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Why is it considered ‘entirely normal’ for the new daughter-in-law of a home to be loaded with all the chores?
It is 12:41 a.m. and I am awake, writing. I got married a few weeks ago, with great pomp and show. I was loaded with expensive jewellery and clothes. I looked like the most beautiful bride in the world that day. My father placed my hand in my husband’s and my mother bid me farewell with teary eyes.
I received a nice welcome at my in-laws’ house too. The family consists of seven members, including my husband and his two older sisters (who are my nanad/sisters-in-law), my brother-in-law (or dewar), and my father and mother-in-law. A day passed, then another and another, each with a new sunset, new people, a new way of living, and a new home.
After a few days, I started my office work, from home of course. I work as a full time employee for a firm, and, it seems, for this home too.
Let me give you a peek into my daily schedule.
My day starts at 6:30 a.m in the morning. I get up and greet my mother-in-law by touching her feet. Then I freshen up and take a broom and clean my room. Then, I wash the utensils, make tea for my father-in-law. Later, I take a bath as my mother-in-law has instructed me not to cook for the elders without bathing. I rush back to the kitchen to help my mother-in-law in preparing breakfast. Once the breakfast is ready and I’ve served it, I eat. The moment I finish breakfast, I clean up the kitchen. By 10 a.m. I’m back in my room and start doing my office work. I work till noon because I have to prepare lunch as well.
I spend the next two hours in the kitchen, cooking lunch and washing utensils. After doing all these chores and having lunch myself, I get back to work at 2:30 p.m. I work for the next two hours and then get up to prepare tea for the family. Once again I clean up and sit back down to work till 6:30 p.m. The evening puja is followed by cleaning some utensils of the temple. As I pray, I ask God for more strength to bear with everything, with a smile on my face.
As soon as I am done with my prayers, I get back into the kitchen to prepare dinner. I serve the dinner and then pick up everyone’s plates to put them in a sink to wash them. After cleaning up, I boil the milk to give it to everyone before they sleep. I get back to work at 10:30 p.m. I try finishing it but eventually, I cannot help but fall asleep.
I try to increase my capacity as much as I can, though not a month has gone by since I first came here. I arrived with the hopes of being treated like a queen. But now, I feel like an educated woman who is a maid. I try to escape my days here by wishing for them to pass soon, as my papa had promised to come in January to take me home.
I had so many dreams for my Sasural, all of which have become nightmares. I don’t know if I would ever want to come back here after leaving. My sister-in-law tells me that this is normal for bahus (daughters-in-law) in our part of the world to work so much. And please don’t consider the family to be poor, as the members are well-earning, as a middle class family. This is so normal for all of them that they don’t even recognise my pain.
The last one month here has changed me completely – the happy and cheerful girl in me has turned into a sad woman who fakes her smiles and pushes herself to live each day of her life here. And then this society says, Daughters-in-law are Daughters too!
I don’t know if what I write will have its space and get published. But I wanted to share my pain with the world and so, I did.
Top image is a still from the Hindi serial Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Mein
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