I need some motivation. I really do. I’ve been experiencing the computer phobia syndrome for quite some time now. May be it was the over drive during the National seminar that put me off. I plan to write something but end up playing spider solitaire or free cell. Would you believe that I haven’t yet submitted my full paper for the proceedings that has to be published following the successful completion of the seminar? My topic was “Saving the Ecosystem: A Value based Analysis”. I think I need to really buck up and become chummy with my computer. With the children away and interaction with grand children restricted to weekly phone calls I need to be grateful to the technological wonder that keeps me occupied. I cannot afford to ignore it. So Namaste Computerji ! Shat, shat pranam apko.
And I get going. Wish me luck to be able to complete what I wish to say.
Long back I had promised to share information about how my maternal aunt bonded with her mother in law. I plan to do just that. I have written about her in this post which has a reference to an earlier post written in 3 parts. My aunt had no children of her own but she was a mother to all of us nieces and nephews from her own side as well as her husband’s. Thanks to her we share a very close relationship with her nieces and nephews by marriage and consider them as very much a part of our family and they too reciprocate in a similar manner.
My aunt was 13 years old when she got married. It was therefore appropriate that she was instructed on culinary skills by her mother in law who loved her like a daughter. She must have been well past 40 when I happened to spend a fortnight with her after answering my 11th boards. I then saw for myself the wonderful relationship they shared. By then ‘Amma’ as her MIL was fondly called by the family was quite ill and practically bed ridden. She had to be helped to sit up on her bed and escorted to the hall or kitchen and seated in a comfortable sofa or easy chair when she felt inclined to. My aunt would give her a hot water bath, scrub her back, comb her hair and massage her feet and what not. It was heart warming to listen to their conversation.
“Amma, I plan to make sambhar and cauliflower sabzi for lunch” my aunt would say. “Do you think I should pressure cook 1 cup of dal for sambhar or should I make it 1 and a half?”
Amma would pretend to get annoyed.
“You’ve been married for thirty five years” she would say. “Do I have to tell you? Can’t you decide for yourself?”
“You found the sambhar spicy yesterday. That’s why I asked”.
“”Then restrict the amount of chilies. Why make extra sambhar and waste it?”
“Mr. K………. has come. Should I prepare tea or coffee?
”The servant wants a day off tomorrow. Is it okay to grant her leave or should I ask her to come in the morning and take the afternoon off”?
Listening to them one would think that the DIL was a novice and needed to be given directions even for managing day to day affairs. But I knew better. It was my aunt’s way of acknowledging that Amma was still very much in charge. When I hear of young girls claiming that the house was theirs and their MIL had no say in running the house I always remember my aunt who had no problem taking instructions even at the age of 48.
My uncle had the habit of maintaining an account book in which he recorded his day to day expenses. He had a college going nephew staying with him to whom he granted a pocket allowance of 10 rupees per month apart from the amount required for bus pass. In 1965 Rs. 10/- was quite enough provided the boy did not watch movies with friends or ate at the famous Mavilli tiffin rooms. He would coax amma and my aunt to giving him a little extra spending money. My aunt would give him the money but would not be able to account for it at the end of the day. Their conversation would be something like this-
Uncle: You bought coriander for 50 paise. What else?
Aunt: Mmmmmmm, let me think.
Uncle: Did you buy any other vegetables from the push cart vendor? How many times do I have to tell you that these fellows charge extra money? You could have told me to get vegetables from the local market.
Aunt: (unable to lie nor able to tell him the truth) mmmmmmm…..
Uncle: Did you buy charcoal for the boiler?
Aunt: No, I bought it yesterday.
Uncle: Then? What else? I am not able to account for 5 rupees.
Amma would be fretting from an inner room mumbling to herself.
‘Can’t she say something and be done with it? When will she learn to deal with him?’
“Why do you trouble her son?” She would call out unable to bear the torture her DIL was being subjected to. “You know that she does not spend a penny without consulting me. You cannot expect her to remember where each and every rupee went.”
That would silence my uncle. Further questioning would imply that his mother’s discretion was being doubted.
I cannot quite recall another MIL/DIL duo who treated each other with such genuine and unconditional affection.