“Bhai Sahab, don’t worry! We are very modern. We will treat your daughter like our own.” My mother-in-law’s words left my parents, especially my mother comforted. Because my mother knew how her daughter strongly believes in equality and self-respect, which many Indian households fail to offer. But, hardly she knew my mother-in-law’s words were just words.
After 3 years of marriage, I have realized that neither my in-laws accept me like their own nor they are modern. Frankly, I am not surprised. Maybe somewhere deep down I knew my marriage wouldn’t be easy. Because, neither I fit in our patriarchal society’s definition of sanskaaribahu nor I ever wanted to be.
But for my mother, it was a shock. Her only mistake was that she actually believed my mother-in-law’s words when she said they are modern and progressive!
My mother called up my mother-in-law to check how she was doing. And, my mother-in-law thought it was the perfect time to let my mother know how her daughter was failing her husband! How my mother raised a daughter who doesn’t know how to be a good wife or a daughter-in-law. How her bechara son was suffering in the marriage because I keep working or taking calls.
Disappointed in me, my mother called me and try to lecture me on why I need to be better at time management. Why do I need to learn how to maintain my work-life balance? Why do I need to make sure Kunal is my priority and not work? Why being a good wife is much more important than being a department head at my company? Why Kunal needs to be fed properly, and if he isn’t, it’s my failure?
After 15 minutes of continuous lecturing, I lost it.
“Mummy, I married Kunal for companionship, not to baby sit him. If he is hungry, then he is well equipped to cook for himself. We work as a team, there are days when I am free – I cook and there are days when he is. I have never heard Kunal complaining about it. Because, he understands what it takes to be with a career oriented woman.
And, it is so sad that when my mother-in-law was telling you how I failed as a daughter-in-law, you chose not to say a word. You could have said that your daughter also works equally hard as her son; You could have told her how proud you are of your daughter that she is trying to manage both her work and her marriage!
Rather you silently listened to her and called me to tutor me on how to be a good wife. Mummy, what’s the point of teaching your daughter to be strong and independent when you ask her to give up on her dreams after marriage! What’s the point of raising your daughter to believe that she is no less than a man when just one phone call can shatter your belief that wife and husband should be equal in marriage!”
After listening to my views, mummy apologized and hung up! But, this is the sad reality of many modern marriages – where women are shamed and blamed for seeking equality in marriage; where women are burdened with so many responsibilities that they have to give up on their dreams!
I refuse to give up on my dreams. I refuse to be treated anything lesser than my husband in our marriage. I love him but I love myself and my dreams too! While my husband and I are creating a path of our marriage different than our parents, here is what I have to tell all those mothers-in-law, who feel it’s their daughter-in-law’s responsibility to feed their son:
Dear Indian Mother-in-law, Please teach your son how to cook food. He is in a relationship. Not at a restaurant where wife has to feed him! And, if you can’t treat your son and daughter in law equal, please don’t call yourself progressive and modern. Because you are not!
For the last time, daughters-in-law are not your son’s baby-sitter. Please stop treating them like one!