Young girls aspiring to marry a TDH guy of your choice are advised to stay away from this post. You may read it at the risk of being subjected to some leg pulling exercise from me so be warned. No malice intended. Just some harmless fun at your expense.
There was a time some 30 years back when the boys family decided on the qualities possessed by their would be daughter in law. My mother in law expected me to be able to cook for 50 people if the situation so demanded. "Ellunna ennaiya nikkanum". This roughly translates as " One should be ready with sesame oil when the word sesame is uttered." I did not fit the bill and she had to manage with a DIL who could barely manage to cook for 5 persons. Forget the stipulated 50. But we got on pretty well. She'd teach me to stand up for my rights as a woman so what if it was my husband who was acting difficult. As for my father in law - the poor man could not even say that there was less salt in rasam or something as simple as that. My mother in law would take up for me like a mother hen and ask him to get used to eating less salt. "It is good for your health" she'd announce. Those were days that I always cherish.
Fast forward by 36 years. I hear that it is the girls who set conditions for marriage to a guy. Like some girl who said that she wanted her MIL to be able to speak good English and I've started worrying. 'Will my english be good enough for my DIL?' I wonder. Don't go by what I write. Years and years of life spent in Bihar/Jharkhand and that too in a town like Jamshedpur I cannot speak a complete sentence in any one language. Being close to Kolkata our Hindi is Bengali mixed and unique to our town. Tamil being my mother tongue I tend to add a few words of Tamil when I speak to my children. So it is Hinglish/Benglish/Taminglish all in one. Like when my daughter calls I may say something like
"Sollumma, kaisi ho? yeh week end me kya ki? Teri mamiyar kaisey manage kar rahi hai?"
This means " Tell me, how do you do? What did you do this week end? How is your mother in law managing?"
The ease with which I blend the three languages would baffle any DIL who did not know all of them and if she expected me to speak any one language I'd have a lot of unlearning to do. I think I should start practising. Who knows which language she'd want me to talk to her. Let me at least be fluent in the three that I claim to know.
My DIL may herself be a Hinglish speaking girl or even otherwise she may not be a talkative person so the language issue may get automatically resolved. I may only have to say 'yes', 'No' and okay. But she may have other conditions. What if she is a towering personality and my less than 5 feet of height puts her off? I don't blame her. If wants to see my face I'd have to lift it up or else she'd only see the top of my head. Constantly lifting up my head would aggravate my spondilytis and my shoulders would take turns to freeze. I'd trouble her to open doors and pick out stuff from shelves and the poor girl would also have to close doors and put back stuff. You see, even with the best intentions I can be a pain and it is only my husband who can pamper me 'cos he has no other option.
I am crazy about my cross word and sudoku. I read the head lines and check out university news and get started with my crossword. Not the cryptic one - just the quick one. I know of a 90 year old greatgrandpa who'd fight with his 70 year old son for the days newspaper. They'd buy 'The Hindu', Deccan Chronicle as well as Economic Times all in duplicate. Both would want all three papers for themselves. A fold here or a crease there would not be tolerated. It was the grandson who solved the problem by ordering two sets of all three newpapers. So, should my DIL want a crisp new newspaper to read I think I'll do the same. One set for her and another for me. As of now my husband waits for me to be done with my crossword before he even casts an eye or lays a hand on it. No, don't start imagining that he's an absolute angel. He is not. This is one area in which he is not in competition with me.
When I am pensive I tend to put a hand on my hip. My daughter keeps pulling it off. She says it makes me look formidable. I'd often wonder why I shouldn't look formidable? But now I feel that my DIL like my daughter would also object to a MIL with hands on her hips. She may prefer one with fingers on the lips. I think I'll try to get rid of the habit.
So you see our generation of mothers and mothers in law are rather accomodative. One has to just specify and we'd adapt. I invite my readers to let me know if there are any more specifications to qualify for the degree of a MIL.