My brother is seven and a half years younger to me. When I got married he was preparing for his 12th boards and when he got married I was a mother of two, living in another city. Just a few days before his wedding, I remember discussing with my mother about his would-be wife. Although, they had been dating for a few years, we did not know her very well then. I was concerned what the future would hold for them as a couple and for us as family.
The reason not being as much for the stereotype of this relationship, but also because I worried for my mother. Married at the age of 18, my Ma had not seen an easy life. Part of the proverbial big, fat Punjabi family, Ma had nurtured every relationship to the extent that she always put the needs of others before her own. Ma was someone who would never react to anyone’s rudely spoken words directed towards her. And there were many over the years, including her own flesh and blood, who wounded her soul with their callous words. I was an unhappy witness to far too many such incidents.
When I voiced my concern, I remember her telling me that she did not believe that when a girl marries into a family she should be expected to follow the rules of her new family. In fact, it is the responsibility of the in-laws to make her feel at home. I loved her for saying this and hoped for the best. I cautioned her to be careful, to which she replied as always, what will be, will be.
My brother’s wedding was a happy and fun affair. After welcoming my sister-in-law into the family, I left for my home in Chandigarh. Would my Ma’s inherent faith in human nature be realized or would my apprehensions come true, I left it for the time to decide.
And I no longer worry for my Ma, because she worries for her now. She worries for Ma’s health and her well-being more than me. She worries about Ma being overworked and will often call me saying, “Di, Ma needs a break.” My mother has always loved to travel to different destinations around the world but my father due to various reasons does not, so my sister-in-law compels my brother to dig deep into his resources to make these sojourns possible. Ma in the recent past has travelled to Dubai, Kerala, Bali and Malaysia with her girlfriends. She stands up for Ma politely rebuffing and putting people in their rightful place without offending them. Ma, on her part cannot hear a word against her, even from my brother. My Dad, comes from an old school of thought, and hence once told Ma in the early days that he does not approve of my sister-in-law wearing jeans, to which Ma had replied, ask your daughter to stop first. My mother and her daughter-in-law’s relationship is special and I sometimes feel left out, but not for long as my sister-in-law quickly draws me back into the fold even before Ma realizes.