenly turned into his empire. Days passed and my jealously mounted to horror. His parents were his, my parents were becoming his, what was going on Earth on here?
God has balanced everything in nature. He created parents-in-law to pamper and brother and sister-in-laws to damper the liberal hospitality.
The most awaited day arrived. He pleaded with my mother, “Maa, please tell them to go easy. I do not like a lot of these colours.” She assured him, unconvincingly.
“Di, is he allergic to colours? He requested us to use organic colours.” My brother verified with me.
I rejected it thoroughly, “My mother-in-law has told me his mischievous stories of Holi. Do whatever you want to do, bro.”
That night they planned, they prepared and saved it for execution.
It started at midnight. Mikku had asked me to keep the door ajar once he was fast asleep. Inauguration was whiz-bang.
He got up in the morning and asked for his tea. Everyone was trying to suppress their laughter. Something clicked, and he ran to check himself in the mirror. He could not recognise himself. He washed his face and ate his breakfast filled with trepidation. The game was set.
The next day he was dipped in organic colours, chemical ones and, aimed with the colour balloons and given a mud spa. Later he was plunged into the water pool. My mother shouted at everyone, “Careful, do not hurt him.”
Then she said something which changed the sight, “Beta, play along. Do not withdraw yourself in hesitancy.” He complied like a faithful son. And proceeded to drag everyone into the mud, submerged whoever he got hold off into the water pool and painted all the faces he met his way. They all played till every bit of energy was drained from their body.
It was afternoon when Maa asked everyone to take a bath. She told him, “Use this soap. It will wash off the colours without harming the skin.”
“Give him some detergent,” giggled the youngest one.
They discussed, “Don’t you think Maa is favouring him a lot?”
“Felt bad now? I am feeling cornered since the day I came.”
Everyone laughed. We enjoyed the day with food, colour and family. Nitin said at dinner, “It is one craziest Holi I played. And Maa, she is the most caring one amongst all.”
I beamed from ear to ear at the fact that they bonded so well. He was trying hard to get along with my family.
My mother had never stopped loving me, it had just extended towards the newest member of the family – her son-in-law. My father had got a news partner, politics analyser and a son.
The ten days of time sped up towards the end. Nitin hugged his mother-in-law, wiped her tears and said, “Take care of yourself Maa. And do not worry about her. We will take care.”
She laughed softly wiping away her tears.
He is family.
During our journey back home he said, “You have compromised a lot to fit into our family. Let us declutter the unnecessary ones.”
It was my turn to smile whole heartedly.
I am still against the royalty like treatment of sons-in-law, but time and interaction helps to bond well with each other, like a family.
It has been years now, I still long for that Holi vacation at my place. And as they say, firsts are always beautiful.
Picture credits: Screenshot from web-series What The Folks Season 1.
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A researcher, an advocate of equal rights, homemaker, a mother, blogger and an avid reader.
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