I got married to the guy of my choice. He is not from the same caste as mine and unlike other similar love stories mine was a drama-less one. My whole family accepted the guy wholeheartedly and his family accepted me or so they pretended.
The first few days after marriage were like a dream come true. I had stayed away from my family due to college or work and now that I got to stay with my in-laws, I was genuinely happy. I gave the same love and respect to my mother-in-law as I would to my own mother and she treated me like a daughter; at least for a few weeks.
And then the story started. Slowly members of his family started asking me and my husband to move out of the house. We both didn’t want to move away from our parents so we kept ignoring these remarks. However slowly, the real face of this magical breed known as mother-in-law came into light. It was Ganesha festival and after my marriage I wanted to keep Ganesha at home. I was excited but when I asked my mother-in-law, she clearly said No!
Since I am a North Indian and my husband is a South Indian, language was a big hurdle between me and my mother-in-law, so I asked my husband to figure out why she said that. She told my husband that a lot of work goes into it; like cleaning the whole house, washing utensils and making sweets so it would be better if we kept Ganesha the following year.
Fair enough! I was convinced but still felt low and my beloved husband noticed that and took me out for a dinner date. We met a few old friends afterwards and by the time we reached home, it was really late. As soon as I entered the house, I was surprised to see that the whole house had been cleaned, kitchen was washed and Pooja place was spotless. Wow! My mother-in-law did all this for me? I was so overwhelmed.
I got up in the morning and saw my mother-in-law preparing Modaks. I was so excited, I offered to help and she asked me to get a few things from the market. I asked my husband to accompany me so that we could bring Ganesha too. But wait! I was not allowed to bring Ganesha. Then what was all this preparation for?
“Today is our festival, we pray to Lord Ganesha and offer sweets but you can’t bring the idol and keep it here for three days,” said my mother-in-law. Honestly, I couldn’t understand what was wrong if I kept the idol for three days? Well, I anyway did the pooja according to her even though I was hurt deep inside.
However, this became the case whenever I wanted to do something as per my customs. I also started noticing that her sidelining me in their social functions. She used to praise me in front of their relatives whenever I was around but I was never a part of their conversation and I blamed myself for not knowing their language.
I tried to learn their language so that I could interact with them but within four months of our marriage, I was blamed for everything. Getting up late was on top of the list. I started feeling unwanted and ignored.
I was not being given the responsibility of the kitchen but I was expected to wash utensils and clean the house everyday. It was my first birthday after marriage and I was very excited. I was expecting a lot of wishes and of course gifts too but nothing like that happened.
Usually I don’t like to eat rice and everyone in the family knew that. My mother-in-law stopped cooking chapatis. Many times, if I came back late from work, there was nothing for me to eat. Looks like a small thing but as a family member I felt hurt because when a lady is cooking for four other members of family, how could she ignore one person?
Mother-in-law is like a mother, right? How could a mother let her daughter sleep without eating? I still ignored it. Whenever I cooked food, she did not like it. She would make something south Indian for herself whenever she saw me cooking. There were days when I was expected to cook for just myself. I used to feel as if I’m here only to wash utensils. I started feeling like a maid eventually.
Apart from my husband and my younger brother-in-law, there was no one who was even bothered whether I’m at home or not. This affected my relationship with my husband but it was my brother-in-law who took care of things and helped us move out of the house, though my husband could never accept that his own mother was doing this.
Now we stay in a separate house away from them but they don’t miss us. Oh sorry I should say they don’t miss me. My mother-in-law did not try to stop us from leaving the house, she was actually happy. When we were leaving the house, she gave me that look which clearly said “I won this war” and my heart was shattered.