Today the office lunch hour discussion was between Trisha, Mrs. Dey and me. Trisha, our super talented animator, had been feeling low for almost a week. So Mrs. Dey (“Boss K’s” 50 year old secretary) and I decided to give her an ear. Trisha has been married for 2 years to a very charming banker. And here is what she had to say today.
“Having been raised in a conservative ‘Tam-Brahm’ household, I hoped I would be part of a forward thinking family after marriage. I wanted to pursue my animation career even after marriage. When I met my prospective in-laws and to-be-hubby for the first time, I felt that “yes”. Unlike other Tam Brahm ladies, MIL (Mother-in Law) wore a demure salwar kameez, whereas I sat all draped in a chiffon sari. She had worked all her life as a school teacher, so didn’t really have a problem if I pursued my career. Soon after marriage, I moved in with my in-laws. The initial months were truly blissful. My husband is a pleasant person, intelligent, charming and basically a nice human being. My in-laws too are mild tempered and respected our privacy, despite all of us living under the same roof. Yet I feel incomplete”.
“To begin with there are unwritten rules in the house, especially for the lady. You enter the kitchen only after you have had your morning bath. This includes the morning cup of coffee too. So lazily drinking a morning cup of coffee is not really encouraged, even on a Sunday. And during the sweltering summer days of Delhi, staying in the kitchen in the morning for two hours and then getting ready for office meant a second bath.”
“My MIL is totally in charge of the kitchen and home management. I help around in the kitchen by kneading dough, chopping, grinding etc… Like an assistant. So most of the time, I just stand behind having nothing much to do. She wakes up early in the morning. After her morning walk, followed by a bath, she plans the entire day’s meal. I really appreciate her meticulous planning. There are days when I just want to sleep on, especially after late night movies and on Sundays. But somehow I don’t feel comfortable doing this, when my MIL is working in the kitchen.”
“My in-laws don’t really have major objections to the kind of clothes I wear. Just that I always have to have on a bindi, the mangalsutra and the toe ring. When I once asked her if they were an absolute necessity even at home she said, “Of course, this is our tradition. It is for your husband’s life.” Though I don’t really believe in these thoughts, I complied to avoid any sort of unpleasantness in the house. During the summer months I would really love to wear comfortable T shirts and skirts at home. However MIL once indirectly hinted at this being inappropriate in front of Father in law. I have to be prim and proper at all times.”
“Evening after work, I help my MIL in the kitchen again. Dinner is the only meal the entire family has together. After a tired day, it is that time we share our day’s events, before we hit the bed and call it a day. MIL and me always serve the food to FIL and hubby and later clear the table and the dishes. On occasions when I insist on hubby helping us clear the dishes, she discourages the same saying he has had a tired day and shouldn’t be troubled. Hmmm it makes me wonder, “Haven’t I had a tired day?”….
“Watching television lying on the Divan isn’t really appreciated. It is only in the confines of my bedroom I do what I want to. Wear itsy bitsy clothes; watch what I want on my laptop with my legs up in the air. I have managed to keep a hot water jug in my room, where I make a cup of green tea every morning and sip it lazily at my own leisure, without having to worry about having a bath. Small luxuries. Of course one would say these are very small things in life. As my in-laws are otherwise nice people. They wouldn’t really speak anything that would hurt me. But these little things can make one feel so claustrophobic. I feel restricted. I feel like a guest in my hubby’s home.”
After hearing out Trisha, I got thinking. Marriage surely is a big lifestyle change for a woman. And sometimes not being able to do little things really gets on to your nerves.
Here are questions that have remained unanswered today.
- Who is a forward thinking person?
- Aren’t we still differentiating a son and a daughter in law? Why isn’t it still unacceptable for the son to share household chores, especially the kitchen?
- Would a Father in law and son in law also have similar problems if living under the same roof? Would he be expected to obey the father in law?
- Whats the way out for modern day saas-independent bahu?