“Don’t be scared, your papa is always with you.”, you said as I cried hard while hugging you with a heavy heart. You didn’t say these words for the first time. You said the exact same words on my first day of school and then on the first day of college and then on the first day of my job. These words worked better than any anti-anxiety medicine.
It always amazed me how after mummy left us and went to heaven, you gave your 100% to Bhaiya and me. How you effortlessly played the role of ma and papa so beautifully!
And, as I was embarking on a new phase of my life, the familiarity of these words again calmed me down as I sit in the flower-studded car. As you carried pain in your heart and smile on your face, you wished me luck as I embarked on a new phase of my life.
Now as almost 11 months of my marriage have passed, I miss you every day. There are small moments that make me miss you so much and makes me wonder how blessed I am to have you in my life.
In the first few days of marriage, I was given a long list of how to be a daughter-in-law. How I was supposed to talk softly, dress well, and make sure to take care of everyone; because I was no longer just a daughter, I was a daughter-in-law! At that moment, I just couldn’t stop missing you.
How my husband and in-laws had a long list of expectations from me as a daughter-in-law, but your list of expectations from me as a daughter had just one thing on it – To Be Myself!
I was told to wear sarees and suits in the presence of elderly relatives. It never mattered how uncomfortable I was in them. The rule of wearing sarees and heavy work Indian suits couldn’t be broken for me. Because that’s what apparently perfect daughters-in-law are expected to do.
While people were complimenting my new Banarasi Saree, your daughter was missing that good old cotton black pajamas that you brought for her from your business trip!
I was told to get up early no matter how late I slept. It was told to me that daughters-in-law are expected to be the first one to get up in the house. Apparently, that’s what my mother-in-law did and that’s what is expected from me. Looks like the daughter-in-law’s sleep is not important to anyone.
In those moments, I miss how you always scolded me to complete my 8 hours of sleep! How you would lecture me on the importance of sleep and how it keeps us healthy and effective throughout the day.
When I made my first meal here, someone said, salt is less and someone said oil is more. Some said Rajma is less spicy, some said Kheer is less sweet. And, while I just kept smiling saying will make it better next time, I missed how you relished my Rajma-Chawal. It wasn’t perfect. Still, you appreciated the effort that I took to make it for you after working hard throughout the day!
From time to time, I face sarcastic comments on how I am not good enough at certain things. They laugh and I just smile. Sometimes, it feels as if they gang up and treat me like an outsider. In those lonely moments, I miss you so much!
Do you remember how happy you were when I got a 3-month long stint in Singapore? You were so excited for me! You were so happy for me! But, now even if I have to go for a week on a business trip, I am told that my family should be my priority and my work should come second!
It’s being told to me on multiple occasions that my new home is my only home and my new family is my only family. Because that’s the way it has always been. But, then why this home doesn’t look like my own, and this family still struggles to accept me as their own!
Don’t worry Papa! I know these are initial hiccups and I would eventually find ways to create my own path. I am not bowing down to society’s regressive norms because that’s what you taught me! Stand for yourself, even if that means you have to stand alone!
Papa, I want to tell you that what I am today is all just because of you and mummy! Thanks for giving me the freedom to be myself, thanks for giving me the courage and patience to sail through tough times; thanks for making me a strong, resilient, and independent woman!