Dear MIL, When You Cheer For Other Women In The Family, Why Can’t You See My Trauma?

Is it easier to preach empowerment to other women, than to apply the same to those inside one's own household? Asks a daughter-in-law.

Is it easier to preach empowerment to other women, than to apply the same to those inside one’s own household? Asks a daughter-in-law.

Trigger warning: This post includes a mention of suicidal thoughts and may be triggering for survivors.

Dear Mother-In-Law,

Last evening when Janaki (our family friend’s daughter-in-law) called you, I was in kitchen, doing the dinner preparations. I could only guess what she would have said, as I heard the way you were empathetic to her, passing her strength and courage.

I too had suicidal thoughts a few months back. I was so depressed, I felt so restless and helpless, that I thought dying would be an easy option. I wonder, me being in your proximity, around you 24*7, you could not identify that? Not that I was deliberately dedicating my ears to the telephonic conversation, but there was so much silence in the house that the voice easily reached my ears.

Then my brain started churning, I went back in time. There was a day when Rashi (my husband’s cousin) had called you, to invite you for the housewarming party; she had bought a new house. And you were so happy, you even told her that she did the right thing; that a couple needs privacy after their marriage.

How were you ignorant of the fact that I have been staying in a joint family too, and that too for almost a decade now? I too might have felt the need for privacy. There would have been times when I felt the need to be with my husband and my kids only, our ‘US’ time, but our US time was always about everyone else.

Till date, even if we plan for a weekend getaway or long drive, we either have to plan it secretly without informing you or we have to take you with us; why is that so? Why doesn’t the law of privacy work in my case?

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What about my career?

Then there was a call from Manisha (my cousin sister-in-law) who called you to share the financial crunch that she was facing in the house. You motivated her and supported her so well, asking her to start doing something to support her family financially. I am well educated too – yet I took a career break so that I could take care of the kids and you can continue working hassle-free. But after five years of a break, when I felt the need to start something of my own, I turned author, and got a few paid writing projects, you were not at all supportive.

In fact, I still make it a point to give you ready tiffin in your hands at 7 AM – not that I am making it count, but I only expected a little respect from you towards my attempt to do something on my own, but it was all in vain. You could recognise her ability to do something, but why was the one relentlessly struggling to do the same in front of your very eyes invisible to you?

You bring a daughter-in-law home, not to replace a worker or to take charge of all domestic chores or to make her feel vulnerable and less valued, not to make her only sacrifice, not to make her forget her own choices and even existence at times, but you bring her home to be your son’s confidante, his life partner and companion.

As she leaves her parents’ house, she isn’t asking your son to do the same, but you should not interfere in each and everything the couple is experiencing.

All these incidents only trigger the need for woman empowerment more significantly in me. As charity begins at home, all the big women empowerment missions would be half sorted if issues like these never crept in.

If you would have contributed half of your focus in our own home, dedicated part of your vision to your near ones, my life would be very easy. Previously I used to think that since you are from a different generation and times have changed now, these issues do not make their way into your thoughts, but it hurts more after knowing that you are aware of these issues, very comfortably give solution for the same to others, but turned a blind eye when it was happening in your own home.

Your,

Suffering Daughter-In-Law.

Top image is a still from the serial Aggabai Sasubai

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