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.
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.