‘My father had told me not to do this’, said the old woman in a rather harsh tone to her young daughter-in-law, ‘that I should never lift my grand children. So, sorry I can’t hold that child while you are cooking for us!’
The young girl looked at the old woman in rising disgust. Was this an excuse or is this being cooked up fresh? There is no way for her to know.
Every time the young girl sought help to hold something, to get something, to pay for something, the other woman made it categorically clear that she was not supposed to do it as her long dead father who was a former collector had clearly advised her not to do.
While the older woman had no restrictions what so ever on receiving any thing, she was very clear on what not to do for others, be it her own daughters-in-law or her sons or her grand children.
In fact, the old lady would never ever call up her children on her own. ‘It is their duty to call and inquire after me, why should I call them,spending my money?’
What added to the girl’s discomfort was that her so-called husband was also a chip of the old block. Could you drop me at the office?,she asked one day. No, I cannot, he said clear with no room for ambiguity. Could you get the medicine for the child?, no I cannot, you please go and get it.
This was how their married life started and it continued. But things it a rough patch when the gentleman decided to quit work and stay at home and when the mother and son expected the ‘bahu’ to run the house, earn the income, pay the fees, pay the rent, buy the monthly ration, deal with the irritating maid, fetch the vegetables and what not!
The sense of complete entitlement was such that the woman, the ‘bahu’ would run helter skelter trying to meet the ends, appease the lords at home and maintain the equilibrium of ‘I come from a happy family’ to the onlookers, the relatives, the parents and everybody else.
Not one used to such machinations, such manipulations, she took time to figure out what was happening to her, coz she was doing her ‘duties’ in good will, ‘all for the family’ and then it froze her heart when she realized that she was being used as the maid, the breadwinner and the comforter and the care-taker all rolled into one!
Imagine the shock that she was in!
This hurt will perhaps never heal, she told herself, but life is not just these stupid, selfish manipulators, the world is a kind place and there are greater beauties in life,so she turned to them, in her effort to remain sane and happy, so she did find joy and content outside home at work, among friends and most importantly in herself.
The journey was worth it. Some lessons are learnt the hard way.