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Dear MIL, I Am Not You, I Am My Own Person And It’s Time You Accepted That!

Posted: November 21, 2020

Like almost every MIL and DIL, my MIL and I too share a bitter-sweet relationship. But here are a few things I would like her to know.

What do you mean when you call me ‘bahuraani’? Queen? Like a queenly queen? As in a bejewelled queen treated with care? Well, I am sure you don’t mean that! Oh come on, you just say it. That’s just your lips saying it.

No, I will not take a shower as soon as I wake up in the morning. I need my cup of chai first. It helps me, a hypermetropic with a +5 bifocal see the world better. And your son and I may have had sex last night, but I cleaned myself after that! So this has nothing to do with hygiene.

No, I wasn’t aware that your kitchen is akin to a temple until the day after the wedding when I entered it without a shower. There really was no need for all the hue and cry, I simply didn’t know it. Someone from your family, or maybe even your son should’ve informed me. This has nothing to do with my maturity.

I simply tend to do things my way!

No, the bottle gourd does not have only on the recipe – yours! The number of recipes it has is directly proportional to the number of people and their personal tastes. That’s probably why you don’t like my recipe because it lacks one core ingredient i.e. you. This has nothing to do with my cooking skills.

No, I didn’t cry during my bidaai. Rather, I had to force some tears out of my eyes to please and suit the society’s standards.  To me, it was just another trip back to Bangalore. It was just like I had travelled a million times between Jamshedpur and Bangalore when I was studying and later, for work. This had nothing to do with the attachment I have to my parents.

No, I don’t know how to make thekuas, laddoos, shakarparas or kheer but neither does your son! And I also know your friend’s DIL does it with panache and aplomb. I’ve seen the Facebook pictures. But I neither have the talent, nor the interest. My mother taught me to be financially independent and not traditional pickle recipes. If we need pickles, we get the store-bought khatta-meetha achar. This has nothing to do with my upbringing.

I don’t do things like your friends’ DILs do

No, I do not do a nirjala karwachauth. Personally, I don’t think my fasting has anything to do with my husband’s lifespan. I haven’t fasted in my entire life and if I don’t drink water first thing in the morning, I feel dizzy and sick.

Your friend Mrs. Sinha’s DIL does the nirjala and that is her choice. I just cannot. Dressing up like a stereotypical bride with the mehendi and jewellery isn’t my thing either. Personally, I like things to be simple.

This karwachauth, we ordered food from outside. As a working couple, we really didn’t get time to cook or do any of the other rituals. None of this has anything to do with the love I have for my husband aka your son.

No, I am not ‘gori,’ or ‘peeli.’ The haldi ritual in the wedding created an illusion of fair skin. On the contrary, I am sanwaali, more chestnut skinned while your son is wheatish too! Together we have a great wheatish life! This has nothing to do with my beauty.

And I am not perfect, either

No, I don’t light an incense stick every day at the altar or do elaborate poojas for Navratri or track Chaturdashi or Puranmashi. Does that make unreligious in your eyes? Maybe. However, my God is in my intentions, words and karma. I am not very fastidious about observing rituals and neither were my parents. This has nothing to do with my love or faith.

No, I do not wait for your son at the dinner table for eternity. You see, he is often busy with work calls and gets late and I find it difficult not to respond to hunger calls. When we visit Bangalore, I am sure you don’t notice this, but I detest waiting for the men to finish eating. And only after they are comfortably seated on the couch in front of the TV, do we eat. So, if he is late, I finish my food and keep his plate in the microwave. Again, no love lost here. It’s just biology!

No, I am not an ace at household chores nor am I a perfect parent. I am not great at work or social duos. Basically, I am not an ace at anything and I wear my imperfection like a crown. I try to be realistic about what I can and cannot do. That doesn’t mean I have failed and neither does it mean that I am not trying.

All I want is for us to have an understanding relationship

Lastly, I do not have any rivalry with you. The only reason I am penning this down is that it helps me. You are important to me and I try to show it to you in various ways when I visit you or when we talk on video calls.

Every time you’re here, I make sure that you never have to step into the kitchen when I am around. I make sure to follow the rules you’ve set when it comes to dressing and behaving. In fact, I try to follow the trail you walk on.

When I am with you, I yearn for freedom and long for heartwarming conversations. I ache for some understanding. If you fear loosening the reigns will make me footloose and fancy-free, but if you hold me too tight, I might escape. My mother didn’t teach me this, life did.

“Relationships – of all kinds- are like sand in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto it, but most will be spilled. A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.” – Kaleel Jamison

Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Lockdown Ki Love Story

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