Being sandwiched between wife and mom hasn’t been easy for me. We had an arranged marriage, and had chosen to live together as a couple, away from my parents’ home. I believed the distance would be healthy, and cementing our relationship should be the primary motive in the first few months.
The problems started a year ago, when after a year of blissful married life living apart, we moved to my parents’ house with an aim of saving up for our own house. The first few weeks were stressful as well as exciting. The stress came from the packing, moving, painting the walls, and having heated arguments with both parents and wife to decide what furniture and things to keep and what to sell or discard. It took a month for us to eventually settle down into a routine. My wife had, in a month after moving in, begun waking up at dawn to cook for the whole family. My mom too, though retired recently, woke up just as early as my wife did, and there were a few clashes of opinions regarding cuisine choices, cooking methods and so on.
Nothing took them to any extreme, and we thought we could handle it well. At least I did.
Then came the biggest drama I had ever had to handle at home: the issue of cooking while one had periods. Having grown up in a deeply conservative and religious family, my mom had a clear rule – never enter the kitchen while on periods, and therefore, had slowly begun asking my wife when her ‘dates’ were.
Thoroughly disturbed and even disgusted at my mom’s prodding, my wife began to withdraw into a shell, and often remained in the room, and stopped the regular conversations with my mom and my dad.
I was blissfully unaware of this until the issue burst out one evening. My mom began lamenting at a rather loud voice about the decline of culture among the younger lot, and how it made her thoroughly disgusted at the very thought that she had to often eat food cooked by someone on her periods. My wife had to get up and come to the hall to answer my mom, and there ensued a big argument that seemed unending.
Related reading: My mum ill-treated my wife despite all that she did for her
While understanding my mom’s feelings, and equally, my wife’s predicament, I had to quickly think on my feet, and chose to stand by my wife. The reason: science. I began a passionate argument about how period blood is not impure as is thought, and with today’s hygiene products and health consciousness, one can absolutely cook even while on periods. Why not? And that opened the floodgates. Of tears. My mom began calling her close ones, taking the issue far and wide, and we had a few ‘courtesy visits’ by aunts who tried to ‘drive some sense’ into my wife.
My mom even went to the extent of calling my wife’s defiance a blasphemous act, and how the gods whose temples my mom visited every day would ensure that my wife would go to hell for polluting the sanctity of the place. Driven to tears, my wife banged her door shut and went further into her shell.
I had to face awkward situations as my mom called me during my office hours every other day to ask if my wife was on her periods or not!
I was angered too, and had some strong arguments against my mom’s standing. My dad, not knowing what to say, chose not to say anything, and continued his life as if these arguments were nothing.
After a few months, with neither party relenting, but continued doubly strong with their opinions, we had to sit together and decide on moving apart once again. My heart did break a little. But I endured, and stood by my wife’s side. I still do.
There are some issues that even the Supreme Courts doesn’t have answers for. Matters of faith. Even at the peak of scientific progress and awareness in this age of intelligence, rationality does have to jostle for space and fight for its right of way every time with the old bastions of religion and die-hard cultural practices. Families break apart due to these wars, and mine was unfortunately one among them. Being sandwiched, especially on this issue wasn’t easy. I think it would be wise for families to discuss all these before marriage!