No matter where you live, Indian parents have a fetish to control their children’s life with the invisible remote control which is very hard to find. It is so powerful that even if you live on the other side of the world, it works and works very well.
There is also a common belief among the parents in our society. They believe that when they marry off their daughters, they bring home the most esteemed guest of the house. They believe that it is the duty of that ‘esteemed guest’ to fulfil all the wishes and dreams of their daughter and keep her happy. Like all the fairy-tale stories, their princess with her prince should live happily forever together. But…when they marry off their sons, they bring home a slave on compassionate grounds and she is there to obey their commands and live to fulfil their wishes and dreams.
In this whole scenario, my heart goes out for sons. Poor innocent guy…soon…for no fault of his he gets branded; mama’s boy or joru ka ghulam. The tag lives forever.
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My first sacrifice
So after my marriage when the Mama of my boy asked me to spend a couple of months with her instead of joining my MBA class, I followed her command and his wish. Anyway, it was not IIM that I had got admitted into. I sacrificed my diploma to earn the degree of great daughter-in-law.
‘Great daughter-in-law’! Well… we all know that it is a fictitious degree.
A couple of years later, Mama’s boy’s job took us to a faraway land. Leaving them in the East, we shifted to the West with the whole stretch of land in between. But…was I the lucky one to live far away from the encroachment in the decisions of my life? Guess again.
“Why have you joined the school? Who will take care of the house, my son and your children? Quit the job and take care of your home and family. That is more important. We don’t want a working bahu.” It was a command over the telephone.
I took the command in my stride and kept doing what I wanted to do. For him the remote control was pressed, but the joru ka ghulam kept mum.
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The next demand
Two months later my parents-in-law came to stay with us for a month. The Mama of my boy commanded me to take a month’s leave and stay at home with them.
“Why? It is a playschool and I will be away only for four hours,” I was frustrated while trying to stay calm. “I won’t get a month’s leave!”
“Then quit the job. How much are you earning? I will pay double the amount to you. Stay at home and take care of your home.” I felt sarcasm in the tone.
I was hurt. Was it because the Mama’s boy kept mum throughout the conversation or because I didn’t stand up for my dignity? I was clueless.
But not this time
Next morning, I stood under the shower soaking the chill of the water in that cold wintery morning. I was shivering, but certainly not because of the freezing water. Tears from my eyes were losing their identity in the flow. They were not the expression of my emotions anymore. It was just water, no one cares whether it flows or stays back in the eyes hidden somewhere behind the fake smile.
Even I knew that what I was doing was just a ‘timepass’ job that I have taken to keep myself engage. I knew that the meagre salary I earned is simply my ‘pocket money’. But still my job meant a lot to me. Above all it made me feel happy and alive.
I stared into the mirror. The red shirt elevated my mood. I matched it with the red lipstick and light make-up. Wearing my confidence and walked to meet the stunned glares. “Breakfast is on the table and I will return before lunch.” I walked towards the main door. The clinking sound of my heels was music to my ears.
From the corner of my eyes I saw a brave smile playing on joru ka ghulam’s lips.
Readers Comments On “How I stood up to my mother-in-law and kept my dignity”
Not all r lucky like her.. a mam’s boy will always be a mama’s boy. Its d duty n responsibility of a boy’s mother to make him a sensible man so that he can deciside n have impartial decisions.All in all a Nice story .
To lead our own life by ourselves is the greatest happiness. Go ahead
Cannot believe it, but totally impressed, that you have stood your ground, and politely, but strongly put your feelings, and ensured, that you also have a life to lead, and live in dignity too. Feeling good, that I have had the opportunity to read this experience of a brave woman.
In my case, my ma in law, herself was working. She would leave before me, wearing beautiful sarees.
By working, we do not demean their authority, we manage both spheres of our lives with aplomb.
Your writing uplifts, Leena.
The control factor is what has ruined the delicate social system in our country. Why can’t in laws see that you have the strength and capability to manage home as well as work equally well ?
thumps up for your bold decision which inspire so many women to live their life as per their choice
Thanks Anupama. Yes its is the decision which matters. Our life so the choice should also be ours.
Very well expressed Leena. 2nd paragraph is hilarious account of irony.
Even if the salary was ‘pocket money’ it was your decision which mattered.
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