Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law
by Vimala Ramu
Recently one of my friends sent me a joke which ran like this:
A group of young women decided to arrange for a camp with their mothers-in-law to hopefully get to know and understand each other better since relations between them were very sour.
Two buses were hired, one for the mothers-in-law and the other for the daughters-in-law. Unfortunately the bus the mothers-in-law were traveling in was involved in an accident and all the passengers died on the spot.
The daughters- in- law (women being women) shed a few tears but they were all puzzled by one woman who wailed uncontrollably for what they perceived to be her great personal loss. Her friend asked her, "Forgive me for asking, but why are you crying so hard? I didn't realize you were so close to your mother-in-law?" to which she replied, "No we are not close at all, she missed the bus!"
Why is it that the mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law are shown as two different species? While the former are painted as ogresses, the latter are always portrayed as victims of their harassment. Don’t they realize that the daughters- in- law of today would be the mothers- in -law of tomorrow? Likewise, the moms-in-law of today had been the daughters-in-law in the near past. In fact, the meekest daughter-in-law of today may be the most aggressive mom-in-law when it is a question of her own son and the vice versa could also be true. Or the m-i-l who looks Ok to one d-i-l may look odious to the other. So, I feel, the m-i-l s and d-i-l s are not two different species, but two sides of the same coin. Moreover, due to the present longevity patterns and earlier breeding patterns, women can be a mother-in law to a young lady while being a daughter-in law to an older one.
Well, talking about the relationships, I was fortunate to have a very sweet and understanding mom-in-law. An acquaintance of mine has a d-i-l who just worships her m-i-l and wears her love on her sleeve. One day she came and asked me, “Look, I don’t like the m-i-l s always maligned. It is as if just being in the position of a m-i-l invests her with all bad qualities. There are good m-i-l s too who have a good relationship with their d-i-l s like mine. Why don’t you start a column in the newspaper where in d-i-l s who are fine with their m-i-ls can write about them. You can edit and publish them”.
Hmmm…, quite a revolutionary idea. But where is the guarantee that the column would run for more than 2-3 weeks? Moreover the ‘praised’ m-i-l s might start flaunting their status, like the celebrities of Mumbai who flaunt their Income Tax raids. The ‘un applauded’ ones might start nagging their d-i-l to write about them too, aggravating an already dire scenario at home.
After going through all this introspection, I decided to leave the m-i-l s and d-i-ls where they belonged, that is at the two poles of the World.