You all know me well by now, and you all know my stand on marriage, and all things relationship-wise. I have been frank and honest with you right from the start and that is something I will never compromise, even when I have a hundred readers or a hundred thousand ones.
I have been approached by a lot of girls, some young and others older on my happily-ever-after views on marriage and life post marriage, and while I am quite new to this experience myself, and have so far shared things only limited to my experiences, I felt that it was time to put different sides to the story. One of the girls, who really struck a chord with me with her ordinary story that probably a lot of you might find relatable is what I am going to tell you today.
Again, this is a story that is real, and is circumstantial and also something that young girls experience post their weddings. This is in no way my own personal views, although is something that is definitely a thought stirrer in my head.
So, this girl who spoke to me is Natasha – I don’t know her personally, but given the limited interaction I have had with her, I could feel her, and where she was coming from.
Natasha had written to me after reading one of my blogs, The Great Indian Bahu, where I had dealt on the subject of my experiences on where I stand on forging relationships with the in-laws.
Natasha had taken the last line of my blog to heart, where I had said, that the easiest way to switch from being the daughter-in-law to the daughter, is to make the in-laws your parents.
She wrote to me, “But they aren’t your parents, right? – Then why are we as society hell bent in making them our parents? And we are not their daughters too, and we don’t need to be either. We all have our individual sets of parents – Why are we as a society so stringent on making this relationship comparable to our own parents? – And when we do that, and fail, we are heartbroken. And let down.”
When I read her comments for the first time, I found it kinda cynical, because I have always had a very positive view on this subject and have always looked forward to building a fruitful relationship with my own in-laws.
But Natasha was like me, too – She too wanted all of this when she got married – The Family, The Love, The Respect, The Appreciation.
We spoke on the phone for a long time, and despite being strangers, her story connected with me at an inexplicable level.
Natasha was a good girl, and she was great – friendly, adjusting, loving and above all, genuine. She left her home, and her parents and moved to her husband’s place after her marriage, as dictated by society. And as conditioned from birth, her new house was the permanent address on her passport now, her in-laws were supposed to magically turn into her own parents, his siblings were to transform into her own siblings.
She should have been grateful – She had two families now, but did she, really?
Or did it so happen that in the hope of having two families, she lost out on both?
She did not leave any stone unturned in initiating her relationship with the new family. She chatted with them colloquially, cooked for them the things she knew they loved, and genuinely cared for their welfare. She was close to her mother-in-law, and doted on her at all times. She stopped calling her Aunty one fine morning and replaced it with Mom, in the hope that this simple switch of addressing was going to forever change her life. She also did this in the respect of the new relationship that she had just entered into.
But no one else in the family changed the way they addressed her, strangely. She was expected to address them as her own without having the same love and respect back from them. Nevertheless, she would buy them gifts on special occasions, set up surprise parties on their birthdays and talk to them for long hours. The mother-in-law was great to her as well – She too would pamper her with clothes and gifts at all times, and probably cared for her as much. She had no reason not to.
But Natasha told me, despite this hunky-dory set up, she could never become the daughter.
She would always be the daughter-in-law.
Her mother-in-law had secrets with her own daughter that she could never be a part of. They had a level of camaraderie and conversation that she would never be a part of.
She would always be looked at like the mature adult woman in the household, who could be relied upon for running the show in the kitchen, or adjusting to her surroundings or compromising her needs.
In her own house, Natasha was the kid, and would always be that way.
But she could never be the kid that her sister-in-law is for example, in her new house.
And despite doing everything that she does around the house for everyone, when the time comes for the love and mollycoddle, it would all go to her sister-in-law.
Natasha said that she wasn’t jealous of her sister-in-law, because, she knew that every girl will eventually experience what she had.
I almost cried a little when she said that she just misses being in her own home, where she is everyone’s Laadli, the apple of everyone’s eyes, where she doesn’t have to bother about groceries, and breakfast preparations the second she opened her eyes.
And so, she is stuck in between – Where she cannot be the Laadli that she always was, in her new home, and where she has left behind the house that called her Laadli.
Natasha told me that – All of this disappointment and heartbreak happened to her because society set her up for failure right from the beginning.
Why are his parents yours? – Does it make sense in any way? How can two people automatically become your parents when you get married to the guy? And why do we even expect the in-laws to treat us like we are their daughters? – Because, factually, we are not. And why shouldn’t they love their own daughter more than us? Why is this love comparison existent in the first place?
Most importantly, when girls get married, why do they move to his parents’ house? – Why are his parents, his relatives, his household the cynosure of their life? Why can’t it be the other way round where her parents and her household become the cynosure of their life?
I told Natasha that while I agree with a lot of her points, I still feel that marriage is an opportunity to build new relationships – And isn’t that what we are all here for? – Human to Human connections?
On this she responded, “Reshmi, I absolutely agree with you – We are all here to live as a family, make as many new relationships as possible, but why do these relationships have to be branded in a certain way? Why can’t I still love and respect them as his parents? Why do they have to become my parents? And when you treat them as your parents and they don’t treat you how your own parents used to treat you or how they treat their own daughter, you are left dejected and depressed. Why do we need to put ourselves through this emotional drama?”
I was hooked.
She wanted to tell more.
I let her.
She said, “It was Father’s Day last year, and my sister-in-law told me to wish her father, which I did, doing which was no problem for me at all.”
“But when it was Daughter’s Day, did he wish me? Or did he just tag his own daughter on a Best Daughter post on Facebook, completely ignoring the fact that now he had another daughter too? And how do you think that made me feel?”
I was teary-eyed when she said this.
I could feel her voice tremble a bit too.
“You know Reshmi, it is not really two families that you get, you lose out on the love of your own family, and then you are left with this half-hearted love from this new family too. So, you are really stuck in between. Lost. And unable to move in either direction. Because, now, who is your “own”? – The people you have left behind and don’t live with anymore, or the people who will never pat your back, or take you in their lap or put you to sleep?”
“Or are these luxuries forbidden for a girl when she gets married?”
Hard hitting question from Natasha, girls, what do you have to say?