I recently came across a book The Mother-in-law by Veena Venugopal, which to my mind was purely fictional, with rib-tickling scenarios between the mother and daughter in law. It turned out however to be more of a horror story wherein it portrays how the present age mothers in law are more of a terror rather than being a person who makes the new member of the family welcome.
The book made me think about all the I’ve stories heard from my friends and acquaintances… no matter how good a person may otherwise be, as soon as the daughter in law enters, some dormant gene gets activated and the devil makes its appearance! It all made me think the cause, the reason behind it all. Is it something to do with power and control? The fact that women in India have always been subjugated to violence, have been ‘domesticated’, not allowed to work etc., is it possible that she sees this to be an opportunity to enforce some kind of dominance over another being? But then that leads me to another thought… if she had gone through a painful experience with her mother in law, shouldn’t she be more empathetic towards her own daughter in law rather than seek revenge from a person who had absolutely nothing to do with her sob story? But one thought that puzzles me the most… How come the doting mother wants to ruin the matrimonial life of her own son? Or is she so blind to this fact and ultimately blames the daughter in law for it? I have heard a few of them narrate… we gave her everything! We gave her clothes, books, everything her heart could desire, but she still treated us as dirt! Never mentioning once how they were also interfering and how they wanted her to do their bidding, all in the name of tradition or ‘that is how things are done in our family!’ The daughter in law is the one who is supposed to adjust! Every family has its own ways, as everyone would agree but isn’t it unfair that the daughter in law has to give up all that she has grown up with for her entire life and ‘adjust’ with her new family? I have seen the new age husband change a bit. They are no longer shy in helping out their wives, be it in the household chores or rearing up the baby but as soon as they do their bit in front of their mother, another story cooks up! The new age, even more devious mother in law will bring it up casually in conversations… my son has a lot of tension! He is the one who bathes the child! Well! Isn’t the child his to begin with? And what about the n number of other things that his wife is doing? That of course will not find any mention since it is her ‘duty’!
The new age mother in law I feel is more difficult to handle. Rather than coming out straight with any problems she has, she will keep nagging and will keep giving out small, indirect signals, which makes it worse! A comment here and another there is enough to make her son suspicious, while all the time, she is praise for his wife, in front of him!
All this led me to another thought… aren’t we being a little unfair by making a sweeping generalization? I mean, think about all the mothers in law who are genuinely good and non interfering? I know many who let their daughters in law be, are running the house without expecting the daughters to do anything, babysit the kids without a frown on their face and what not! Lucky are the girls who get such a type of mother in law. But then I have also seen such mothers in law being at the receiving end.
This led me to think… is it because how we portray mothers in law in a totally negative light that some girls come prepared to battle them, not realizing that her mother in law is not the devil she may have thought her to be!
All this led me to another thought… how trivial and unfortunate (but a stark reality) it is that we have to spend a majority of our lives with these relationship issues, when we could be concentrating on things much more productive. And the onus lies on each of us, to make the changes!
© 2016. Anu Pal. All Rights Reserved.