Before you read this post (and if you are Cousin T, I don't think you should read this one) I would like to make it very clear that this was not written to show you what rotten in-laws I have or how sorry you should be for me. I have no problems with you sharing your own experiences and I will not judge you or your in-laws any more than I expect you to judge me or mine.
A chance remark to Vicky this evening was in hindsight a remarkable milestone in our marriage. We were looking at a photograph of our phoolshojya (first night) and he said that I didn’t look happy. Without thought or deliberation I said that I didn’t because I wasn’t. Only hours ago, while being dressed for my wedding reception, I had been told in front of a roomful of strangers that I was ugly. The finished results of that dressing emphasized my worst features and the flowers fell from my hair before the first guests arrived at the venue. My saree fell out when I finally went to dinner – I cannot remember any other public occasion on which my saree has come apart, and I’ve worn sarees since I was a little child. We ate a dinner of leftovers since nobody had remembered to keep anything aside for Vicky or me. I had sat there on that dais feeling colder and colder on that January night until somebody saw the goose pimples on my arms and borrowed a shawl from somebody else who was going home and didn’t need it any longer.
The fact that I could say all this without any bitterness and that Vicky didn’t feel personally attacked says volumes about how far the two of us have come, I think.
There are many reasons why I never wrote about our wedding. The bitterness set in from my first night at Vicky’s parents’ home when I was served a fish curry gone bad (I don’t eat fish and my in-laws knew that) while the rest of the gathering feasted on catered delicacies*. There were months of political wrangling which resulted in a wedding date that ensured that my maternal uncles and aunt missed my wedding. There were so many things gone wrong before I first raised my voice at Vicky and blamed him for ruining my life. He took the latter part seriously but couldn’t bring himself to believe that his mother would treat his bride with anything less than the kindness and hospitality that she is famous for. It was weeks before he saw for himself the treatment I received and even that didn’t help because where tact and discretion were needed, he yelled at the two women in his life.
(*Just to be clear, the tradition is that the bride is not fed food cooked in her new home that night. I forget the reason behind this but I do know this does not mean she has to be fed bad food!)
It has taken us literally years to work our way out of that initial shaky start. But the events of the last one month, from his standing up for me where I didn’t even know I was being attacked to his making a hot lunch from scratch this afternoon while I slept off the effects of a midnight rehearsal make me grateful anew that I trusted in my guardian angel and married this man. For all the trouble he has introduced in my life, he has also brought in far more kindness and caring than I think I deserve.