Monday, December 8, 2014

The Mother-in-Law: The Other Woman in your marriage

Every day, we read or hear horrific accounts of daughters-in-law being mentally or physically harassed. There are plenty of statistics on cases relating to bride burning, dowry harassment and domestic violence in Indian homes. As long as it does not happen to us, we don't give it any serious attention.

But this book will make you SIT UP and PAY ATTENTION.

Narrated factually and with a dash of wit, Veena Venugopal explores the lives of eleven Indian women and tells us shocking truths about their mothers-in-law. Each story has a lesson for every woman.

There is a mother-in-law who justifies her alcoholic son beating and raping the daughter-in-law, another mother-in-law who delights in taking her daughter-in-law for her check-ups because the latter is suffering from cancer and after each hospital visit, the mother-in-law uses it against her! The premise of this bold book is this: Your mother-in-law is NOT YOUR FRIEND.

                                        [Veena Venugopal, author of The Mother-in-law]

Why Mother-in-Law is "the Other Woman" 

This is from Veena Venugopal’s book and in her own words:
  • There is no fashion police stricter than the Indian mother-in-law.  All ‘Mummyjis’ assume they are in charge of their daughter-in-laws wardrobe.
  • Some rules by Indian mothers-in-law: Must wear mangal-sutra, blouses must have sleeves, salwar kameez must have dupatta, etc.
  • If appearance is the biggest area of conflict between the modern day Mummyji and her daughter-in-law, the second is work. In India, about 50% of women employees are reported to quit their jobs before they get into middle management jobs. Know why? Because of Mummyji!
  •  The problem begins early – and that’s the clincher. When the rules are first laid down, the daughter-in-law agrees to almost everything. That sets the foundation for the rest of her life.   

When I first began reading the book, my immediate thought was, How can this be true? How can one woman be so cruel to another woman who is part of her family?
                                                                                                          
In India, some things will never change. These are:

1.    By nature, women are territorial and sons are definitely their marked territory. How many times or how often do you hear of a father-in-law ill-treating the daughter-in-law or a brother-in-law ill-treating the sister-in-law?
2.     Women have pre-determined expectations about what their son’s wives should look like, speak and behave like. They also pre-determine how much their son’s wives should weigh!
3.    Through all the real life stories featured in this book, one thread is common and the author highlights it: the married sons, over whom the whole battle of the women is centred on, plays either neutral or pretends to be ignorant. And if push comes to shove, they stand with their mothers.

DON'T MISS: Being Single in India: Why so much fuss and prejudice? 

There are so many happy families where the mothers-in-law treat their daughters-in-law with  love. 

Wouldn't it be nice and inspiring to document some of those happy stories too? The book could have concluded on a positive note.

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