Friday, January 29, 2010

A victim Of Repetitive disorder - that's me!!

Those of you who feel that I tend to be repetitive remember that I AM AGEING!!

I keep worrying about the kind of mother in law I’d make. Oh, yes I am already mother in law to two fine young men but mother in lawing a daughter in law would be different or so I am led to believe. Long back my mother’s friend told her in my presence that it was easy to deal with a son in law. The retired husband could be at his service, talk about politics and other such stuff while all one needed to do was to supply regular doses of coffee speak of a few sentences from behind the curtain and depute the daughter to take care of things. She of course talks of the 1960’s scenario. Things have changed now to the extent that we MILs do not address the sons in law from behind curtains and doors but we still cannot take things for granted the way one can with a daughter in law.

‘Really??’ I can almost hear my daughter number one ask. ‘High hopes mummy!’

I suppose the ‘Tu, tu, main, main’ of Sachin’s brilliant tele - serial is meant to be laughed off and forgotten. I loved the serial and adored the MIL – DIL duo. I truly wish to have a DIL like her to make life spicy. I promise to add more spice to it. Okay, okay I’ll try to do my best. So here are some of my specifications-

My daughter in law should be a third daughter to me. She has my permission to gang up with my daughters to pull my legs and tease me to death if she wants to. I wouldn’t be able to deal with too much politeness and formality. I am just not used to it.

She can feel free to cook any kind of exotic dishes as long as they are vegetarian. I am game to all forms of trial and error being tried out in my kitchen. My own mother in law was an excellent house - keeper and cook. I learnt a lot from her and now I plan to learn more from my daughter in law too. So dear unknown daughter in law - simply go ahead you have my support!

I’d love it if my DIL loved books. We could have lively discussions on the plot and characters. And hopefully she’d be sensitive to social issues. I have a group of friends who are just that.

I would feel very uncomfortable if I got a decked up doll for a daughter in law. The kind that keep worrying about make up and matching accessories. She’d be equally disappointed with my casual dress sense. We may end up complaining to our respective husbands who would not know how to deal with the situation and support the wrong person. I can bet on the fact that my husband would do just that and it is quite possible that my son would take after him. It was a mutual agreement with my own MIL that we’d pull out each other’s hair if need be, but never involve our husbands.

But wait; are not these liberties the priority of a daughter? So I suppose that I am actually looking out for a daughter in my daughter in law and hope that she tries to see her mother in me.

Okay that was meant to be funny. A look around me tells a different tale. I see quite a few daughters in law who has become part of the family they married into and the affection they shower on their parents in law is often extended to me. Not all of them are part of a joint family but I can see that a bond has been struck and the comfort level in the relationship is good. Money, or the lack of it, hardly seems to matter. In fact I have often seen that a certain amount of interdependence actually helps people bond.

There are other families where the daughter in law has been married for 30 years but is yet to consider her mother in law an important member of the family. A lady I know is financially sound and in reasonably good health. She is well read and at the age of 80 she passes her time reading the day’s newspaper and solving cross - word puzzles. She is mild mannered and cannot harm a fly let alone other fellow human beings. Her only fault is perhaps the fact that she is far too self respecting and insists on paying a fixed amount every month for her upkeep. She feels that since she is in a position to pay she would not want to burden her children. Is it any wonder that she is treated like a tenant in their homes? Not wanting to burden the children is fine but I do feel that one does not have to carry it too far. One can always camouflage the amount as a gift on a special occasion or a surprise holiday package for the son and his family or some such thing. My own parent in law had exhausted their financial resources even before I entered the scene. But it was clear from day one that they headed the family and we were expected to take over. Even before I realized it I became one among them and once I started working my father in law’s presence in the house was actually a boon. He took care of practically everything including the children’s homework and the launderer’s account. A certain amount of interdependence as well as the will to bond is perhaps required for any relationship to thrive.

There can however be no generalization in the matter. Each case is different and every equation is unique and it is only the persons concerned that have work on whatever is best for them. There is no magic formula that can be safely applied to all

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Welcome Year 2010!

A very happy year 2010 to all of you.

I’ve taken a long time to post anything mainly because my daughter and children were here and I was having fun time with them. They however left on the 15th and my much neglected health started clamoring for attention. A bad cold needs to be pampered and not ignored. I did just that and it simply wouldn’t go. Not that it has gone now but having taken notice of it and treated it with respect it is now subdued and has agreed to lie low and leave in good time.

Winter has been severe after a long time. We had almost forgotten that Jamshedpur could be this cold but right when global warming was being discussed at international levels the northern part of India was being treated to an intense cold spell. We thought that it would get warm after Pongal but it didn’t. May be a few weeks more and we’ll be complaining of excess heat!

Cold weather is fine if one had someone to make hot tea and bring it to your bedroom and you could cuddle up in your bed with a novel in hand, soft music playing, and munching fry – ums/peanuts. Here, the husband has to be attended to as if he were a schoolboy, so what if he makes coffee in the morning!

I sometimes wish he wouldn’t make my coffee. Honestly. He makes it at 5:15 in the morning and starts waking me up saying that it would turn cold and wouldn’t taste as good if re – heated. Now I have to decide whether to wake up in the cold weather just to drink coffee or re – heat it later and be happy to drink sub standard coffee. To add to my misery my coffee maker can talk and keeps commenting on the quality of his preparation and most of the time I get up, but heat up my coffee that by now has become lukewarm.

My daughter asks me why I cannot insist on making my own coffee later. I too wonder why I don’t. I have no reason but perhaps deep down in my heart I prefer to have coffee prepared by him. Division of labor, I suppose. Like folding bed linen was my job till I stated working. Since I had to leave early for work he took over and now it has become his job. When he is out of town and I have to fold the single bed sheet used by me and put away my pillow, I find myself wishing that he’d return fast!

Yesterday was Basant Panchami and in our parts of India we celebrate Saraswati Puja on this day. I am always in admiration of the Goddess Saraswati who represents knowledge and learning. In contrast to the image of Durga who promises divine justice Saraswati seems to tell us that an intelligent mind can tackle adverse situation and justice would automatically follow. And justice may not always mean retribution. Somehow the principle of ‘an eye for eye and tooth for tooth’ seems wrong. The actual and long lasting justice would be to create a change in the minds of people. Correct me if I am wrong.

Let us therefore make a wish at the onset of a New Year.

Let us wish that we have the courage to say NO to practices like greasing palms and giving dowry just to find the easy way out. It is not easy to go against the tide. But 5 years back we, in our college, did just that. We were to benefit by a higher scale and the notice had reached our office. Those belonging to our group from other college paid the concerned dealing assistant in the university Rs. 500/- each to get it implemented. We resisted. The clerk would send extra money but ‘forget’ to mention how it may be utilized in the covering letter. In the following month the college would be directed to pay us the difference but money would be short. This went on for a year when a particularly strict IAS officer took over acting VC of the university. Unable to explain why a particular group from a specific college was being denied the scale the clerk quietly released the money out of fear of action against him. So a tough helmsman can make a difference is what we learnt. We again hear that the 6th pay recommendations would be implemented only if a certain amount is coughed up. Many in my college want to pay up. But I insist that we wait till the budget is presented to see how the university is going to explain why we are being denied the benefit. Patience is required and by god’s grace I have plenty of it. And the fact my colleagues pay heed to my words is comforting. I do hope I continue to be loved and regarded in the same manner till retirement.

A very happy year 2010 to all of you and do continue to pamper me because I am soon entering my 60th year and may soon go through the second childhood phase!