Of familiarization in marriage
What happens when you enter your new homeNiharika Deep
So, I have been in this funny institution called marriage, for quite a while now and things are really different nowadays for me. If you remember, my last article was about the whole bride selection process. This one is about what happens next, immediately, after the grand wedding. To start with, talks, discussions and even jokes, around me, changed. As a person who believes in being asked, things as they are and who does not like to decode the speaker’s sentences on the basis of their pronunciation, enunciation, elaboration or facial expression, I was surprised how people around me started sharing the “quality of jokes” with me. When I was a happy single, my friends use to ask me about my future plans, as in, my career plans. When I got married, they again asked me about my future plans, only this time it meant a family plan. Frankly, I had just started to match strange new faces with stranger new names at my matrimonial home; the increasing discussion of life ahead was putting me under a lot of pressure. I mean, I just graduated from being a Masi to Chachi, Didi to Bhabhi and Beti to Bahu, the question of me “post graduating” from a wife to Mother was like getting a Driver’s License today and driving a war tank tomorrow. So if anyone would come and ask me about “the baby” I would panic and think “Baby? What Baby? I just came, like today!!”
As a young bride, I was showered with blessings from the older generation, “dudho nahao, puto phalo”, for my non Hindi speaking friends, that means, “bathe in milk, make babies”… and I do not mean literally, because, obviously we cannot make babies out of milk. On the first day, the whole house was bustling with cheerful people laughing at every sentence anyone would say and rounds of tea and coffee were so frequent that a person like me, who is used to budgeting and financial control, would see the whole financial planning system going down in kitchen sink, in the name of a big fat Indian wedding. Yet again, I was all dressed up for the occasion, in a heavy embroider saree and sparkling jewelry, costing something similar to an I-Phone, but then I looked down at my wedding dress and got nostalgic. No, I was not missing my family, I knew they were happy letting me go. I realized that we girls spent a good Mutual Fund investment amount on buying a dress with a terrain which wipes the whole snack dropped red carpet while we walk down the aisle and then later on, forget it. But then this realization was soon forgotten, when some respectful lady would walk into my room, exclaiming “Oh my god! Such a beautiful bride.. the groom is so lucky!”. Trust me, nothing makes a girl’s day, more enjoyable and profitable, than hearing about her beauty all day along. Knowing that all the dieting, exercising, parlor visits and spending thousands of rupees on a few dresses, to make you look perfect for just a few days, has paid off, is a big relief.
The aunties around me shared strange jokes with me, which by the time I was decoding, another round of “marital bliss” joke was fired. I was excited and enjoying the presence of so many human around, feeling accepted by them. My friends had directed me to keep my ability to question people, under control, for at least a few months, till the reigns of the house are snatched from the ruling house queen and dropped in my hands, so even though, I was utterly bored and occasionally shocked with the over enthusiasm around me, I mingled in the environment by camouflaging a smile and a blush.
But, all this while, I was realizing the pressure that we young girls have on our shoulders when we get married. All of sudden, apart from your own life, your own career, your own family, you are now responsible for so many other things that you are entrusted to do and that too, with immediate effect. Your caring mother in law becomes your trainer for how to handle the house chores, cook food, keep clothes, greet relatives etc. and while learning all this, you realize that why didn’t someone teach me all this in my 4 yrs. of engineering class or 8 years of medical research. So all this while when I was folding washed clothes back in my pre-married days, I was doing it the wrong way?! But here I must advice that not all these trainings go in vain. Remember, the final examiner, is your husband and you are well aware of his comparison standards. If you want to make any friends at your new home, be attentive and learn and when the right time comes, improvise. In the past few months, this was the advice that I received from my personal trainer, my mommy in law. A similar drill must have happened with many of you, the intensity might differ, but the activities are the same. During all this, we girls constantly think about how we can perfect everything. The joy of getting married and starting a new life seems enough of fuel to keep our energy up.
As an educated woman, I have always respected my elders and followed the rules of society as I believe that any society which conforms to its value system, as long as it could, maintains its originality and thus binds itself together. The backbone of any religion or community is the set of rules and beliefs it conforms to and identifies itself with. So for us as the next generation, which has the responsibility of taking these values and tradition forward, it is very important to understand and acknowledge the guidelines our elders give. Often confusion starts when there is a resistance from either generation to accept the other one’s approach to certain things. If this confusion is not dealt with, early and in a tactful manner, chances of tension will rise. This tension is so quick to spread in the family that it starts affecting relationships.
The whole family familiarization process should not be a burden for anyone. There should be an open and a welcoming approach for ideas from both the generations that are involved. The marriage has happened, the girl is here to stay, so this process should not be rushed for her. Everybody says that marriage is all about adjustments, but nobody defines the time it takes to adjust. This is because all of us are different and all of us take different time to adapt to new things. And since we also have our own minds, it is but obvious that queries will arise. The best way to answer these queries is to.. well.. just answer them. I had the privilege of eavesdropping the auntie chats during my first day at matrimonial place, of which I had talked in the beginning of this article and I was shocked to know how people analyzed the questions that a new bride like me tends to ask when she gets confused with the customs of her sasural. Now I understood why my friends had told me to keep my inquisitiveness under control. Similarly, while updating the near and dear ones of my age group, friends or otherwise, and even the stories I heard from my senior females, I noticed the irritation and approach they had developed when they were in my position. Isn’t this approach, of both sides, wrong? Why to judge any one? Why to pretend for some time? Why can’t there be an openness about things or discussions which are important for our society to grow, keeping our values in mind?
Here I would state that experiences might differ from person to person. If you had an excellent experience during the immediate start of the familiarization process, you would know how to impart the same to your future daughter in law. If you had a not so good and uneasy experience, then I believe that you would understand the thoughts of your future daughter in law and not let her go through any uncomfortable situation. Apart from the responsibility to carry on our old traditions and customs, it is also our responsibility to do away with the evils that have grown in our society, in the name of implementing these traditions. There is always a story behind these evils, but it is time to change them.