Lessons Learned from my Mother-in-Law

Rubina Lessons Learned from my Mother in Law

Rubina Ramesh

At the age of 23, I stepped into a world totally alien to my upbringing. I still remember my relatives howling on my wedding day. Their main concern was – ‘How can she, being a Bengali, survive without fish and rice?’ Not one person cried, much to my dismay that I was going to leave home soon. I still remember the day before I was moving to Delhi with my newlywed husband, my mom and aunts made 22 different dishes of fishes, irrespective of the fact that I had a very small appetite due to my nervousness. My aunt told me at least a hundred times that I have made the biggest mistake in my life in marrying a Tamil Iyengar. But the deed was done and my fate was already sealed. Romance was slowly being touched by the tint of grey.

Lesson 1: Any Relationship needs time and effort.

My mother-in-law and I were loggerheads. Not the screaming and screeching kind. The silent kind. If silence could kill, this would be my rebirth. But strangely and unknowingly, we both had made one self rule. Men of the household will not interfere. Whatever problems we had we would solve it between us. Even if not amicably, at least in civil manner. Not once had she complained to her son regarding me and even when I was itching to do so, I refrained. After three months, she ordered me – ‘Lets go shopping.’

Lesson 2: United front

Relatives can be a boon or a bane. One such ‘Athai’ (aunt) who would frequent our house would not leave without commenting how the Bengali could not speak Tamil. Such a shame. In my defense, all I can say is that I am no linguist. I have passed Sanskrit examination in my school after mugging it to death. But that day, when that lady was enjoying herself at my expense, my mother-in-law stood up and politely asked her to leave. Her exact words were – ‘if my son cannot learn Bengali, why should my daughter-in-law learn Tamil?’

I almost fell down and stared at her. After Athai went away, I thanked my MIL. She told me abruptly that our personal problems should not go outside the walls of the house. My dreams of a Rajshree Production Household shattered.

Lesson 3: To bend is not to break

I strongly believe in women’s rights. Indian women during their mensuration days not only fight a hormonal battle but also social and religious ones. It was for the first time I realized that I could not even enter the kitchen in my house and eat from the utensils kept in the kitchen. There was a different set of utensils for that. The woman in me objected and I refused. Let’s say it was a world war III. Sadly, I ended up looking like Hitler. And as I had made the stupid rule, my hubby did not interfere. In my anger, I called my mom up – the antithesis of my MIL. But my mom only said one thing, ‘if you are living in her house, it is her rule. You’ve to follow it. When you come here, you can do what you want.’ I was deflated. The woman in me protested. And then when all the other relatives where screaming and shouting, my Mil came to my room and told me – ‘why are you angry with this rule? You should accept it happily.’ Reasoning? Three days of holiday. To do what I like, go out and not bother about the household work. For the first time, we both giggled like two kids. That is one moment I will cherish all my life.

It took me more than a year to accept her as my Mom and it took her more than a year to accept me as a daughter. What can I say? Some relationships take long to form, but when they do they are for life.

About Rubina

Rubina Ramesh is a writer/ blogger at The Book Club. Her passion for books made her realize that there is world of book lovers out there. Her writing stint started with Indireads and now she is working on two manuscripts – a Romance and a mythological. She just hopes they see the light of the day soon.

  • Neelesh Inamdar

    Great post Rubina. Lucky to bag a MIL who is more of a saheli than a saas. I liked your humorous approach. Next time your relatives plan to cook 22 kinds of fish please let me know in advance.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Neelesh. I wish next time someone makes 22 kinds of fish, they call me too. That was the only day I was given so much importance. Come to think of it now, it almost sounds like a farewell party :D Gayi ghar se.. bach gaye :P

  • Sonia Rao

    Not a Rajshree Productions Household?!?! It definitely is. A very heart-warming read :)

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thank you so much Sonia. Even me very happy that it did not turn out to be Ramsay Productions….makeup kharab ho jata :O

  • reetwrite

    Lovely anecdotes; made me teary eyed. Rich memories!

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Reet. :D

  • Sundari Venkatraman

    That was fun! You obviously went through some trauma too. But great way to present it :D

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Trauma and me :P You know me too well for that … It wasn’t fun .. till I saw the positiveness in the whole situation. After that it was a merry dance.

  • http://infinitedreamzzz.blogspot.com/ Nikita

    I have a Tamil Iyer mom and a Punjabi dad and I had the same rule in my house. I couldn’t even touch my own clothes. I used to hate it earlier when I didn’t have my own bed and had to sleep on the floor. But when I had my own bed, it lived those three days like royalty. My clothes were picked out, my food was served to me, no one even bothered to ask me to do any chores – I could do whatever I wanted. It was bliss.

    Now that I am married and I live only with my husband, I can’t apply that rule even if I want to because there’s no one else to take over.. :'(

    Your story was an interesting read… This is the first time I’ve heard of a Bengali-Tamil combination… :)

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Nikita. Kasam se.. I tell you. If anyone asks me what I am missing the most about my MIL… it is this very rule I was fighting against. It was lovely sitting on my bed reading a book for 3-5 days and watching her and everyone else in the household working. I miss it so much :D I will start again when my DIL comes.. And will tell her that this rule is only for senior citizens… not want to make the mistake my MIL did :P

  • Seeta

    I could associate with this post so well! I am a Goan married to an Iyengar so we def. have fish in common here :) Faced similar things with my MIL but she has been a sport, a lot like how you described your MIL to be… there are creases that I come across here and there but they get ironed out with time.. but the non veg part is one discussion we have tried to steer clear from for now.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Seeta. How did you solve your ‘fishy situation’. I hope my MIl does not see this but I did cheat here and there. :) Thankfully, my hubby eats everythind under the sun. So at home it is a no no but outside sometimes.. I cheat shamelessly.

      • Seeta

        Well we live separately so its easier for me I guess, but they don’t like the idea of me eating non veg. One thing I did realize was that one shouldnt give up their natural diet.. our biological system is too used to it, giving it up will only work against it.

  • http://tnahsingarg.tumblr.com/ Tnahsin Garg

    “Some relationships take long to form, but when they do they are for life.” – Agree!

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Tnashin. Nice to be on the other side the pages for a change :P

  • http://www.iwrotethose.com Sid @ iWroteThose

    It’s true what they say right – There is always a silver lining. Of course, sometimes it just takes longer to find that. And of course, in this case, the effort was made from both sides. It was lovely readingthese “lessons” :) Not many people can say that their MIL taught them stuff :)

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thank you so much Sid Yes i have been lucky in some ways I guess :D

  • Renita D’Silva

    Wow! What a wonderful post. Thank you.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks a ton Renita :D

  • ghata singhal

    ha ha….very cute!

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Ghata :D

  • Janaki Nagaraj

    Loved reading it. I can only imagine what you must have gone through…but, a great gesture on your MIL part too.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Janu, that time it was not fun.. now I find it hilarious… have maintained a notebook too… titiled.. ’20 years of wooing…..your MIL :P

      • Sumeetha Manikandan

        Wooing your MIL sounds like a great blog post. How about it Rubina?

        • Sundari Venkatraman

          Sounds more suited for a script than a blog unless you are planning a series of course ;)

          • Sumeetha Manikandan

            Good idea Sundari. But I was wooing Rubina to write another blog here he he :)

          • Rubina Ramesh

            I am wooed :)

      • Janaki Nagaraj

        Wow! that must be some treasure.


    Well, I am 23 but I am not married… and even scared of MLA ( whoever it will be ) :P :D But this article gave me courage and I loved the way you wrote, Rubina di :)

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Aparajita…. Don’t be scared of MIL.. they are equally scared of us. :P

  • Latha

    Came here from Sridevi’s share of this post on FB. I really loved the way how you made it work. Sometimes, perseverance works and you did a great job. :) Little bit of patience on our side and it could make wonders sometimes.

    • Rubina Ramesh

      Thanks Latha. WIll thanks Sri also. She is a sweetheart. :)

  • http://www.bigaandlittlea.com/ Roshni Aamom

    Your MIL sounds awesome!! I too got really angry about the menstruation rule and told my MIL that I would not follow it!

    • Rubina Ramesh

      She is Roshni. Of course she has her own quirks and I have fine. Over time even if we don’t like each other’s quirks we have learnt to ignore it :D

  • Adite Banerjie

    Great post… could have been titled ‘kabhi khushi, kabhi gham’…and definitely worth a KJo production — if not a Rajashree one! ;)

  • Ranveer vishal

    That’s quite an interesting post on two different cultures. But what matters, I feel, having a common ground and celebrating differences. As long as your individuality is not sacrificed, enjoy the differences.

  • http://anitaexplorer.blogspot.in/ Anita

    Really nice, touching & heart-warming, Rubina!
    So, all is well now! Best wishes :)

  • Gopi Kanna

    How beautifully you ignored the expected cliches of “Religious conflict ” and went straight into more important aspects of Culinary harmony and domestic peace initiatives…Kudos…You are a terrifc Blogger..