Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Differing perceptions

I have a distant relative of mine by name Paru mami living with her only son. Her husband had not left her in good financial circumstances. Past eighty, she is fairly in good health and takes care of her personal chores without help. With her reduced vision restored after minor surgery, she spends lot of time listening to music, reading dailies and magazines and watching TV serials. She is unaware of her slightly impaired hearing and the volume of her TV is heard in the neighborhood. Not given to any religious or spiritual pursuits, she does not bother about the ‘the other world’. A worldly-wise lady she is not given to loose talk in the presence of her son and bahu.Her dutiful and loving son leaves early and returns late in the evening from his office. Her relation with her daughter-in-law Shreya is cordial but formal. Shreya coming from a decent family is a Chartered Accountant working in a company. She is a very nice and gentle person who takes care of her mother-in-law like any dutiful bahu. My aged relative has really nothing much to grumble about.
A few oldies visit Paru mami in the afternoons when she is alone and spend a couple of hours daily except holidays gossiping and discussing their pains and bahus. This old lady has the habit of boasting that the amiable relation she has with her bahu has a lot to do with her own innate goodness and man management skills. She will not give any credit to the good natured Shreya for her accepting this old lady as a part of her family and for being considerate and kind to the extent possible consistent with her office commitments. That young lady leaves the lunch in hot box, snacks for the afternoon and coffee in flask. This clever lady will tell her friends “My bahu is in a hurry. I told her that I do not mind serving myself from the hot box. God has given me strength to manage my own affairs. I am not dependent on any one”. She will conveniently forget to tell about her weekly visits to the doctor every Saturday escorted by her bahu. The usual refrain of the lady was that all problems between mothers in law and bahus arose because of the foolish handling of the latter by the former and letting the grip go out of their hands. Little did she realize that her own bahu suffers in silence the conceit of this lady more out of respect for her husband and treats her talks that she comes to know as mere prattle of the aged.
Paru mami’s daughter Malati is living close by in a big house with her husband. Her well to do mother-in-law who was living with her elder son had to move here when he went abroad. That lady is very old and frail but managed her affairs well and is very affectionate to her bahu. Given to reading scriptures, she spends most of her time rolling beads. Being very flexible in nature she adjusted to the new surroundings. She gave ample sum each month to her daughter-in-law for her upkeep. But the daughter could not visit her mom as frequently as she did before as she had joined some painting and computer classes to keep herself busy and away from the home. Her retired husband stayed at home most of the times.
Paru mami’s refrain these days to her group is that her daughter Malati is confined to home tending to all the needs of her old mother-in-law and that she gets easily exhausted not being in the pink of health. She is unable to visit her much although she is at a stone’s throw forgetting carefully to mention about her painting and computer classes. The other oldies know that Malati is obese and indolent by nature, that nothing is wrong with her health and that she needs to walk daily to reduce the flab. But they commiserate with Paru mami and tell to her glee that none could match mami in her strong independent spirit, self esteem and her ability to manage the difficult modern day ‘office going and educated ‘bahu.
The last I heard was that Malati’s mother-in-law had joined a well maintained and well-to-do senior citizen’s home on her own insistence far away from the city. She wanted the quiet and peace of the suburbs to pursue her spiritual ways. Paru mami, I learn, is unusually silent these days in her afternoon sessions apprehensive that she may be sent to an old age home lacking the wherewithal to pay for deposit and monthly maintenance for a well-to-do senior citizen’s home. But her kindly bahu continues to be the same caring and gentle lady entertaining no such thoughts.


  1. Namaste.....

    Interesting eh, i guess she learned to keep quiet after all because she realized her situation. There is a saying where I am from, "If you cannot say anything good, say nothing at all".

    Nice story...thanks for sharing. I hope you are well and life is treating you kind. Take care and stay blessed.

  2. Usually it's hard to change as we age, but good that she realised what is best for her.

  3. A typical story found commonly everywhere.. Malati's mother-in-law has chosen the right path in pursuit of solitude and spiritual pleasures...

  4. wasnt that interesting :(
    all i could imagine was MIL ...DIL...other MIL...other DIL..wheres the story partha? the mystery is missing :(