An Open Letter from a Mother to her Newly married Daughter. My dear Nimmoo, Iam happy that atlast Iam in a position to write to you.You rang me up and spoke with me so many times,but speaking on the phone is not like chatting in person or emailing, when you are absolutely free to share your thoughts with each other. My dear Nimmoo,a friend of mine asked me an interesting question a couple of days back.She asked me,”Saro,while we people vie with each other to advise the new bride on how she should conduct herself in her in law’s house.how she should be able to make adjustments and try and win the love and affection of her in laws,how she should be patience personified etc,don’t you think the mothers in law, both the bride’s mother and the bridegroom’s mother also need some guidance.Don’t you think that they should try and make their wards’ life happy ones,by giving them unconditional love?” Well ,Nimmoo!That was a vey valid question.My friend and I chatted some time and she went away,but the questions that she raised have remained with me.I want to share with you some of my thoughts on this subject. Nimmoo,your uncle ie my elder brother Sundhu got married and I was doing my final year in college at that time.My parents had already started scouting for a suitable boy for me.Well my sister in law ie Sundhu mama’s wife Meera entered our house as the new bride.We were happy and excited,particularly ,me because Meera and I were more or less of the same age group.We had a jolly good time chatting with each other,going out shopping together,eating together and I was more than happy to work in the kitchen with Meera by my side.But slowly I realised that my mother was slightly morose and she was not that friendly with her daughter in law.When Meera made a meal, all of us ,my father brother and I used to praise her.When my brother bought something new for her, I used to feel so happy,I used to compliment her a lot on her good looks many times.But I never heard my mother complimenting her even once. One day Meera cooked a delicious meal all by heself and the meal was really good.My father said,”Rukku(that was my mother’s name)see our DIL has cooked an excellent meal!We have to give her a present for this,what shall I get her?Tell me”This was said ny my father half in jest and half in a hearty manner.But by mother got angry. “What is so special about Meera cooking a meal?Our daughter Saro cooks much better than her.Infact Meera is very slow where as Saro is fast andshe leaves the kitchen clean after cooking.” Meera’s face lost its colour and my brother father and I sat in silence.I was ashamed I felt as if I did something wrong.But Meera was and is still a good natured person,so she simply let go of the comment. I found my mother making similar comments ,comparing me and Meera and making unsavoury comments about Meera all the time. My father reprimanded her many times for being rude to her DIL ,he trid to make her see reason and persuade her to be nice to Meera.But due to some reason, my mother never changed her stand,till I got married.My marriage took place,I went to in laws’ place.I came to visit my mother’s house after a couple of months.Well I was a happy bride,I was full of praise for my in laws and my mother who visited me in my in law’s house ,saw for herself,how kind my MIL was to me. Slowly there took place some changes in my mother.My brother rang me up and told me many times,how my mother was actually conversing with Meera with a smiling face,how she was praising Meera on her culinary skill.on her needle work so on and so forth.I hope you have understood by now,what exactly had taken place in my house before my marriage that prompted my mother to behave in a rude manner to her DIL.My mother was jealous.She could not bear to see another girl, eventhough that girl was her DIL hogging the limelight,while her daughter had to take a back seat.When my father or my brother praised Meera,she immediately came to the conclusion that they wee putting me down.Poor my mother, she was uneducated,her exposure to the outside wold was very limited,hence that reaction from her.Thank God, that I and Meera remained good friends and our friendship has grown from strength to strength.You know that very well You know that I keep in touch with her all the time. My mother understood and learnt slowly, though surely how to be a good ,kind MIL.Well,better late than never. Yesterday evening Bhavani aunty came to our house to see how I was progressing.She had brought with her, home made laddoos and kesari with the grand announcement that they wee made at home by her with pure ghee and so those are not detrimental to health at all.My eyes were glittering,Iam sure ,but your father took them from her ,telling her at the same time that his wife was not supposed to even look at a sweet,so she should take them bak with her or allow him to give them away to some school going childen who normally burn off their calories.Poor mami her face became small and so became mine as well. Bhavani mami had moved into the house opposite ours, when her son was a teenager.Her husband had passed away and she occupied her ancestral house that was our opposite house.Mother and son were devoted to each other.Bhavani petted and pampered her only son.She cooked for him,packed his lunch,she washed his clothes,selected his dresses ,she also decided which dress he had to wear to office every day.Whether it was attending a wedding or going for a movie,Bhavani accompanied her son.He could not move a finger without his mother’s approval.The entire neighbourhood ,including me,my dear,watched Bhavani mami and her attachment to her only son with disapproval. “What will Bhavani do when her son gets married and bring home his bride?”was the question that was in our mind.Well Bhavani mami’s son finished his course and got a reasonably good job.Mami started combing for a suitable bride for him.She requested her relatives,friends to help her out in selecting a bride for her son. Normally your father, who is a good Samaritan and enjoys selecting bride and groom for his friends’ families said,”No,I will not interfere in Bhavani mami’s case.She is fiercely possesive about her son and I wonder if any sensible girl would be able to put up with her abnormal ways.”said your father and kept aloof from this matter.God had other plans my dear.Bhavani mami’s son Krishnan got married and Geeta entered that house as the new bride.The entire neighbourhood people sharpened their ears,kept a vigil on Bhavani mami’s house.We thought that even the most patient girl in this world would not be able to put up with Bhavani’s petting and pampering of her son and her possesiveness over him.We thought that troubles would erupt soon and Geeta would take her husband with her and move out of Bhavani’s house or would pack her bags and leave for her maike soon.We waited and waited, but we saw that Bhavani mami went about her work with a smiling face as usual,infact her perpetual smile had only widened and she smiled more often and Geeta was calm and peaceful,she made friends with girls of her age gtroup nearby and was to be seen happily chatting away with them. “How is it that Geeta is putting up with Bhavani?” Very soon we got the answer.My dear Nimmonce her son got married and her DIL came home.Bhavani shifted her focus on her only DIL. Previously we used to hear her voice drifting in the air,calling out to her son,”Krishna,come I will serve you breakfast.Krishna,wear this white pant and white shirt to office today.Krishna,today is Saturday,come,let me give you head massage with oil,have oil bath.”Now we could hear her voice drfting in the air.But now she was calling out to Geeta. Now it was Geeta and not her son whom she was petting and pampering. “Geeta,did you have your breakfast?Come,let me serve you breakfast.Geeta,come I will plait your hair.Geeta,I bought these sarees for you when I went out with Saro mami today.If you don’t like the colour,we will exchange it,Ok?” Geeta became the centre of her attention,Geeta, her DIL became the darling of her world.Tell me which DIL would not simply worship such a MIL? Very often we would see Geeta with tears in her eyes,her MIL would have exchanged her old fashioned necklace for the latest chain that Geeta would have got as birthday present from her MIL. We heard Krishnan say with pride in his voice,”My mother does not even care for me now.I have become her SIL and Geeta has become her daughter.”Bhavani stopped accompanying her son everywhere.Instead we could see her coming up to the gate to say,”ta,ta”to them when her son and DIL went out, with a broad smile on her face. When we would tease her playfully about her attachment for Geeta,she would say,”Geeta has come to take care of my son.Who would take care of Geeta,Iam her mother now,I only have to take care of her no?”We really admired her spirit. Bhavani mami is loved by her DIL’s family.Mami went out of the way to build up good relations with them.No function,no marriage takes place in Geeta’s maika without Bhavani mami’s participation.Mami would be there ten days in advance when there was a wedding in Geeta’s maika and she would run around with them,in shopping,she would cook for them when all of them had to go out,no ego problems there for her.She has endeared herself to that family. Bhavani mami has become old.We don’t hear her sceeching voice drifting in the air,but the bonding between her,her son,DIL and her grandchildren has grown from strength to strength.She remains a rolemodel to other MILs in our neighbourhood.Now,let me not put my ‘nazar’ on her, my child,may the trbe of Bhavanis live long and flourish. Dear Nimmoo,do you remember Stella aunty,who is a practicing lawyer?Her son David got married a couple of months back.Your father attended the marriage,I could not due to obvious reasons.Prema ,Stella aunty’s DIL is a practising doctor,very goodlooking and very smart.Aunty brought her home to get my blessings. After some days,Stella aunty visited me.She said,”Saro,Iam scouting for a nice flat for my son and dil to live,to start their life together.Once I select a few flats,I would request you to come and select one for them,you should also give your input in furnishing the place.”Well I was flattered,no doubt,But I also wondered. I asked Stella ,”Stella,you are such a wonderful mother. .And if I know you well, you were lookinh forward to the arrival of a DIL into your home,why do you want to shift them to their own flat?Don’t you want to enjoy being with your DIL,guiding her in running the home?Both of you being professionals,don’t you think you will simply have a lovely time chatting with her and sharing your thoughts and views on any subject with her?” Stella aunty laughed.She said,”Saro,it is true that both I and my DIL are professionally qualified,both of us have great careers and we will be intellectually compatible with each other.But once the initial euphoria is over,small problems will definitely arise.Saro,my DIL is a fine girl,but Iam short tempered and I have set ideas about the running of the house.I would not like a table to be shifted and kept in another place.I need my space.This may create problems and our mental peace will definitely fly out of the window.Hence both I and my husband decided that we will persuade or son and daughter in law to set up their home.We will visit each other often,we will celebrate festivals together and we will continue to cherish our relationship.I and my husband will be on our own as long as we can,when we are too old to live on our own,we will shift in with either of our children”.I forgot to tell you,Stella aunty has a daughter who is married and settled. Nimmoo,I have nothing but admiration for Stella aunty.Iam sue that her relationship with her DIL will be very smooth and they will live together after sometime. My dear Nimmoo,this MIL &DIL issue is prevalent in all families,where the son gets married and the daughter in law enters the house.The MIL looks at her DIL as the woman who has entered her son’s life and who is going to drive away the mother from his heart.The DIL who does not understand her MIL’s fear, looks at her as the demon who has been created by God to traumatize her.The war ,sometimes loud and sometimes silent,disturbs their mental peace and that of the other family members,don’t forget the son who is tossed between his mother and his wife. There are MILS and DILS who understand the basic principles that make the foundation of a joint family,who with support from other family members ,who are sometimes guided by their native intelligence,try to tide over some rough patches in their relationship with either MIL or DIL and learn to live in amicable peace. There are MILs ,who because of their foolishness and their possesiveness are unable to treat their DILs with kindness.There are DILs who can not forget and forgive the insults heaped on them by the MIL and both the parties carry their grievances against each other to their graves.I feel sad for them. M mother belonged to the old school of thought,she thought it was her birth right to be rude to her DIL and that her DIL had to put up with that.But she realized her mistake in time and changed her attitude and in her old age her DIL doted on her. Bhavani mami was and is the smartest MIL I have seen.By shifting her affection and her focus on her DIL she won her DIL’S heart. Stella aunty who is aware of her strengths and weaknesses and who desires healthy elationship with her DIL,has made the right decision. But how many MILs use their heads in nurturing this relationship,the most debated and discussed relationship ie between the MIL and the DIL? Not many,I suppose. I will put the onus on the MIL ie the son’s mother, for the relationship between her and her DIL to flourish.She is the one who has to see to it that her DIL is comfortable and is at peace in her new home.She should not forget that if the family is like a ship,she is the captain at home and every one at home is under her care.If she has to get ready her daughter for marriage,if she has to train her in all departments of running a happy family,she should not forget that she has to train her son as well to be a caring,kind husband when he gets married. When does this training start?My dear child,I feel that training the son to be a caring,kind person capable of donning the mantle of a good husband starts pretty early,even when the son is a teenager atleast. The MIL definitely has to follow some dos and don’ts, if she desires to live in peace with her DIL for the rest of her life.What are they? My dear Nimmoo,Iam tired.I will get back to you in a couple of days,my dear.In the meanwhile,please let me know whether you liked what I have written to you.Think over all the aspects that I have mentioned and get back to me.Take your own time my dear,but do let me have your reply. Take care of yourself,take care of all at home. My regards to your parents in law and my blessings to all at home. Lots of love AMMA.