Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Long View

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.

20 comments:

dipali said...

I'm so glad, Sue. You've both come a long way.

Just Like That said...

Hugs for that long ago hurt, Sue. Some things while forgotten, can't quite be forgiven. In my case at least. My in-laws refused to be present for our wedding. And while I was happy during my wedding and have put their meaningless gesture to the back of my mind, and we get along pretty well now, I haven't quite forgiven them for it. Not so much for me, as for the hurt it brought to my parents... And every now and then, when I see how caring and considerate my husband is towards them, I wonder how they could do that to him.
Hugs.

ummon said...

beautiful post. touchwood, and to many more hot lunches and cool-headed arguments :)

dipali said...

@Just Like That: I'm so sorry to hear that- hard to forgive and forget such a hurtful gesture:(
Hugs, my dear.

u said...

Hug. Didn't have the best of times with mine either, so empathise. Like you, so glad I married my husband.

R's Mom said...

Hugs Sue...glad that you have such a strong support now..

@JLT: I cant imagine anyone doing that honestly!! you are a very strong person

Itchingtowrite said...

hugs Sue

T said...

Here's a reason I know as to why we are not allowed to have food at the in-laws' place on the first night. The 'bhaat-kapor' (where the man offers to take responsibility for his wife's food and clothes) is offered only the day after. Till then, no food at his place! I had to carry a handful of rice when I left home, so imagine!

Suchismita said...

In my experience talking about the wedding to my husband or in-laws has always gone down very badly. So yes, I am going to tell you today how bitter the memory of getting married was for me.

On the day of the reception, I found my mother in law howling in her room. I went to ask her when the women from the parlour were arriving and I was told no one was coming. I was to do my make up and hair by myself. Why? Because she still hadn't come to terms with the fact that I wasn't the girl she had wanted...the girl that had dated her son for three years before disappearing one day. Now that is when I put my foot down. I went to the parlour and called up my sister in law who came there and paid for the entire make up and hairdo. It felt a bit embarrassing, to be taking the favour from my family when I should have had it done from the in-laws, but again I wanted to get over with it, so I did not think. My mother in law helped me put on the saree, there were no flowers in my hair, and none of the flowers sent with my trousseau were permitted to be put on me.

The next morning I sat and watched while everyone ate. And generally spoke, in front of me, how it was easy for my father to pay for the wedding with all the money he had made in bribes when he was a policeman. No one thought of offering me breakfast. At lunch time, someone remembered that the notun bou hadn't eaten so I was given some leftover sweets from the night before. It was too late for the luchi-torkari of the morning, you see.

By the end of the it all I was too tired. So I slept and woke up an hour after my in-laws did. In the meanwhile my mother in law had called my mother to say how badly she has brought me up. I had no discipline, no decency.

I don't know Sue, there are so many more things I could say right here, but even thinking about all that makes me so bitter that I don't want to. But yes, you are a very fortunate woman because V does not suddenly become a son more than a husband when you bring up these things. Me, I have chosen not to talk to them about things like these at all. I have had enough of that hurt I think.

Sands said...

Lovely post. To me any relationship is a waork in progress just as long as both partners are willing to work on it :) There are always silly things in-laws do that irritate us, but what helps me the most is to forgive even though it is almost impossible for me to forget! After all they are to the OH what my parents are to me :)

Sue said...

Dipali -- Yes, indeed we have.

JLT -- That was a horrible thing to have done. I can understand why you can't forgive. :(

Ummon -- LOL I think the man's done cooking for the year but hell, I certainly appreciate that meal.

U -- These mens make up for a lot. But then I think, they better! :)

R's Mom -- Me too. I value this support like I cannot even begin to explain.

Itchy -- *hugs back*

T -- Thank god at least I married a Bangal who told his mother that he was off to get a daughter-in-law for her. Us Ghotis have the men say they are getting a servant, can you imagine the cheek?

Suchismita -- There comes a time, I think, when a man either takes a side or no longer needs to. Hopefully you guys will reach the latter stage soon. This bitterness hurts you far more than it hurts them.

Sands -- Yes, that is the logic I have always employed, still do. But then, my parents have never done to their son-in-law what my mother-in-law has seen fit to do to me.

This time I have decided that since Vicky has chosen to stand up for wife, I will continue to stay out of it. It's between him and his mother and best left that way. After all I've done, I no longer feel like I have to prove anything to his mother and I would much rather concentrate my efforts on keeping her son happy. A far more rewarding exercise than trying to please her!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

I don't even want to start...

But I love the stage you two are at now. May it just keep getting better!

Sue said...

M4 -- Me too. Touchwood. But then, as I start getting superstitious about it, I also think we worked hard to get here. Maybe it's only what we deserve?

Sunita said...

:) Hugs!!! Wow and that really means something. We are getting there slowly and steady.

sole said...

Happy for you Sue. I hope every couple manage to see this balance at some point in their life. I am glad you've reached there early enough and at least have a good 40 years ahead of you, so enjoy the rest :)!

Sue said...

Sunita -- *hugs back* Slow and steady is the only way to go.

Sole -- Oh, I'm sure there will be plenty of nasty, rocky patches in the years ahead. BTW Vicky will not thank you for giving him another 40 years. Last heard he was hoping for an early exit. (He claims Rahul and I have that effect on him!)

Shrabonti said...

I feel really lucky to have very nice in laws. They don't do horrible things to me, they are always very courteous and considerate, they are not the nosey, interfering types -- but they are too... detached. There have been occasions when R and I have really needed them, when we have gone through very tough times, and they have chosen not to come. To visit their daughter instead. Yes, those hurts stay.

It amazes me how my husband never complains, never shows signs of any hurt about this. I'm glad they are nice, because if they weren't, I think he might have found it tough to stand up for me. To this day, he is more loyal to them than to me and he admits it, and he thinks my sometimes short temper is to blame for them being aloof. I feel sad they have never tried to look beyond the temper, because then we could have had a real relationship.

Anu thati said...

brave you...
i always wonder why men cant react to their mother's bad doings, even after knowing its wrong. instead, they ask ask wife to compromise..
and ya, you can never forgive in-laws or parents for spoiling the wedding mood, its takes years to forget.. :(

suburbanmumma said...

Aww Sue, its a beautiful post!I m so glad you can talk about this without bitterness..I know,I still can't! hugs!

Sue said...

Shrabonti -- I have come to accept that you can't have a real relationship with people who don't want to go beyond the surface with you. It doesn't make it less saddening though.

Anu thati -- Men can and do react. Thankfully Vicky has never asked me to compromise ever since he did see the treatment I received. On the other hand, perhaps because he never asked I compromised that much more. LOL

Suburban Mumma -- The bitterness is no longer targeted at Vicky. I don't know when I stop blaming him for it but I'm glad I no longer do.