The Story Of A Modern Day MIL & Her Relationship With Her DIL

Last updated 7 Mar 2019 . 1 min read

I was coming back to Kolkata in Mumbai-Howrah Duronto express. Much against the meaning of its name, the train was unapologetically seven hours late. Meanwhile, I got acquainted with this lady who made my journey worth the ride.

Our conversation started when another woman rolled her eyes and said,"I won't send my son to a foreign land for a job or for life. I am afraid of the shameless women there.”

I was starting to get irritated. But Suhag aunty smiled with a confidence that could crush any ill comment meant to put women down.

Her first comment was,

“My son lives in Australia for the last six years but holds on to his Indian values.”

I feared to hear all good things about his character virtually smashing the unknown 'short-dressed' girls of the west. I turned back lying on my berth and tried to get a good sleep, deaf-eared to the conversation that would follow.


“He never comes home drunk to his wife.”

Wow! A wrong conception of the words 'Indian values' has no place in this lady's mind. She knows what she means by 'values'. I turned towards them. I was getting interested in what the lady was going to say further. I could never forget what I learnt from her.


“My son was born and brought up in Gujarat. He went to Australia for a job, fell in love and married Laura. My daughter-in-law is an Australian girl.”

I can't explain the honesty and pride in her voice. Most proud moms of sons abroad would have probably doted on the fact that their son abroad has married an Indian girl.

I have heard this more than twenty times in my twenty-five years of life. By some unknown logic, most of us believe that Indian men with ‘good’ character stay away from non-Indian girls. If by any chance the son does fall in love with a girl abroad, that would mean he was ‘trapped’ by the girl, you know, “Fasa diya mere bete ko.


"Her family means we as a whole, not just her parents. My DIL is a sweetheart.”


And I found this MIL to be a sweetheart. I don’t remember the last time when I heard a mother say this. Those kind words meant a lot. They silently expressed a lot about the woman too.

It is another wrong conception about women abroad that they don’t care for their family. Only Indian girls value their roots. No, it depends on the individual, not on the country or sex.

"My daughter-in-law Laura is beautiful. I was amazed to see her basic values at first. People say foreign girls hardly care about their parent's opinions. But Laura brings her family and ours on every occasion. She gives importance to family get-togethers. Family means we as a whole, not just her parents. We think wrong about these girls.”


It was so very true. We think wrong. We ourselves make the life of women difficult by making rules inside our head. Wish all mothers-in-law, who feel terribly ashamed of their son's choice, would hear the lady out.


"When they come to India my son speaks only in Tamil. But I insist on speaking in English. Laura gets cornered, you know. She can't take part in the conversations. Poor girl looks curiously and tries to smile at bursts of laughter at Tamil jokes. I realized her plight and cornered my son instead. That was needed to teach my son what the girl felt!"


A small yet large step. Most daughters-in-law know this feeling of being left out. As if it was not her family, not her connections. They always try their best to fit into a new unwelcoming system. Nothing much, but just a silent warm welcome from a mother-in-law can put them at ease. An assurance that another woman is there to help you, who knows exactly how this feels, is more than enough.


Heaven makes mothers. The world would have turned into a heaven if every mother taught her son to recognise his wife's emotions instead of asking him whether his poor old mother was important or the newly wedded wife. As a woman, I feel ashamed of writing such things. But sadly it's true in our society


"My cute grandson, golden hair and blue eyes. Wish I could keep him with us forever! His name is Leo. Before finalizing the name, Laura had actually called me up. She had asked concernedly, "Mum, I know Indian grandparents decide on the baby's name. Will you get hurt if we name him Leo?" To which I had said, "Not at all. I love Leonardo Dicaprio from the day your father-in-law took me to watch Titanic for the first day first show here in India!"

Suhag aunty laughed heartily at her sweet memories. I could imagine her DIL's reaction. In most of the cases, naming a child is something a DIL doesn’t like being done by her husband’s mother. I loved the way these women solved the problem. Asking permission with love, settled things so easily. Of course, co-operation was needed from both. Love and compassion were needed equally.


Every day we come across problems surrounding this relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. We, our sisters, our friends, our mothers and our grandmothers - we all know that in most of our lives this one particular relationship never becomes transparent from the heart. But why? Can’t we change this age-old scenario now?


Is it too hard to be empathetic towards our MILs and DILs? Let's initiate the end of a long misconception about the rights and wrongs of this relationship.


Both are women who are bound to understand each other. And for a different community or country, let us get inspired by our Gujarati MIL Suhag and her Australian bahu Laura. Kudos to both. Three cheers to womanhood and to motherhood. Be it in our country under the same roof or seven seas and oceans apart, we can always get our souls connected. Empathy and love is all we need.


What are your thoughts on this article? Do you have a story like this to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.


Shiny Hoque
She has been a book worm since childhood. She loves to travel and write stories of people from different cultures and lifestyles.

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