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Why do we idealise the ‘perfect’ bahu? Isn’t it easier to just accept her as she is without putting the burden of being an ideal bahu on her?
Most of us are familiar with Gopi bahu and her saas or Tusli and Parvati or whoever from the daily soaps watched and preferred by most elderly women.
Why do we idealise bahus with certain qualities? And why does the bahu always need to be someone who thinks about everyone else, and cooks for everyone? Why does she still have to wake up early in the morning to make everyone breakfast even when she is working?
Times are changing and so are some husbands and mothers. However, somewhere in the back of their heads, they still want the bahus shown and idealised on TV.
Have we ever considered the fact that the girl, before her marriage, lives in a certain way with her parents. She is pampered by her family in a different house and grows up calling them maa and papa – the people who were the first to take her in their arms when she was just a few hours old.
Then she’s married and everything around her changes. She has a new father whom she might not even be comfortable with. A new mother who may not like all of her habits. And a husband who may or may not understand her, especially in the cases of some arranged marriages. New relations, a new home, one where the bed may not feel right but there’s no papa to help change it.
Without being given any time to adjust, she is expected to take the responsibility of the whole house and her new family. While papa loved tea with ginger and a little sugar, the new papa may not appreciate or like it. Her papa would’ve danced with her on the new song but this papa may not find it ideal to dance with his bahu.
Maa wouldn’t have allowed her to touch anything in the kitchen while she cooked. But suddenly, she is expected to cook four meals for the whole family. She is expected to make perfectly round pooris and rotis for the guests. If she fails to do that, she might be criticised for not having been trained well by her mother.
But can this bahu ever feel at home in a place where she is constantly judged? Can she ever find her papa and maa in her in-laws? Maybe never.
Though expecting an ideal bahu may not be wrong, more than a bahu, she must be treated as a daughter. Maybe then, she could give her 100 percent in the love and care expected from her. And maybe then, she will not just be the ideal bahu but the ideal daughter in the family too.
What if she got a bite of breakfast as she got ready for work from her mother-in-law? Or what if she got a good-bye hug from her father-in-law? Maybe then, she might like to wake early to prepare tea and lunch for the family. And this time, it will be with all her love and care and not just to prove herself.
The motto shouldn’t be to find the ideal bahu or wife for the son. It should be to give all the love and respect to the girl who left her home and family and moved to a completely different place. It takes courage to adjust to a new place and if a MIL can make it easy by giving her some care and warmth, it would be easy to find a daughter in the bahu.
Picture credits: Still from Saath Nibhana Saathiya 2
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