Just give our relationship a breather, Ma..

Ramya Vivek

Dear mother-in-law,

It’s that time of the year again, when I dread to let you know that I am going to visit my parents. It’s already that time of the year when I have to hear reasons like how mosquito bites at my mother’s place would hurt my kids and possibly cause dengue, how there would be lesser number of pillows for their comfort there, how there are relatively fewer cartoon channels in that house for your grandkids, how you had bought our favourite vegetables to cook, and how you are planning to make our favourite sweets this vacation. You will then wonder aloud how hot it would be there, if the AC is functioning well and if there is no power fluctuation in their place. The reasons and reasonings you and Papa come up with, year after every year, never fail to amuse me. For crying out loud,  I am taking them to my mother’s place where I grew up in, and not letting them wander in some wilderness. The indirect questions to your grandkids, and constant jibes morphed with a concerned smile directed towards me hurt me more, Ma, even now after eight years since we know each other. But, do we really know each other?

How I wish you understand that I am not looking for exclusive comfort, but for love when I plan a visit to my Maayka. I plan a visit because I know that there are another set of grandparents who look forward to these ten days they get to spend with their grandkids. And Ma, my parents would give up their life before they would see their kids and grandkids suffer. Just like you would.

I am not an illogical or irrational person, Ma. I think about your son’s work nature and onsite visits, I keep in mind my children’s exams, extracurricular classes, projects and assessments, your health and treatments, and then decide a visit once or twice a year. But still, when you keep such a long face when I announce the date of visit, it hurts Ma.

I know, it’s been years since you left your family here, to visit your mother’ place. After the demise of your parents, you would have found that single thread of bond connecting you to your Maayka missing, though you have brothers and sisters to call your own. You would know that end of existence of parents could only mean that somehow the existence of Maayka remains only in paper, not really in flesh and blood for a girl. Somehow that Dhaaga gets severed. Who would know this better than a wise woman like you? But Ma, wish you could extend that understanding when it comes to me too. Wish you could realize that few years down the line, just like how you don’t have one now, I would be deprived of having a Maayka too. If you really love me, don’t you think you should be the one pushing me to make as many visits to my mother’s place as possible?

Soon, my kids would grow up and want to spend their vacation time visiting Mussoorie and Ladaakh, and not their Maa Ka Ghar. Until then, don’t you think I deserve that happiness?

Love is blind and irrational, they say. Love is unconditional too, people believe. I neither want it to be blind or unconditional, Ma. I don’t expect some magical bond that this society has never heard of, to exist between us. But will it be wrong of me to expect a little empathy and compassion from you? I know you love me, Ma. But sometimes love could be suffocating, if it becomes too much to take, and I end up feeling trapped in my own house in the company of the people whom I call my own. Don’t love me too much that it feels like a task to even take a breath. When I wish. As I wish.

Just let our relationship breathe, Ma. You holding me tight, your innate desire to have us always with you, is only making things worse between us. I hope you understand this sooner.

Love and Regards,
Your daughter-in-law

***Inspired by true events – Written on behalf of my friend who shares this lovely yet diplomatic relationship with her mother-in-law ****

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