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After my marriage, my MIL seemed to think I would be reincarnated into her ideal bahu. Since that didn’t happen, this is what she does now!
As a kid, whenever someone asked me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would promptly and boldly say, ‘A writer.’ Never once did I say, ‘A writer with the added responsibility of a House Manager, care-taker, nanny, cleaner and cook.’
My parents supported my dreams and guided me to become an independent and strong-willed woman. Everything was going great until one day I fell in love and decided to get married.
After tying the knot, I realised that marriage, especially an arranged marriage is the biggest scam of all time! It is like knowingly motivating an innocent soul to go fishing in incredibly troubled waters. Once it has happened, not even Sima Aunty (of Indian Matchmaking) can do anything about it. Of course, one can blame their stars but it’s too late for that by then.
In our twisted world, for some people, the saat phere is basically a reincarnation ceremony of the bride. For example, my in-laws still can’t accept me the way I am.
I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them crossing their fingers and hoping that I changed while the ceremony was going on. They must probably have whole-heartedly prayed to the God of fire to reincarnate me with the spirit of a super-duper sanskaari DIL.
But alas! Even the God of fire called it quits when I decided not to let go of my true self.
Since there was no change, my in-laws are looking for a healthy alternative to politely upgrade or modify me according to their liking. As a first step of the process, I am constantly directly and indirectly told to forget my childhood dreams, learnings, behaviour and traditions. In fact, I am also told to change the way I laugh, talk and modify my sleeping and eating habits.
Sadly, my in-laws, relatives and even some friends are the pallbearers of this twisted system. It is seemingly normal for them to demand that I forget my old life and that these new people need to be a bigger priority of mine.
Further, I am forced to call my MIL Maa-ji and my DIL Papa-ji. I don’t really understand why I need to call someone mother father when I hardly know them. Especially when they don’t even behave like parents! And another thing I don’t understand is the ji business. Why are they seeking this forced respect from me when their own son doesn’t give it to them?
In fact, even when he has to touch their feet, he only bends down to their knees. On the other hand, instead of wishing them ‘good morning’ or ‘good night,’ I am forced to take a pallu on my head, touch their feet and seek their blessings. I have to do this, every day before I start or end my day, no matter what.
While I don’t know about others, in my case, this reincarnation was one-sided. My husband is still considered a kid while I have to be the grown-up mature person who will smile and follow all the traditions.
There are times when I laugh to myself thinking that my MIL’s attitude toward me is akin to that of a jealous ex. The looks she gives me all day long are hard to ignore. Her arms are always open for her son. And she is just waiting like a flamingo for the day when her son realises his ‘mistake’ and leaves me for good. For the day when he goes back to his mother.
To show everyone my ‘true’ self and colours, she has now begun gathering evidence against me. All this just so that she can prove her point against me to the whole family. Whenever I am in the house, she follows me around like a meerkat – poking her head out of every window and door to take note of my actions.
My suhaag marks weren’t prominent enough, the pallu fell from my head, I wasn’t wearing a saree, I spoke at length on the phone and I wasn’t polite to my husband. All these are things she seems to keep a note on.
Once she has enough evidence, she summons everyone in the house in her backbiting paradise. And one by one, she reveals all the cards of my mistakes. You can call it her version of ‘Teen Patti.’ Depending on the gravity of my mistakes, this game is played weekly or some times even bi-weekly!
After she’s displayed all of my mistakes, the other members of the family get to choose the top three errors I’ve made that week. These can be anything. Like maybe I woke up late or didn’t wash the utensils or my pallu dropped from my head. Or these can also be my office work and calls disturbing their peace or the fact that I laughed loudly once. The mistakes are picked at random.
During this process, the smaller mistakes like getting into a mood or not tying my hair are sidelined. Meanwhile, the bigger mistakes like answering back or asking my husband to help in the kitchen are picked up for heated discussions.
Just like in teen patti, the member with the highest-ranking hand (list of mistakes) wins the pot. Once the errors are picked and chosen, I am grilled at length for those. While pointing out my mistakes, my MIL takes these slow pauses, followed by a smile of dominance. Her deep breaths often make it seem like she’s deriving some pleasure from all these activities.
This game is also like her version of ‘pawri!’ ‘Yeh main hu, yeh meri bahu hain. Aur yeh non-sanskaari ho rahi hai.’ (This is me, this is my DIL. And here she’s being non-sanskaari!)
Luckily, I still have my true self intact. So instead of fighting or arguing with them, I usually smile and calmly agree with them. ‘Yeah, what to do? I am not that good. My parents tried their best to teach me how to be a good bahu but even they called it quits after a point.’ Or I say, ‘I agree I am not that good but now at the age of 30, there isn’t enough scope for me to change, is there?’
In fact, I even say this to them, ‘You guys can blame Rahul. He was the one who proposed to me and should’ve known that you wanted a maid with a robotic heart to do all the work.’ Some times, I end it with this – ‘What I do is really feel bad for you, Maa ji that you got such a strong-willed and self-respecting DIL.’
Honestly, I love seeing their shocked faces when say these things. After this, I hug my MIL and leave the room smiling at my victory. This is my version of pawri, not letting her get the complete pleasure in it!
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Sau Din Saas Ke
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