Tuesday, April 01, 2008

there is something about mother-in-law

How can an update about a marriage be complete without talking about the mother in-law? So here I go…My hard rock-loving-guitar-playing-meat-eating-at-the-drop-of-a-hat-alcohol-sipping-and-not-so-religious husband has got a Hari-Om-Hari-Om-Chanting mother. So between the two extremes, I went eiyeiya karung mein kya suku suku.

First lesson, she told me not to take the husband’s name. Not taking the name is ok but in Manipur, women often address their husbands as brother. I came to know that Malayalis and some other communities also practise this. A lovelorn gentleman would be writing to his ladylove like this,

” Dear Sister,
Ever since I saw you, my heart has been going ping pong...
I hope my dearest sister would understand my feelings. I shall wait for you in the Love Nest restaurant.

Your loving brother “
So, until we have a kid in which case, S would be Chintoo ke papa or Meenu ke papa, we would be bhai ben. S intervened and said, ‘nothing doing!’ and I was saved from calling him 'brother'. However, I did not take his name in front of her. So the conversations went,”Please come here. Food is ready. Please bring that”. I used to do this to my sister when we fought. “Mom said food is ready” with a straight face and not address her directly.

The next thing was about religion. The world and everything else came from Hari and therefore, I must entrust my life to him. Then she also added that once you are married, your husband is your God. I don’t know if S was getting promoted to Hari or Hari was getting demoted to S. So, mission ‘please the mom-in-law’ was like conquering Saichen. For the few days that I was with her, I entrusted my life to Hari and hoped that he would do something to please her. There were rituals to be followed everyday starting from having to change clothes many times and worshipping God (many, including Hari) a number of times.

One day, she asked me to cook and just sat in the kitchen. My! I cook fairly well but this was judgement day. I was very conscious even about the way I was holding the knife and cutting vegetables. Suddenly, my mom’s advice from the past years came to mind. “Some families, cook like this, some people like being served like this. See that the utensils do not make much noise when you cook or serve. Never say that you do it like this but always ask your mom-in-law how it has to be done.” I think every mother trains her daughter from day one to be a daughter-in-law. I used to hate it and say, "I’ll do it when I have to and I‘ll manage even if I don’t know", but finally her words became handy because my mom-in-law gave me tips on how she does things.

I am back to my shorts, T shirts, boiled eggs and Maggie, cook only one meal a day, that too with S helping me most of the time and pray ( a short one) before I leave for work and not at dawn. I know I could never live up to my mom-in-law’s expectations. She said she cooked for 17 people from the day she got married. The max I cooked was for 11 people and that gave me a severe back ache later as I am not conditioned. Those were her values and the only yardstick for measuring someone and I don’t really mind. Infact, she told me, “I know you are not going to follow many of the things that I do here but I just wanted you to know them”.

S knows I have failed and failed miserably, but he is mighty pleased because I tried. I also sing Usha Uthup’s song, ‘Hari Om Hari’ when I think of my mom-in-law.


austere said...

She's nice.
And you're VERY nice for making her happy.
I liked what you did- you're trained so well!

Great post.

Stone said...


Sally Shields "The MIL Manager!" said...

Hi Arunima! This is too funny - I can totally relate! I thought that you might enjoy a new book that just came out entitled, The Daughter-in-Law Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-in-Law! by Sally Shields. That's ME! I would so love to send you a copy! Anyway, please come visit me on the web at www.TheDILRules.com. You are an angel for putting up with your MIL and I think I have some strategies that might give you a chuckle or two.

Keep up the great blogging. Great work!!!

AmitL said...

Arunima,when you started the post and wrote'My hard rock-loving-guitar playing...', I thought u were referring to your Mom-in-law.

Then,as I read further,I realized it wasn't...heh heh..she seems to be a nice lady. Can imagine her saying 'Hari Om Hari',if you sing'eiyeiya karung mein kya suku suku'.

Re. not taking the husband's name,why not go the 'E ji,sunte ho ji'route??

anumita said...

Believe me, the MIL would be as nervous as you. You are doing great!

Ritu said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...... Its a hilarious post...... Just a word of caution though...after many many years of marriage, ma-in-law won't say "I know all this will not be followed..." but will be breathing down you neck to do it...in all liklihood...

I always wonder if I should caution my cousins from first looking at the in-laws before marrying the guy..coz they are as important if not more for a peaceful life..!!!

All the best to u though... With this rocking sense of humour, Im sure u can scale any tough and 'rocky' patch!

romila said...

Hee, hee....that's so hilarious...the promote & demote part is so true.

Well said!

Arunima said...

@AMITL: if the hard rock loving_... was the mom-in-law, then I'd have just done some salsa and impressed her.

I find the eji, oji, loji sunoji, mehung manmohji very funny.

Arunima said...

@Ritu: I exactly feel what you are saying but considering the husband reading this, I have to tone it down and say that years down the line, the main-law would still continue giving tips on how things are to be done instead of saying breathing down the neck :-)

Pallavi said...

hahaha... I think if you have won your MIL you have won everything.

In most of the households she is the one who holds the reins.

We both are bohemian in our marriage but when parents are there... we both change to decent souls... hahaha

He does it for my parents and I do it for him..

After seven years its like second skin we slip on..
I guess we have to balance both the worlds and well it becomes a part of our personality.

Kitchen rule : In bangalore I rule and she rests and hangs around and cooks when she wants to.

In her hometown she rules, she manages the way she wants it and I just follow her...

Saves a lot of time.. and we have each other's respect..
Buhahahah !!!

Lots of other rules have been invisibly put up in agreement which has made her and me good friends and confidantes to such an extent that we bitch about our own husbands saying "Men" baaaa h !!!

hahahaah !!!

Mamta said...

good one!

Cynic in Wonderland said...

hehehehe ..i have carefully refrained from ever speaking abt mil in the blog. but to be honest, have been contemplating having an anonymous blog where i can. this is too hilarious. and for the first year or two i think its adjustment time for all concerned.

Arunima said...

@cynic: well, in that case, just leave a message like this, "A new blog on MIL and the URL"~Anonymous

I'll know who it is and come there. :-)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

anon group blog u think? want to join?

shub said...