(Contd from here)
My mother in law was a wonderful woman; a very capable lady. She could single-handedly rustle up a meal for a dozen or more people in no time. As for the dishes she cooked, they were lip smacking tasty. Everyone was welcome in her home. They were most often invited to stay over for lunch or dinner as the case may be. She was loved and respected and in turn showered love on those around her. There were exceptions though.
She loved me too. In fact I distinctly remember her calling me ‘moley’ once about thirty years back. Moley incidentally is Malayalam for daughter if called by elders, an endearment if done by the spouse or lover, and is a mocking epithet when used by roadside Romeos of which we in God’s own country have aplenty. Yup, we Mallus are versatile that way with words. Anyways that’s just interesting trivia and not germane to the issue. At the time I was maha thrilled to think that she considered me her daughter. Such foolish and optimistic beings we are in the ‘newly married’ stage. The moment she discovered that I was not the goose who would lay golden eggs for her, she struck me off her good books. What? And no money tree in the backyard of your parental home either?
Nope, there was no such tree in the rented house I stayed with my parents. I am the daughter of an upright and principled government servant. There may be, in fact there are, quite a few things I feel my father has done wrong or not done at all. But I am extremely proud of the fact that he leads an honest man’s life in this corrupt world. It is not easy doing that and on top of that, one never gets rich enough to satisfy the avarice of in-laws.That never bothered me. I did NOT want that my father buy me a groom. Too innocent and not worldly-wise in many ways perhaps, but of one thing I was certain: I did not want to step into a family that had calculated the worth of bringing up their son and wanted repayment for it.
My MIL worshipped money. One of her fav description for someone was, “They are verrry rich!” She said it with so much longing that I pitied her her unsatisfied desire for what she felt was enough money. Well but I really don’t have issues with that, people love what they will. And as I take pains to repeat quite often, each to his/her own. The problem occurs when such people want to appear non materialistic saints in front of the world. Oh we want only the girl as bride for the son, not what she brings, goes the melodious bhajan-like pious song they sing. And when the wedding is over, the song is more like a disco dance tune, with lots of aggressive drum beats. Now THAT is unfair.
I wouldn’t say her treatment of me was unique. She treated all of us DILs with the same disdain but for different reasons which she never failed to announce to the public when she chose. Yes, MILs have/think they have, the God-given right to loudly enumerate the supposed faults of the DILs to anyone who would care to listen or even those who would not. The world to her was a perfect place but for us DILs. But she did treat me with more contempt. I was docile and obedient and did her bidding, the Bollywood lessons having kicked in quite early on in life. That is a red flag to such MILs. The minute they realise you are ‘good’ they classify you as ‘doormat material’ and start giving you the third degree. Besides, in her eyes, I was a poor bahu who hadn’t paid up for her having borne and brought up a son.
Now you know why I want to gouge the eyes out of people when they tell me that with two sons of my own I belong to the lenewale (takers) group. Like hell I need payment for bringing up my sons. They were born for my happiness, because I wanted them, not for what I could wring out of parents of future DILs, parents just like me.
Enough about me. Let me introduce you to two of the evil mothers-in-law who have been in my radar since long.
The first of them was a diminutive woman, gray haired, simple looking, not educated beyond school level. Looking at her, you wouldn’t dream she was anything other than a sweet old lady. She and her husband came to stay with the son and wife at their work place. The couple must have been married for just over a year. Their house used to be a hub where friends dropped in and were entertained as they were were friendly and outgoing. All that stopped once the MIL and the FIL made their appearance. A bahu to them meant a human robot to serve in-laws and stay unobtrusively out of the way. So my friend went to work, came home and did in-law service. And I dare any of you to tell me such things don’t happen in the present. Get out of your bubble and look around you.
The MIL would be ready and waiting for the son when he returned from office. She would make him sit in fron of her, massage his head lovingly, as made famous by almost ALL movies made in India. A mother simply HAD to massage the head of sons. Daughters? No way, they were not entitled to such displays of affection. Show me a movie that glorifies that. And DILs? You must be joking, right?! Anyway much cuddling, kissing of cheeks and forehead and questions about the day followed. I bet you my bottom rupee that her own husband hadn’t received half as much attention from her in their life together that she showered on her married son. Probably the son never got as much before he got married either for all we know. The DIL of course served tea and snacks.
Now, was the woman satisfied with appropriating her son’s time in this manner? I am sure she spent sleepless nights thinking up her next ploy. In a two bedroom flat, the in-laws occupied one bedroom, the son and the DIL the other. One day the MIL hit upon the perfect plan. She complained that her room was too warm. The cool room in the house was, you guessed it, the son’s. She started sleeping in the cool room with the son and DIL. I kid you NOT. And no thankfully MIL did not ask the DIL to move to the room where the FIL was. And poor fellow, the FIL, nobody asked him where he wanted to sleep either. So he continued alone in his room while his wife made a cosy threesome with the son and DIL. I repeat, I kid you NOT. Of course Indian sons are not supposed to say anything to the mother WHATEVER she does. It should always be “Yes Mummyji. Haanji Mummyji”
Now you know why I taught my sons that they have the right to talk to me as an equal. In my way of thinking, if my sons said yes to me all the time, it would reflect poorly on me as a parent. It says I have turned perfect human babies into zombies. Is that anything to be proud of? Getting back, so while the FIL slept all alone in the too warm room and the MIL made her bed with the son and his wife in the ‘cooler’ room, the question arises, why didn’t the concerned people just exchange rooms? Good question albeit silly. You and I know what the MIL’s problem was. Since i don’t think the Govt of India had appointed her as the Personal Population Control Officer for her son and DIL, her motive had to be pure jealousy that the DIL spent even those few hours alone with her son. If you can tell me of another better reason, please do so. I’d be glad to know.
This lady who made life hell for the daughter in law as long as she stayed, in later years was taken care of by the same DIL, who asked for and got a transfer to the place they stayed in, for just that reason. I wonder if the woman felt any remorse during her last days. Or did she still feel that she was only getting what she was entitled?
Now comes another MIL, of much more recent times. She got her son married to the daughter of a well to do household under false pretences. The girl is a graduate, beautiful, accomplished. The husband is lazy and a no good fellow. The only degree he has is what his mother verbally has conferred on him. Well, whaddya know, who needs Universities and exams when they have mothers like her? He is jobless, but miraculously became a job holder in the tales that Momma dear weaved. Things came to light AFTER the marriage. Of course anyone who hears of it blames the DIL’s family. They hadn’t made the right enquiries and got fooled. Victim blaming is our national pastime.
The educated DIL is not “allowed” to work. How will expenses be met? No problem, get the money from your parents, she is told categorically. Even dowries don’t last forever. Talk about parasites! The sense of entitlement that the mothers of sons have makes them absolutely shameless about living off others. Verbal abuse is the order of the day. Can you imagine, this MIL is such a monster that she makes special dishes, fries fish etc AFTER her grandchildren have gone to bed because she does not want them to have it. And is the DIL “allowed” to make choice dishes for her sons (yes they are grandSONS too and one would have thought that would give this DIL some respite) and that too with the money her parents have poured into that family? )
With the hard work and lack of proper food, the DIL started getting weaker and losing weight. Her horrified parents took her away with them, along with the two tiny tots. The spineless husband started visiting (without his Momma dear’s knowledge) and begging to have his wife back. Finally they sent them back on condition that their daughter and kids be treated well, and he clean up his act, find a job as soon as possible. They helped him get a reasonably good job in the Gulf.
The night before the man was to leave, the DIL went upstairs after dinner as was her habit. She started ironing some of the shirts that the husband had to take. She waited for her husband to come and fell asleep waiting. He never came. His mother had made him sleep in her room downstairs. Her reason? She wanted to wake him up on time for the early morning flight, if not he might oversleep and miss it. Awww… ain’t that oh so cute? The least he could have done was inform her that he was sleeping with Mummyji. Neither of them thought it was necessary to do so.
Now don’t you all understand why so much of pain is taken to condition girl children? They want us to grow up weak and unable to fight injustice. Where will such no-good men and their families find women willing to step into such families if we women are not conditioned to be submissive, voiceless with no self respect whatsoever? How do they get free glorified maids? But the utterly amazing thing here is how the parents of girl children have been brainwashed. That’s the high point of the “success” of monster society. They have been conditioned into giving up their daughters along with their life savings to such callous villains and sit back blaming Fate if the daughters suffer.
It is not over. The next day early morning the son left for the Gulf. The MIL was heard triumphantly telling the maid, not telling, gloating would be the better word, “I did NOT let them sleep together last night!” Well? Do I have to add anything more to that?
It is not as if all such EVIL MILs are evil by nature, it is as if the title somehow confers them a right to be evil. They do have tender feelings for everyone in society except the DIL. They feel for their sons; their own daughters who are on visit and complain about their in-laws are sympathized with and even advised on how to deal with the MILs. What is shocking is how some of those who have gone through the grind transform themselves into perfectly evil specimens when the time comes to ascend the throne of MIL-hood I am seeing it happening right in front of my eyes, those who walked the same path of suffering are now mothers-in-law and revelling in doling out the same treatment to their daughters-in-law. What makes people such sadists? Why do they lack the will or the courage or the empathy, the goodness of heart to break the cycle? Many do of course, like Roshni’s MIL who decided the nonsense would stop with her. Here is to more MILs like Roshni’s.
This could continue of course. But for the time being, I am stopping it here.