(As told to Darshana Doshi)
(Names changed to protect identities)
After a courtship of three years when I and Mihir got married, the first thing we had to figure out was this: How we will make love in the one-bedroom apartment where the parents had the bedroom and the drawing room had no door? We had so many things to attend to before our marriage that we had forgotten all about the door! So the first thing we did was to get one fixed. However, with our gruelling work schedules, it took a while. I must confess that the nights before the door was fixed were wild and exciting. The palpable fear that we felt on knowing that any parent could walk in while we were making love, was crazy. I would like to believe that nothing like that happened or was that the reason why they offered us their bedroom? I will never know.
The door, however, could not lock out our demonstrative tendencies. Mihir did not hesitate to take liberties in front of his mother.
Sometimes he would hug me while I was in the kitchen, helping her. Also, he loved to hold my hand while the three of us watched TV. I could sense my mother-in-law’s discomfort initially. The funny part is that both of us then would have a blushing competition. “But somehow in front of your father, my dear hubby, you turn into a cold fish. How come?” I would tease Mihir mercilessly, as I knew how he believed in showing respect to him at all times.
Related reading: Here’s how to flirt when you’re already married
The passion we felt for each other made us find ways to steal kisses and grab a hug in the 600 sq ft of area shared by four adults. We learnt to communicate through our eyes. We built our own signalling system and code words. For example when we wished to say ‘You are looking hot’, we said ‘The weather is hot hot’. The garden was our second home,
which we used when we wished to communicate about sensitive matters and be intimate. It was fun and we did not really resent the presence of my in-laws in our life, as they too were caring and adjusting. So harmony was maintained.
However, after two years things changed after my father-in-law died and Ma got lonely and insecure. She wished to hang out with us everywhere, as she hated to be alone. We did understand this and supported her completely for a year.
But lack of physical and mental space was leading to deterioration of our relationship. We had to find the ways to keep our intimacy alive.
It was a bit tough and taxing, as our passion for each other had settled and increased workload left us very little time for ourselves.
One evening the patience wore off and tempers flew on the pretext of a small insignificant happening where even Ma cried. We realised it was time to address the issue and resolve it. “Why do you have to tuck in Ma each night and wait till she goes off to sleep? Do you know we have not made love for a month now?” I howled, feeling frustrated, when Ma had gone to the temple. Mihir, who was very emotional about his mother, listened quietly.
Related reading: Are Indians ignorant about their bodies and intimacy?
The following Sunday he surprised me with a chart made out of cardboard. It had different sections, like ‘I want it bad’ ’Not tonight Honey,’ ‘I am hug sick’, It is a smooch day’ and many more with cute and intimate messages. “All you have to do is stick a pin on your choice each evening. So I will accordingly plan time with Mum.” And then he embraced me saying gently ‘I love you Vaishali. These are tough times. But we will sail through it.” His care and love strengthened my resolve too and we did sail smoothly afterwards, maintaining the balance between our duties towards his mother and towards each other.
It has been four years since we have been living in harmony, accepting the situation as inevitable and making light of it. The new bond of care and trust that we have built has given us something special that nourishes our souls even if we don’t hold hands or hug. Cuddling up to each other before sleeping has become more pleasurable than even love making sometimes. We have learnt to handle an interruption in our intimacy and so are planning a baby soon.