Sunday, January 25, 2009

To NikHiL

Dedicated to Nikhil, on the occasion of our 4th anniversary as a couple. Thank you, for everything.

“ I was thinking how nothing lasts. And what a shame that is.” Benjamin Button, The curious case of Benjamin Button.

This beautiful, heart warming film, the best I’ve seen in a long, long, long time...touched my heart and made me cry. As is usual with things like this, it made me think. Of all the moments I wished would go on forever. Since this is dedicated to my better half, naturally I thought of moments with him :o)

- The first time we met, after 12yrs when we were kids. It was 5AM, and my heart leapt into my I saw the man I’d been in love with long distance for more than two years.

- The first bar of chocolate we shared.

- All the times you hug me when I cry.

- The time when I helped you make a treasure hunt for your sister...we went shopping...and finally after 4 hours, exhausted, we sat in a silver store choosing anklets for her, and though you hate PDA, you put an arm around my shoulders and let me rest my head against you.

- The time we went to pick out birdies for your mom.

- The times you read the Hanuman Chalisa out loud to me over the phone when I was scared.

- The times I used to sleep over the phone, you would make me sleep, sing me a lullaby.

- The first ice cream we shared. McDonalds soft serve.

- The feeling I had when you bought me the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever received, because they made even me feel my feet were pretty!

- The first time one of your tee shirts fit me!

- The time when we were at your place, and it was 3AM and we were up talking and had tea and biscuits.

- The time me, mom, aunty, sapna and you went shopping before your job interview and I bought 2 kurtas. It was the first time everyone realised that somehow to me, only your opinion mattered :o)

- The first time you woke me up when I stayed over at your place. You softly stroked my cheek with a finger till I woke up. Now I wish I hadn’t!

- The times you eat and enjoy something I’ve cooked for you.

- The afternoon we dined at Azzurro’s bar and restaurant, and the movie that followed [dasvidanya]. But mostly the lunch :o) it was an awesome afternoon. Pretty perfect.

- The first time we had a candle lit dinner...chinese... It was awesome feeding you noodles and more!

- The first time we got drunk together ;o)

- The time you took me to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...even though you didn’t want to...and our families were off seeing Apne.

- All the times you say you don’t want French fries and then steal mine!

- All the times you hold my hand of your own accord.

- The time you said you missed “my haath ki chai because it’s perfect.”

- The first time we spoke over the phone.

- The time you told me, sullenly after a fight, that it was not possible for you to be without me now. “It’s not possible for me now.” You said and HMPF’d.

- The first New Year’s Eve we spent together.

- The time you told me, 4yrs back, that you were single and always had been!

- The time you babied me when I was sick and alone. Made me feel a whole lot better...! even if I was hospitalised that later that night.

- The first time you said you wanted a future with me, marriage and babies and all.

- The first time you said that my parents are your parents.

- The time you gave me a relaxing pedicure after hours of walking in heels :o)

- The time you told me, that I’m not just your girl friend, I’m your better half.

- Every time single time you tell me I’m a good doctor.

- The first time I sat behind you on your bike... :o)

- The first time I received a care package from you. It warmed my insides.

- Every time you come up with a new nickname for me.

- The time you oiled and massaged my hair/scalp and made a ponytail out of it and I gave you a head massage and back and shoulder along with oiling your hair. We were watching Munnabhai part 2. We laughed so hard and were so relaxed. I doubt we’ve been that relaxed since.

I could go on and on. Thank you, for all these moments and more. I never thought I could be so lucky as to deserve them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The defense speaks.

In defence of the misunderstood in laws...

Everyone calls me evil. I am the notorious “Saas”. Aka the Mother in law. No one has a good word to say about me so I think I’ll do it myself! Via, the very kind author of this very thought provoking blog of course...

No one understands how difficult it is, to give up my another woman. It doesn’t matter whether she is a woman I myself have helped search for and shortlist...or whether she is someone my son found himself and fell in love with. Frankly I don’t know which is harder. Nothing changes the fact that my son will now be with another woman. That someone else will do the small tasks I always did for my family. Someone else will cook his meals, wash his clothes, keep his home, put him to sleep, send him to office, make him tea and etc. When he is sad or angry or upset of happy...she is the one he will run to first...she is the one he will share all his innermost thoughts with, all thoughts he didn’t want to share with me...although I tried to be his friend.

Can you imagine what it feels like to see someone slowly but surely taking over the reins of the household you have nurtured for decades? No. I’ll tell you how it feels. It feels like someone is snatching my life’s work from me. And then she starts taking care of my husband I’m incapable of doing it myself! Ok I didn’t mean that, she takes care of me too...I must admit. But sometimes it feels, like I’m not required anymore. By anyone. It used to feel nice to be needed.

Then there is the question of defending my own flesh and blood daughter. How can I say she is wrong? She is a part of me, heart of my heart and if I go against her in front of someone else it feels like betrayal. Disloyalty, you know? When we are alone I do try to explain to her but she doesn’t always...understand. Nor is it always possible to talk to her about a topic as sensitive as this. It is hard for her too...her brother used to be her best friend. They used to share every little thing...from stationery to thoughts to bedspreads. Now he doesn’t seem to have time for heart to heart talks with her. He is busy with work and family responsibilities. I know things will be different when she is married and has a family of her own...

But until then, how can she understand what it means to have someone else become your ‘better half?’

What it means to have fights and make up and then behave as if nothing was wrong in the first place?

There are some aspects of being part of a couple that are not logical enough to explain. They have to be experienced personally. She’s possessive about her brother and if anyone or anything makes him unhappy she dislikes it immediately. She doesn’t stop to think of her sister in law.

She feels that her sister in law should be made to feel that something has been wrongly done by ensure her brother doesn’t get hurt again. I believe she will understand not to interfere in their relationship when she is in one of her own.

When we in laws are overly critical about the new additions to our is because we feel she is an outsider. Someone who has just dropped in between us. We feel uncomfortable. Especially if the new bahu is someone our son has chosen himself...i.e. a love marriage. Suddenly without asking or caring what we think fit for him, best for him, we are asked to accept and even welcome this wily stranger into our midst. It makes us very uncomfortable to have her among us. She tries to make her presence felt, does things for us, makes us feel even guiltier for not welcoming her with wide open arms. She is so very eager to please it gets on our nerves. In everything...we see her becomes irritating. Eventually, all everyone ever sees is her. Once my own daughter is wed and gone, no one seems to remember she was there...its all about the bahu then. How good she is, how pretty, what an amazing chef, how hospitable and gracious. Its nauseating.

We also get to hear of things she has been saying about us. Mean things. To our own relatives...complaining about us...saying we don’t treat her right. How do you think we feel when we get to hear these things? It’s disloyalty and betrayal. It’s damn near impossible to be right, to not explain, to be the face of what seems wrong.

Even as we know what is right and wrong.

It’s easy to be idealistic. To dream of happy families. It’s harder to be achieve this. A lot of genuine love and forgiveness is required. Not all daughter in laws display that. There are those who try their hardest to plot and scheme and break apart families. Decrease love. Create fights between brothers and sisters. Create misunderstandings regarding family property. Turn a son against a his own mother and father. His own brother. Create divisions even as we live together under the same roof. Do you have any idea how hard it watch one’s family break down, deteriorate right before one’s very eyes? All the while, all you can do is stand helplessly.

What are we to do then?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Thin, transparent line...

The Saas, nanad and Bahu wars :

I think I'll marry a good Mother in law and sister in law. The man can be changed later." - Ruchika Bajoria, age 20, student and fellow blogger.

All right everyone, honestly hands in the air everyone who agrees with my friend Ruchika?

I see...this many huh? Wise words for one so young.

This is a very sensitive topic and I debated long and hard before writing it...

At points it will no doubt, appear that I’m biased. I am. Towards the daughter in law [DIL].

Why? Because she is the one who gets left out, while the mom in law and daughter in law are a team. And I’m always for the underdog!

But on a more serious note, this blog post may nmot be taken kindly by people, even by people close to me [read: nikhil.] but I'm still posting it because I believe that with a little bit of effort, consideration and love...its possible to have a happy married a huge, happy family. Be united. That is the image I;m hoping for, whenever I get married myself.

I share and excellent relationship with my Sister in law, I mean my first cousin's wife. Till I took offense at something that can only be termed petty and behaved badly with her. By behaving badly, I mean I ignored her and refused to talk to her when she came home. The second she was out the door I felt overwhelmingly ashamed of my behaviour and ran out the door and hugged her. Whereupon she burst into tears and said “I’m so fed up of everyone taking me for granted just because I'm the bahu [daughter in law]. It was bad enough when your brother's real sister was doing it, I didn't expect it from you too."

If possible I felt even worse. And trust me, that’s a first.

Since I've been in India, I've yet to hear an MIL or SIL praise or have anything good to say about their son's wife. The DIL. The evil female who "stole" their son. Brother away.

Because of this, they behave in ways which guarantee that there’s never been a DIL who’ll ever praise her MIL and SIL either.

Its reason enough for anyone to shudder at the thought of marriage!

I'm not talking about illiterate women here...I'm talking about educated, employed women.

I wonder what it is, that makes them so quick to judge, often wrongly, their son's wife. The woman can slog, work her ass off, cook, clean, care and still they will find something to criticize her for. I guess if one is determined to look for flaws, flaws are all one will see!

Everywhere you look around, the extinct species is the "happy Bahu". I'm guess the reason she weeps so copiously at the end of the wedding ceremony is more out of fear, than actual grief at leaving home!

She cannot "answer back" when an injustice is done...towards her obviously.

Last night, on the radio, the RJ hosted a crib session, and one of the women who called up confessed that she was thinking of divorcing her man because he was a "mamma's boy". The woman in question had been married 5yrs and had a 3yr old son. She was in terrible pain.

I don't understand...WHAT IS IT? Is it possessiveness? Jealousy that one's son/brother is now physically and otherwise closer to someone other than them? That he is sharing a bed with someone else? Or worse...sharing ALL his thoughts with someone else? Is it as simple as resentment? Do they resent the girl? Because apparently, no matter how hard she tries, she's never good enough. She's never right. It’s pathetic.

People will put up with the bad behaviour of their daughter, but NOT their daughter in law. This is something that leaves me befuddled. Do these parents in law not realise that their DIL has left her own, real parents believing with all her heart and soul that she is only going to go home to her new parents?

Then why the blatant discrimination? Between and daughter and a daughter in law? If anything, you should treat her extra specially, as she has trusted her life to you and your son. You should feel honoured that she considered you worthy of that, that she trusted you so much.

But you let your daughter get away with anything, and never ever stick up for this girl who will now, or in your later years, be the one to take care of you, physically and otherwise.

Who will wipe your tears when your daughter is in her own home, with her own husband?

Who will take you for your regular health checkups?

Who will remember not to add sugar to your tea because of your diabetes?

Who will cook all your meals in extra virgin olive oil so that you don't die early of a heart attack.

Who will be sensitive to your moods?

Who will never take you for granted.

Who will probably be more respectful towards you that she was towards her own parents.

Who will observe your slightest desires and fulfil them immediately, when others may not even have noticed.

Who will make your house a home?

Who will bring home only wheat or bran flakes because they are far healthier than cornflakes?

who will take the utmost care, not only of your son, but you even at times, neglecting her own self...because isn't that what a wife or daughter does?

How is one to deal with this?

Of cold wars, of bad behaviour, of possessiveness?

What to do when you feel unappreciated?

Left out?

Despite the love and care you may have felt and shown them all?


To your husband.

Tell him your feelings. If he is any man at all, he will hear you out, try to clear the air. He will point out where you were at fault, and agree that his mom and sis were wrong too.

A word of advice... Do not push him to fight for you. [But simply to speak calmly with them about your hurt feelings.]

Fighting will only serve to make your MIL and SIL hate you more. It will create tensions and a bad atmosphere at home.

Worse than that, your man will feel helpless at your misery. He may feel unworthy of your trust. Your relationship with him may deteriorate drastically. And somehow, this is not a good enough reason.

What I mean is, if his mom/sis are not willing to understand his point of view, do NOT fight him! It’s not his fault, as long as he has spoken to them. When someone is determined not to admit their mistake, nothing can make them. And somehow, without even knowing the whole story, and often despite knowing the whole truth, the MIL will insist that HER daughter was not at fault and it was all the Bahu's mistake.

If your man shakes his head and says “no that’s not true. You’re assuming things wrongly."

Then that’s good enough. He cares enough about you to disagree with his mother.

Be the mature one, or perhaps more correctly, the "bigger person", and forgive and forget them. Be happy to have a man who sticks up for you...he does deserve your life in his hands. And trust me, from what I've seen; every time a man's wife cries because of his mom/sis, he takes special care of her...shows unusual amount of sensitivity...and makes up for the hurt they may have caused her.

But sometimes, some hurts run too deep. Especially after you've done your utmost to try and establish a good, cordial and genuinely caring and loving relationship with your in laws...something may happen to hurt you so much so you never want to look at them or talk to them again. If they apologize, genuinely and directly to you, for hurting you and making you cry, accept it graciously and move on. If not, don't waste your precious tears over people who do not care enough about you to come and wipe your tears. They don't deserve your tears. Sometimes it’s hard to love someone who don't even like, as a human being. Don't kill yourself over it. Just remember your manners. At all times.

As my mom says, “Just because someone else is doing something wrong or behaving badly, that doesn’t mean that you should do the same thing. No need to be wrong just because someone else is.”

In short:

Bottom lines are ... in the following categories.


- Grow up.

-If you genuinely care about your brother's happiness try to have a good and loving relationship with his wife.

-If your brother's wife fights with him, instead of being rude to her on his behalf. remember that she is his wife and has every right to argue with him because she loves him more than she loves her own life and does her very best to make him feel special and happy.

-Remember that one day you too will be in her position, unless you decide to remain a spinster, in which case you maybe v.lonely.

-It takes a magnanimous person, to admit she is wrong. Apologize when you have been rude to her. A genuine apology goes a long way in healing a hurt...especially to someone's heart.

-Remember she has left her real family, sister, brother to come live with you...expecting a real home. Not one where she is the outcast.


-Grow up.

-Remember the girl has left her own parents to come to you, with the faith and hope that you will treat her as well as her own parents did, as well as you would treat your own daughter...if at any point, you are unfair to her, or unappreciative, it is a poor reflection on your character.

- Your own daughter maybe a v.nice person, but she is not God. She too can make mistakes and hurt feelings. Admit it and teach her better manners instead of putting the blame on your DIL.

-Remember your own daughter will be married and have to face in laws one day. And then remember what goes around comes around. Be to your DIL the kind of in laws you'd want your own daughter to come across.

-Remember that she has done your son the honour of loving and trusting him with her life. She is ensuring he doesn't grow old alone, that he is well taken care of. As will you be too.

- If you cannot praise her never condemn her.


-Grow up.

-Stop crying.

-Be honest at all times, about your good AND bad gestures.

-Confide in your husband.

-Do not gush sycophantically just to be in their "good books". You won't.

-Do not apologize when you are not at fault. It makes people take you for granted.

-Do not change to please someone yourself. Try to work on improving yourself, but for yourself.

-Do be yourself, always.

-Do not go out of your way to please someone...eventually you will resent it and that resentment will pour itself out towards your husband.

-Remember, for better or for worse...they are your new family. Treat them as you would your own family. Be fully sincere on your them as your husband loves them but keep no expectations [Damn near impossible, I know]. That way you will never be disappointed.

- Lastly and most importantly, NEVER BITCH [BACKBITE] about your in laws. Its v.v.hard to resist doing so, especially when you hear reports of them having said mean things about you. But always treat them genuinely like your own mom and dad and sister. you wouldn't talk about them, badly, behind their backs...would you?