The invisible family member in the saas-bahu post.

An excerpt from an unpublished comment in response to, ‘From an Anonymous  DIL, Wife and Daughter‘ :

The biggest and most funniest thing is that it is a tussle between TWO WOMEN RPT TWO WOMEN. No feminists mentions this. This reminds me of an old saying in Hindi — Woman is the biggest enemy of another woman. Mother-in-law and newly DIL fighting over a bone. Pity the poor husband.

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Why do I feel there would have been no saas-bahu post if it wasn’t for an invisible member?

Because no bahu would need to worry about what the saas thinks she should wear, eat, cook, drink etc … if there wasn’t a man who quietly conveys that he would not like it if she did not.

He has the society, custom and tradition by his side. He and the society forget that he is the reason why the daughter in law is in this relationship.

And it’s supposed to be a partnership.

Who should be held responsible if she feels, “...petty things seem impossible to handle and everything looks like its going to collapse…“? [More here]

Here was a girl working, studying, meeting friends, living a normal life.. and then suddenly everything changes. It doesn’t have to.

Times are changing. Whether we like it or not, women are beginning to have choices. They are realising that there’s more to life than getting married to a man who doesn’t think they are an equal partner. Soon, it’s not going to be possible to force a young girl to live an unhappy life.

If we want families to get along, or even stay together, we better make it worth while for the one member without whom it would be impossible to have this family system.

If we do not acknowledge that the system is biased, and if we do not change it fast, husbands will increasingly find themselves having to choose between a divorce or moving out with their spouse to make their own homes. (And nothing wrong with that either).

Maybe then Live-in relationships will find favour because they might free women from one-way-relationship responsibilities?

Traditionally husbands could live in reasonable comfort while remaining  invisible.  Infact they were discouraged from ‘interfering‘, which basically meant they must not support the wife. This generally made a new family member feel isolated. Today it should not be difficult for a middle class husband to imagine the wife’s discomfort – more so if they have had a similar upbringing, studied in similar schools, read similar books – how would he like to live with her family in similar circumstances?

I know of this man who stopped his wife from objecting to being bullied by his mother. He even convinced her to apologise to his mother sometimes. He  claimed to be stressed and fed-up with the situation at home, but continued to subject the equally (or more) fed up and stressed wife to it. His younger brother joined in finding faults with everything his brother’s wife (bhabhi) did.  The siblings said everyone is their house must obey their mom. Then the younger brother got married. He moved to first floor, made it clear that his wife was ‘modern‘ so she could wear whatever she liked and they went out whenever they pleased. I wonder how the older brother felt when he saw this? The family accepted the situation, they knew this son always had a mind of his own, while the elder one was the dutiful, obedient one.

I think the younger brother learnt from the example of the older one. He realised it was not possible to have a happy family unless his wife was happy. He refused to stay invisible.

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*Bahu – Daughter in law

Saas- Mother in law

Bhabhi – Brother’s wife

Sixty. And nowhere to go.

9 20 PM : I stepped into the balcony to call the cat inside and heard the distinct thump of fists landing on somebody’s back.  Dimly visible in the shadows, on a bench, was the back of a white shirt and a hazy figure.

I had heard similar sounds around 7 30- 8 PM. I was suspicious, but although dark, the park had been crowded then, Volley Ball and Football matches going on, the audience scattered all over the park. The two dark figures, I was sure, were from amongst them.

But now the park was empty, and I saw lifted arms folding hair into a bun. The sound must have been something else. Suddenly the shadow of the man (it was very dark) moved and more thumps were heard – he was hitting and muttering something angrily. It was too unexpected – who were they? Was he known to her? How were they out of their homes at this hour? I wanted to warn this man that someone had seen him.

The park is behind the houses. No one, not even the watchman goes there at this time. I called out aloud to our cat, loud enough for him to hear. He hit her again. I called out to the kids to call their dad (he wasn’t home). The man looked back and stood up.  A hefty man in shorts and t-shirt, the girl was skinny and wore tight trousers. They walked away like a couple taking an after dinner evening stroll.

I thought of all the things I could have said to that girl to  let her know this was abuse. I wanted to tell her about this email I received yesterday.

It was an anonymous email about an upper middle-class woman who wants to know what her options are. She is a professionally qualified, a Gold Medalist – her husband made her give up her jobs one after another and he sold the house they had in her name. He has been verbally and physically abusive all their lives.

If she walks out now, where can she go in Delhi and NCR? She is sixty.

She could have walked out earlier, but she thought it would be better for their son to have a ‘normal‘ family life. She regrets the decision today. She did not know that there can be no normal family life if there is Domestic Violence involved. Even today she feels ready to leave but also fears that “He can’t manage without her.” She needs guidance.

So if this young girl on the dark bench in the park is thinking things will improve, I would like her to know about a sixty year old woman who knows better now.

Related posts:

Is a Known Devil really better?

When a daughter refuses to go back.

If someone dislocated your jaw.

If she was born somewhere else.

Just when I blogged about our attitude towards mothers, in cases of teen pregnancy, here’s another horrifying piece of  news,

To save herself from the ignominy of being a unwed mother, a 16-year-old girl left her two-hour-old baby girl to die at a park… near a water tank wearing minimal clothes. The child was bleeding and even the umbilical cord had not been properly cut. Following pressure from her family members …after the baby was born around midnight, she took her baby from her sector 5 residence and left her near the water tank at sector 9, [Click to read details]

Another news article says,

There were blood stains all the way from the spot till the door of her house,… the girl’s condition was bad as the baby had been delivered at home. She was taken to BK Hospital, where she is currently under treatment. The police said the girl’s mother told them that her daughter had had an affair with a boy in the neighbourhood, who later refused to marry her when she found that she was pregnant” [Click to read more]

A third news article says,

A 16-year-old girl was arrested for allegedly abandoning her day-old baby girl after giving birth on Wednesday nightA case under Section 317 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 9 police station. [Click to read more]

Why isn’t the father arrested? Isn’t he equally responsible?

This must be traumatic for a 16 year old.  Do we have special laws to handle such cases?

The way I see it, she must have found herself isolated. She needed medical and emotional support. Instead her family let her go out two hours  after the delivery to abandon the baby, bleeding and cold.  The baby had turned blue when she was found. They probably did not know that they could give the baby up for adoption.

What if the trauma, physical and emotional, and the postpartum depression drive her to suicide?

Is that a solution? A  moral lesson to all the other immoral girls perhaps, because the last line in one news article said,

There has been a growing number of such incidents in Faridabad town with five pregnancies out of wedlock reported in the past three months.”

To some Indians that is the biggest concern here.

For anyone who says the 16 year old is at fault, I would say if she knew or understood the consequences of what she was doing, she would have at least used contraception. We do not think a 16 year old can drive, drink, vote, marry or take decisions, but we are ready to arrest her and blame her for being a victim of ignorance and bad judgement.

And what about the father?

Perhaps the parents feel they had no choice. And now who would marry a girl with a baby, bad reputation and a police record?  (And goes without saying, No Marriage No Life, for an Indian woman).

Now would it not have been lucky for this girls if she was born in the West?

Mothers and daughters.

My mom visited me the other day and the first thing she asked was to watch ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ at 1 pm. I groaned aloud and explained that with Airtel IPTV, she could watch any missed shows later also.

“Great then I also want to watch the last night’s show I missed yesterday!”

So my mom caught two shows I strongly disapprove of, one after another. We ate lunch while watching a group of women circling a peepal tree, praying for their husband’s long life and listening to Savitri’s story.

Savitri snatched her husband back from Yama, the god of death. (Even if we don’t hear of it, I am sure her husband would have done the same for her.) She asked Yama for a hundred sons… (and not one daughter) so he had to return her husband so she could have those hundred sons (no daughters). Now the entire nation seems to follow numerous examples like this, and everybody wants sons.

Gandhari in Mahabharata also asked for a hundred sons. Didn’t they miss having daughters? Sons are fine and good, but isn’t it fun for women to have life-long friends in their daughters?

I saw a friend transform. She had problems at home, and she didn’t seem to care how she looked or lived. She dressed conservatively, wore drab colours and seldom stepped out of her house.

Then her daughter grew up 🙂

During the last few years she took the mother with her to the gym, got her a haircut, both got a music teacher, they go for movies and shopping together,  and the daughter gradually changed her mother’s entire wardrobe. This happens with many women. Grown up daughters become best friends and allies. My friend’s problems are still there but now she has someone who understands and stands by her. She also looks visibly more confident with her new look.

When we were teenagers, my mother used to say she had heard of mothers being close to sons, and wondered why nobody said anything about the amount of fun mothers have with daughters.

My favourite poem by Usha Pisharody says it so well!

For a Daughter I Wish I’d Had!!!

By Usha Pisharody

Audacious smiles

laughter ringing clear-
warm hugs and
little sudden pecks on my cheeks!
A whirlwind of a girl;
now here, gone in a flash!
endearing entreaties-
unquestioning love!
Long long hours of girlish talk-
boys, books, heroes and men!
Life, love, trust and THAT!
Confiding giggles-
while ogling the boys…;)
summing them up, then
walking by in disdain!!
Cheering her up
when sadness strikes-
being there for her…
just in case, she asks!
Holding her hand-
without her knowing..
as only moms can do;
though she, being mine,
would know it too…!!!
Sharing myself with her-
my fears, my joys
my secrets, and my ploys-
Ending the day in warmth
so wonderful
so fierce and filling..
Wishing each mother had
a daughter..
so like mine!!

And a little girl is 19 now.

And the Polka Dotted Cup goes to…

Normally three members in the family race each other to the door when the bell rings.

Mr GS  is Gabbar Singh, our Lab.

Sher Khan is Mr SK, the cat who owns us… [not ShahRukh Khan I am afraid ;)]

Ms Mutt? (Ms M) A dog with a cat’s mind 🙂   SK thinks she is his mother, and she is the only one who can walk away with GS’s bone, although she is half his size.

But this morning they sensed who rang the door bell. The Vet is only the only human they are afraid of… and hence THIS 55 WORD FICTION CONTEST.

THE PRESTIGIOUS POLKA DOTTED CUP

But there are some who not need me to tell them all this!  Here’s what our Honorary Judge HRE Hitchwriter has to say in his 364 words judgement 🙂

I was pinching myself when I read a DM from IHM !!! She wanted me to judge a contest!! Off late I was in work and wasn’t really scanning the reader but here I am !!!

The best part about judging a contest is you don’t have to worry about the guessing !!! phew…

When I got the DM I read this post of 55’er from IHM and I gotta seriously admit I had no clue !!!! But since I am the only honest guy going around I guess IHM decided that I am going to be playing judge… and I must confess I have not received a single bribe offer thanks to her not declaring who the judge would be !!! Sigh  😦  : (

The winner.. err… first of all … I must say this…

Smita – she is last !!!!!!! what a guess !!!!!!!!!! seriously even people like me who didn’t guess were better I guess !!!!!!!!! 😛 😛 😛 😛 Vimmmuu you really need to read her guess… !!!

p.s. had to get vimmmuu involved to get Smita’s eyes off me.. !!! phew !!!

And

Solilo is debarred from all future contests… this lady is seriously bugged with SRK !!! she cant think of anything other than Shahrukh khan so unless we have a contest in which the answer is Shahrukh Khan we wont let her participate !!! sigh !!

The winner well there are too many of them who have their screw loose… I told IHM if anyone guesses it right … they have to be seriously good guessers and the best guessers are ….

Rakesh

Ritu – she was near about there, plus she was willing to give a bribe !!

Suranga

Quirky Indian – boy your aim is too good and precise !

Pins and Ashes – yes your brains are indeed dead !  😦

Shilpadesh

Crafty – yes the polka dotted mug is yours !!!!  😀 😀

Deeps, Parul, Comfortablynam were close but they didn’t spell the VET !!!!

Some were really imaginative… milkman, taxman (I thought that too 😥 ), loan shark, insurance agent and what not !!!  😆

Congrats to all the winners and I await some goodies from ya all !!!!

55 Words Fiction:Guess and win.

Guessing is my Cup Of Tea

Guessing is my Cup Of Tea

Guess what’s happening in the 55 words fiction below and and win this badge. Judges’ names not to be revealed until announcement of results to avoid allegations of foul play and bribing.

[If you are not reading this at (https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/), then you are reading stolen content. The owner of the site you are on has stolen this article and is making money by you reading it. If this article interests you, please go to (https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/) to read it on its original site and do not return to this one. Thank you.]

The door bell rang.

Terrified stiffening… followed by chaos.

Mr SK ran past the domestic helpers he trusted, to hide in a wardrobe. Ms M pushed her ageing self under a bed.

Others stood up, a chair fell… breakfast was forgotten.

Startled by the chair, Mr GS was trapped.

The visitor smiled.

Mr GS shivered.

My wasted advice!

I was driving and Daughter was gushing over how much she loves the vibrant colours of the ethnic wear we had just bought for her, and then Radio One plays this beautiful song, “Aaj din chadiya tere rang warga…”

The beauty of his plea was striking after the post about Stalkers and Losers yesterday.

IHM: ‘”Wo jo mujhe dekh ke hanse, pana chahoon raat din jise, rabba mainu naam kar use, tainu dil da wastaa…” (The one I meet in my dreams, the one I want to be mine, God, give that one to me, my heart is breaking…) I never noticed the lyrics before!  …this is a lovely song.

Daughter: I would be scared to ask God for something like this, … what if God grants the wish and I realise he wasn’t the right guy?

IHM: You can add a clause in your prayers, ” God, only if he is the right one, then and only then should he be mine, if he isn’t, then may I feel nothing for him, and may he feel nothing for me.”  😉

Daughter: The best I like are the yellows! Mustard would go well with red.

My advice is wasted on them!

Her grandmom’s daughter?

Somebody is traveling all by herself for the first time today. It’s no big deal except that when they were young I was sometimes told I was overprotective, generally on occasions like weddings because I didn’t let them out of my sight. I feared it was on such occasions when everybody thought someone else was watching over the kids, that kids were most unsafe…

When I let her go to a (well-organised) trip to Europe some of the same people were surprised. They didn’t realize that my worry was never the chance of their becoming …err corrupted, but their being safe. We tend to mix mistrust with protectiveness. Anyway today my mom (she never thought I was overprotective) called to say she was proud of her grand daughter, and was glad she was more like her than me 😉

So the sounds heard in this house might be different for the two following weeks.

Endless conversation. Constant music. Excited barking. HBO. And an occasional sibling argument.

Two pairs of eyes will follow a human and they will look like they understand every word when she sings to them, her usual…

I better rush, it’s time to pick her.

How is a dog your best friend?

[Edited to add: This 55er is easier to understand if you realise how amazing is a… A DOG”S VOCABULARY...]

8:30 PM.

Son’s engrossed in IPL. I ask, “Aren’t you hungry?”

Thump goes an eager tail.

Nobody asked you!

Looks away sheepishly.

There’s…

Ears perk up.

“…daal and bhindi.”

Ears look bored.

Bhindi?!! Can’t we order Pizza, Ma?”

Tail’s all ears!

Two legs slide back, two stretch in-front…

Time to get up and lend support.

55 WORDS FICTION

A literary ;) work will be considered 55 Fiction if it has:

Fifty-five words or less (A non-negotiable rule)

A setting, One or more characters, Some conflict, and A resolution.

(Not limited to moral of the story)

He ain’t my best friend!! 🙄

Here’s another cricket fan I know, he also forgets his dinner when it comes to the IPL…Vote for him, and support him 🙂

2d81cgi

Who gave you your thoughts?

Uma’s post on her early influences, Solilo’s post on religious tolerance and some discussion on this blog made me wonder what makes us think the way we do…

A friend in class IV told me she always murmured the words of the aarti during the assembly, instead of ‘Our father who art in heaven’ in our Christian school. I had gone home and told my mother proudly, that I was going to do the same. She told me it did not matter what words or language we used, so long as we prayed from our heart.

Our Moral Science teacher talked to us about praying before we went to bed. Every night, we had to tell God what we did all day, if we did something we shouldn’t have, it was time to promise to ourselves, we won’t repeat it. This prayer time was a time to make promises to God.

She talked to us about ‘conscience’ or a little voice inside us which always tells us if we are wrong. And those who listen to that voice, she said, will never do any wrong.

She talked about compassion. She talked about how, like a loving parent, God was always there for us, his children. (She called God ‘Him’ always ;))

Were these Christians beliefs? She did not say which God. And under the Amar Chitra Katha influence I used to pray to every God I could remember, for several years, and any new name learnt was promptly added to the list.

We also had a Sanskrit teacher who didn’t approve of us giggling, and said those who laugh too much today were going to cry later. But we loved his stories.  We argued when he said every family must have a son to carry forward the family name.

One of his biggest influences was the story of Dhruva – he said the North Star was named after him. I wanted to know how standing on one leg for months could get someone to meet God. He explained that basically ‘tapasya’ meant Will Power and Discipline, that both could get us anything we wanted. I still believe that. As a kid I followed his advice and practiced building a strong Will Power very seriously by giving up Orange Bar ice cream. 😉

Once a friend told me there was a ghost on a tree near our place. I was terrified until my mother said the way Bhootkaal meant, ‘past tense’, bhoot meant past. She must have sounded like she meant it, till today ghosts don’t scare me.

My mom says her dad taught her to be careful of humans instead of fearing ghosts. When she said she was going to tie a rakhi and make a class mate her brother, he told her class mates could only be friends, only her brother could be her brother.

But all early influences are not permanent. Some make us rebel. My mother strongly believed in marrying within the community. She thought we sisters should dote upon our only brother. Our Sanskrit teacher’s talk about religion often veered towards gender bias. My grandfather thought girls should not care for their looks.

So perhaps we just pick some and leave some? I wonder how much can we be influenced. Are these early influences permanent? I guess some people change more easily than others do…