When you marry for love as against the arranged marriage circuit, something changes forever as far as parents (both sides) are concerned. Whether that change is for good or bad, you don’t realize it until you are married.
My very close friend from college fell in love with her colleague at work and both decided to get married. Boy comes from a rich Bihari-business class background and my friend hails from a traditional, middle-class South-Indian Brahmin family. While parents agreed to the match (rather reluctantly, as I witnessed the wedding and the ceremony didn’t quite strike me as a usual happy-mad-rushed event that most Indian marriages are).
Two years later, I get a call from my friend — now settled in Gurgaon along with her in-laws. (Let’s call her Mrs F)
Once the formalities were over, Mrs F launches into a tirade. Here’s the grammatically correct version of my telephonic but psychiatric session with her.
Mrs F: I am telling you never get into an inter-caste, inter regional marriage.
Me: Er…Why do you say so?
Mrs F: Arey, there are just too many issues. The mother-in-law has changed for worse and continues to evolve. I can live with the fact that she doesn’t want to embrace me as her daughter-in-law but she can at least give it a shot, since we all are living together in the same house.
Me: Hmm…sure sure.
Mrs F: You know what an inter-faith marriage begins with the decision to love. It is a decision that immediately put us (the couple) outside the traditional system which was followed by my MIL and father-in-law.
Mrs F: But I am at my wits end when I have to handle a controlling and manipulative MIL.
Me: So, what do you do
Mrs F: One way of dealing with this, or so I thought, was to let my husband know she upsets me and that he should handle the situation since he’s closer to his mother.
Me: Did that work?
Mrs F: No. Well, not every time. She would like to see me cook meats and I cant (pardon my south-indian upbringing), then complains day-long to whoever would listen on how much work she has to do. One dish and she’s all upset. Not that I order her to cook meals but since I am vegetarian.. cant she acknowledge the fact and back off? Then again, my husband can stand up for me once,twice, thrice…but she does this on a regular basis and poor man has no energy to invest after 14 hours at work. So, I am the one who has to make do with her complaints — ranging from the tadka I give in daal to the shape of chapatis! MIL seems to never smile at my efforts.
Me: That does sound a bit too much. She does this regularly?
Mrs F: Don’t ask re. Just last weekend, she complained of a hip ache and refused to get up from the bed. Fine, I said, don’t. So I got the kitchen chores done and decided to go to my Mom’s place with hubby. LO BEHOLD…The woman rises from her bed, gets ready in record time and is out of the door to park herself in the car, insisting that we take her to the temple.
Me: (couldn’t stop giggling at the description)
Mrs F: I am telling you, she’s just a big noisemaker. And I certainly cant deny going to temples when she insists, as otherwise I am subtly accused of being the outcast in the family and turning my husband in to a pariah!
Me: Hmm. So what do you want to do now? Have you discussed your miseries with Mr F?
Mrs F: I have. But seriously some of her antics are so quirky and weird that I have a hard time phrasing my side to make a comprehensible hearing for Mr F. I mean, she’s just too weird and does all these crazy things that on second thoughts sound so silly.
Me: Well, at least the last one you told me sounds absolutely mad.
Mrs F: Oh, crap. Here I have her on the other line. I am sure she’s calling to check when I will be home in the evening. Anyways, got to run sweetie. Ta ta.
And she cut me out to attend to her MIL. Although there were subsequent calls from Mrs F, I realised her problem was not about having to do kitchen chores or menial tasks, but it was to do with the fact that her MIL treated her differently (as versus the son or anyone else).
The next annoying bit for Mrs F was having to comply with all the religious make-beliefs of her MIL that were lathered upon. Being from another religion, every time she tried to drive across her point of view, she was easily the centre her MIL’s pointy remarks. No self-respecting woman can endure that endlessly.