Mother was unhappy with all of this since the time Shubhadeep told his parents about us. ‘Dating and all is your wish, but don’t bring a Paanjabi girl into our house’, they had made it clear to him

How I Coped With In-Laws Who Refused to Accept Me

(Image: Pixabay)

I met Shubhadeep on Tinder. What was supposed to be a one-night stand ended up becoming a lifetime commitment. I am Punjabi and he is Bengali, and if you think that lives of inter-caste couples have happy endings like Vicky Donor and Two States, you’ve got to read my story. 

Our relationship was formed out of natural progression. First date led to many dates and eventually love. But his mother was unhappy with all of this since the time Shubhadeep told his parents about us. ‘Dating and all is your wish, but don’t bring a Paanjabi girl into our house’, they had made it clear to him. The rebel child that he was, he made sure we say ‘I do’, and that too with a big fat wedding. I, however, knew what I was getting myself into. 

Shubh’s mother despised my presence in his life. She wanted him to find a nice Bengali girl to marry instead. Being educated enough, his parents participated in all the wedding festivities but both of us knew she would not let us live in peace. So we decided to get our own place even before the wedding, so that we can at least start building our own little world. But you can’t escape an angry mother-in-law’s wrath - no matter how far you stay. 

She would call up Shubhadeep and never even ask about me. Not answer the phone if I called to speak to her. My in-laws wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence if we would attend a family function. When invited to their house, she would cook a huge spread of Bengali food that I could not eat, as I wasn’t used to so much mustard in my food, and she knew about this. I remember this one time Shubhadeep asked her, ‘How come you never make anything Shalini can have?’ She looked into my eyes and said ‘Then she should learn to have all this, she is married into a Bengali home’. ‘So then order something she can eat’, he argued. ‘She is an independent young woman, I am sure she can order for herself’, my mother-in-law said. 

I felt so humiliated that day that I picked up my bag and left that house, promising to never return again. And despite the fact that Shubhadeep always took my side, I resented him so much for marrying me and punishing me with his parents. ‘My parents are always so nice to you, why should I put up with this shit?’ I yelled at him that night. ‘I want to have nothing to do with those people, and you choose if it's them or me!’ I declared and left for my parents house. I didn’t speak to my husband for days after that. He called and messaged my entire family to try and get in touch with me. But I had told them that I needed some time so they made him understand. 

One morning, my father walked into my room and asked me why I asked Shubhadeep to choose between me and his parents - so I told him everything that had been going on since the past six months. ‘Do you know your grandmother hated your mom, despite her being from the same caste?’ My father said. ‘What? No way! Mom and Dadi were so close till she died’ - I reminded him. ‘Yes, that’s what she built with her, and that’s what you saw. I didn’t even earn enough to give your mother a separate house like Shubhadeep has. I would often return home from work and see your mother in tears because of something or the other your Dadi would say, but I wasn’t even strong enough to take a stand for her, the way Shubhadeep is doing for you. Beta, relationships with in-laws can be complicated. They may or may not like you, just like neighbors - you either get along with them or you don’t. But you need to keep your focus on what you build for yourself and your husband. You have to see how much he loves you. Parents won’t stay with you forever - but you both will be with each other till the end - so focus only on how you will make that journey beautiful.’ 

My father’s words inspired me. I remembered how many times my mom would ask me to ignore something mean that Dadi would say to her. ‘Unhe nahi pata wo kya keh rahi hain’, she would laugh it off. I realized that it’s not like my Dadi and mom had a good relationship, it’s just that my mother chose to keep her focus on what was good in her life and even after Dadi died, I never heard her complain about her even once. Life is what we want to make of it. Toxic or beautiful - depends on what we want to give our energy to. I wasn’t willing to give mine to Shubhadeep’s parents - but they were still his parents and asking him to choose between them and me was a terrible thing to do. After all, they didn’t ask him to choose, they attended our wedding. They just didn’t want to have anything to do with me and I could do the same.

So I called him up that evening and apologized for the way I spoke to him. ‘Free your parents and me from each other’. I said. ‘You don’t have to meet them or speak to them’, he replied. ‘I agree, and let’s keep it that way. I love you and I want to be with you. But they clearly don’t want me in their lives so I don’t want to force it anymore. Let this relationship, too, grow organically’, I told him. It’s been two years since that day - my mother-in-law still doesn’t call me, but this year she WhatsApped me a birthday wish and I truly hope we grow from here. Shubhadeep and I are happily married and totally enjoying our lives together.

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Teesta Rajan
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