Cross Connections Series: In Love

Written By

Indira Anand

Cross Connections Series: In Love Loading

Editor’s Note: Our #AtypicalWomanWrites Second-prize winner, Indira Anand, kicks off the ‘Cross Connections’ series on In-laws today with this piece on how she and her mother-in-law have broken every stereotype in the book on in-laws. All the women out there who would like to share similar (touching, loving, positive) or dissimilar (funny, sarcy, outrageous, humorously negative) accounts of this complex relationship are invited to write to ushasi@siyawoman.com with their pieces of roughly 600 to 700 words.

I stand in the parking lot, waving at the departing car, crying my heart out. Amma waves back, tears in her eyes. Moments ago we have said our goodbyes to each other, hugging each other with no words to say, emotions overwhelming us. Appa’s eyes also shine with unshed tears. My in-laws are leaving to go back home, after spending three months with us. Three months that have sped by, and we already miss each other.

Unbidden my thoughts go back seventeen years when I met Appa and Amma for the first time. I was intimidated, scared and a little worried of tripping over my saree or saying the absolute wrong thing. In fact, I was so tense that I literally ran in full tilt, and did a namaskaram within ten seconds of entering the room. The ‘bride sees groom’ ceremony began with a bang. The rest of that evening is a blur to me. I do recall the last few minutes when everyone vacated the room (except one aunt, who had already written the both of us off as a lost cause and who needed to be dragged out of the room). My to-be husband and I spoke about Bombay of all things, and friends, among other topics. In those few minutes, we saw something in each other that made us decide we could actually make a life together.

And so, a whole new journey of discovery began. A whole new set of parents. A new sister and brother-in-law. A new nephew. A whole new family to love. Over the years we’ve become a close-knit family and I feel grateful for two wonderful supportive families by my side as I face life’s challenges.

For the past few years it has become a routine for them to visit us here in the UAE. As I turn my back on the car, I cannot help but smile when I recall the reactions I get when I announce to friends or colleagues that my in-laws are on their way. It’s usually dread, combined with shock and absolute negativity. If not that, it’s the confused reaction of someone who is unsure how to react to my announcement. Am I expecting them to be happy or sad?

Funny thing is, there would be no second guessing had I announced my own parents are visiting. An announcement like that would be met with instant acceptance and happiness.

For years, the in-laws have automatically been given a bad name in Indian culture. From Bollywood movies with nasty looking mother-in-laws and twisted sister-in-laws, to clichés and advertisements where the mother-in-law examines the daughter-in-law’s rotis like they are nuclear waste, it’s a conditioning of centuries and ages.

Today, there are many stories like mine of genuine affection, respect and understanding between the husband’s family and the daughter-in-law. I know I am not the only one. But culture has still not caught up to this phenomenon. I have to admit, sixteen years ago I approached my marriage and the relations it brought with complete dread. Why? Because everything I knew and read about the proverbial in-laws was dread-worthy. Whether for better or worse, neither my father nor mother thought to give me any marital or in-law advice. It baffles me to this day that I was not the recipient of “the talk”, having seen so many of them in Hindi movies, with a sad shehnai playing in the background. For my parents it was the last wedding in the family, they were probably too relieved to be done with weddings to offer any advice.

It helped that I had fewer negative expectations than my peers. I understood that it takes time to build any relationship; be it a colleague, a friend, a lover, a husband. Then why do we expect that from day one, the relationship between in-laws will be set and ready like halwa? I cannot take credit for this success story though. Not entirely. My husband and father-in-law get the credit for keeping safe distance from their wives in times of conflict, letting us sort things ourselves. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law get credit for not voicing a single piece of advice or opinion over the years. And my mother-in-law gets credit for deciding that she is going to concentrate on the positives rather than negatives.

My mother-in-law and I choose to be positive, even though there are things we disagree on. We choose to give the benefit of doubt. We choose to support each other. And we choose to be in love rather than in law.

And guess what? It works!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Indira is 40 years old and settled in Dubai for the last 18 years along with her husband. She works in IT Operations with a leading airline. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, traveling the world and other creative pursuits like knitting stuffed toys, clay modeling, drawing and painting. With her husband working in a furniture factory, Indira has the unique advantage of imagining a home improvement and actually having it come to life as imagined! A kidney transplant in 2010 changed a lot for Indira including her outlook to life and learning to live fully and in the moment. In her non-existent spare time, she also writes fiction and about strong women who have made it through everything. Catch her blog at mykidneybeans.wordpress.com

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