Struggles and Scars

When she decided to speak up to her in-laws

Support and inspiration from an unexpected source gave her the courage to speak up against her in-laws' unjust remarks
woman and her mother fighting

When the wife is asked to be polite to her in-laws

“They are coming in an hour. Please take care while talking to my folks,” Rohit sounded tense.

Sanaya gave a faint smile, while fluffing the cushions.

“No, I mean it,” he insisted.

She put the cushion aside to make eye contact. “I have parents too. My education did not teach me to be disrespectful, especially to elders. So relax.”
To further relax his raised eyebrows, she added, “I know what you mean. I’ll take care.”

As Rohit rushed to the airport to pick up his parents, Sanaya tossed the matar paneer and the smell told her it was done just right. She instructed her help to wrap up the kitchen soon, and gave her home a final glance. All looked good, and she felt good. As she adjusted her wedding photo on the side table, she reminisced over her last two years of marriage.

Of opposing views

It had not been an all sunny summer. There were days when artic winters hit unexpectedly, but then spring always made its way. Well, winters were coming. Her in-laws were coming. Sanaya and her parents-in-law had differences in opinions, approach and attitude towards life. Sanaya was the girl of the future, while her in-laws were tied to the past. The only atom that bonded them was Rohit.

“This time it will be different. I will not meddle with their affairs,” she made a promise to herself. The honk of the car gave her the signal to place some water on the gas burner for tea. After settling in and an exchange of pleasantries, the normal drill began.

“So, how are things at work?” asked Rohit’s father, looking at Sanaya.

“Great. I have just been promoted. It demands much more but reaps much higher.”

Work is fine, but how about the house?

“I gave you that new tava for rotis, na? Did you try it?” Her mother-in-law soon subdued her enthusiasm on the promotion, by prioritising her home chores above all.

“No, I still have to.”

“Well, she will use it only if she gets into the kitchen.” The sly remark by her father-in-law stung her but she bit her tongue.

As Sanaya lifted her eyes, Rohit dug deep into the tea mug. That disconnect slayed her more than the snide remarks.

“I’ll just come back,” Sanaya ran towards the kitchen as words fell out of her mouth. She couldn’t believe she stood the whole day cooking for all of them. Her face was shattered and so was her posture. She bent over the kitchen counter to recoup.

Related reading: 10 tips to deal with a manipulative mother-in-law without ruining your marriage

When I can fight, why can’t you?

Didi, sunogey toh sunaye jaogey. I don’t have a thing, yet I fight with my alcoholic husband every day. I stand for what is right. What stops you from taking a stand?” Laxmi, the help, placed her hand on Sanaya’s shoulder and a connection was made instantly. Sometimes, the people from whom you expect the least give you the best advice.

The dinner was served and everyone took a seat. Laxmi kept serving them rotis, and as they were about to wrap up, Sanaya said, “Laxmi, ab tum jaake khana kha lo.” Laxmi nodded and proceeded to the kitchen.

“How much is her pay?” whispered the mother-in-law.

“8,000, plus food and stay,” answered Rohit.

“Tch. Tch. I know you earn well, but you do waste money,” said the father-in-law.

“Papa, that’s the rate for a full-time help. She is good at her work,” Rohit tried to explain.

“Why do you need full time? If a woman is efficient, then she can take care of both work and home.”

“Why do you need full time? If a woman is efficient, then she can take care of both work and home.”

His stance reeked of judgement.

Related reading: What does the judgemental society offer our liberated women?

She decided to speak up

“And how do you define efficiency, Papa?” Sanaya’s tone startled everyone. Rather, her question in the right tone startled everyone.

father in law
Representative image:

After talking a hold of himself, he replied, “You could have opted for a lighter work load, or no work at all. Rohit earns in great numbers. Home and kitchen is your priority. Look at him, he hardly eats.” That was his definition of efficiency.

“Papa, I think he eats just fine. He is already overweight. As for me, I don’t work for money. I work for my existence. This is who I am, and will be. I try to juggle and manage both ends. I do make a mess at times, but then I am human. And I can afford help to assist me at home, so I could put my best foot forward at work.”

Sanaya got the wind up and her boat started to sail.

“Overweight? Who talks like this about her husband?” The mother-in-law was furious.

“Don’t bother, Kamala. The generation today has no morals or respect for others.” The father-in-law had it all figured out.

Accept my frankness

“You know, you can crib behind someone’s back and be a beauty, or talk in front of them and be a beast. I love the beast. I want to talk and I want to be heard – for once and for all.”

Rohit looked at her, but this time she made the disconnect.

“Before you folks came, I promised myself that I won’t speak, but clearly that is not working out. If I talk, I become defiant, bigadi hui, ziddi, but I will take those labels happily. I don’t expect you guys to change your thinking pattern, as I know they are deep rooted by now. But, I also don’t expect you to change me. Just like your son, I have worked hard to be where I am.”

They all had a despising look for Sanaya by now. The mother-in-law gave a nod of disbelief. She had prayed daily to the Almighty for a good wife for her beloved son and this is what she got in return.

Meri pooja mein hi koi kami reh gayi,” she said to herself.

Nahi. Upbringing mein,” Sanaya voiced her opinion. “If only you had taught Rohit to respect a woman and her decisions. I am sure your parents did not give you that liberty, but you had the chance to right a wrong.”

Rohit found an opening to talk, but Sanaya wanted to get it all out before she was slowed down.

Do as you say

“I am not a bad daughter-in-law if I am ambitious or have a different outlook. You may call me beti, but calling someone a daughter and treating her as a daughter are very different. All I expect from you is to not shun me. I believe in myself and whatever I have attained today is because I worked hard for it.”

She got up from the dining table and stacked all the used plates. While taking the plate from Rohit’s hand she mumbled, “I fight men out in the open, in my office premises every day. If only the man in my home could assist me. Fighting with him is the worst.”

struggles n scars native

She left for the kitchen and placed the plates in the sink. Her hands felt light when the load was off, but her heart had never felt more liberated. She had done it – she had put forward her case for justice.

Sanaya placed her hand on Laxmi’s shoulder and both of them smiled. They may not win, but they did not have a thing to lose.

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