The Mother’s Day is celebrated the world over with great fanfare. Don’t ask me how it is celebrated. The websites are full of them announcing special greeting cards, gift articles, flowers and what have you. So when we were discussing this at a Club meeting, a member ventured to suggest that we must have a Mothers’-in-law Day too. The preposterous suggestion was greeted by a stunned silence followed by a spontaneous gnashing of teeth the noise of which made the glasses rattle. As the gnashing ceased and the mastication of the short-eats resumed, I conceded that there was something in the suggestion though I could not put my finger on the exact thing. Why not, I asked, defending the suggestion. It is alright for you to gnash your teeth, I chided them, but can any one of you give me two good reasons for gnashing your teeth? Of course, they could not. That’s the crux of the matter. This mother-in-law baiting is as old as the human race. There are more jokes written about them than any other subject in every language of the world including Pushtu. They form the core character of any number of stories. Take our soaps for example. Most of the stories are based on haughty mothers-in-law and their suffering daughters-in-law and sons-in-law. There is a difference though. If the story line is centered on the mother-in-law and her suffering son-in-law, the narrative takes on a humorous hue and the taming of the mother-in-law takes place through a series of funny episodes which keep you grinning ear to ear all the time. But when it involves a hapless daughter-in-law, the film will be almost like one of those Spielberg epics that depict stark scenes of the persecution of Jews in minute details. The poor daughter-in-law has to cry buckets and go through heart wrenching situations till almost the last reel before the tyrant repents and accepts her. In all these cases, have you noticed one significant factor? The father-in-law is always a non-entity. He usually belongs to the opposition but does not want to profess so openly. In the midst of sinister episodes, he remains hidden behind The Hindu making every one wonder what exactly is his role in the entire drama. He has a good word for his daughter-in-law when his wife is not around. He wears perpetually that caged- rat look. If you ask me, he is the one who ought to be figuring in all the jokes. The irony of it all is that the entire servant folk of the house, though paid by the husband, remain on the side of the lady in command. My plea for a Mother’s-in-law Day fell on deaf ears. The seniormost member, having heard our arguments, wound it up in King Solomon’s style conceding that both had valid arguments but since these ladies were also covered by Mother’s Day, there was no need for a second celebration for them. We all agreed in awe and reverence.