How to train your mother-in-law, BJP style
Do not ever let Sumitra Mahajan watch saas-bahu serials even if she whines that our beloved prime minister enjoys them too, as he recently admitted in Bihar.
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When Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan recently said, "Delhi is like the eldest daughter-in-law of the family", I experienced this overpowering urge to clasp her to my bosom, plant several fire-engine red lipstick imprints on her chubby cheeks, and shamelessly plead, "Accept me as your daughter-in-law. Please, please, please, Mummyji." Look, I love my husband dearly, but as the BJP pompously keeps reminding us, "The nation comes first". It would be terribly anti-national of me not to at least offer to put the charmingly regressive Ms Mahajan on the path of progressive thinking – that’s what real vikas is all about, right? The poor darling has evidently been watching too many mind-numbing saas-bahu TV serials (tsk) and must learn that daughters-in-law now expect to be treated as equals (what’s with this eldest and youngest nonsense?) and yearn to put tyrannical stone age mothers-in-law in their place.
Now, if you’re wondering how to train your mother-in-law, here are a few tips:
1. Lay down the law with your mother-in-law within the first year of your marriage or you may become galouti kebab material. Don’t hold back – you have my permission to go completely over-the-top in your determination not to be served and swallowed with mint chutney and pickled onions.
2. If she insists that you should wear saris when meeting grisly relatives, cross your arms firmly and bark, "Shan’t". If your husband is called in as referee and he darts an imploring look at you that makes your heart melt like ice cream on a hot summer’s day, give in a bit by qualifying the terse "Shan’t". Ditch the truculent tone, switch to modest-Indian-bride mode and shyly whisper, "Way too much of the tummy shows, and I feel just as naked as Lady Godiva. Hell, I don’t even have long flowing tresses or a horse!" Note: do not meet your husband’s eye when you say this. Remember that he’s seen you in the littlest of little black dresses that reveal panties when you so much as incline your head to shake hands.
3. If she asks you to cook a meal, sigh regretfully and confess that you can’t cook (yes, even if your talent in the kitchen makes Jamie Oliver look like a novice – the point is, you’re playing the tough lion-taming game, okay? Do not give in till your mother-in-law turns into your pet and enthusiastically wags her sari pallu whenever she sees you). Helpfully present your vast collection of take away menus to her on a breakfast tray instead and generously ask her to choose. However, if your husband proves to be the diplomat India really should have had during the recent stupidity over the India-Pakistan NSA-level meet, and offers to assist you in the kitchen, give in gracefully. Burn the rice gracefully too (just a bit at the bottom of the pan and stir gently when it’s done). Sprinkle salt lavishly as well. Rest assured she will call Domino’s or Nathu’s Sweets the next time round.
4. If she insists that you spend all your holidays with her instead of with your own parents, don’t say a word. Go on that holiday with Bose speakers and your music, and let the high pitched screams and yowls of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Deep Purple do the talking during her morning prayers and afternoon naps. Rest assured you will never be invited again. Oh, and if your husband protests, sneer and say, "Oh, you’re into wimpy pop, is it?" That should shut him up effectively.
5. If you and your husband made a pre-marital pact to be responsible citizens who do not wish to contribute to India’s crazy population explosion (despite fervent pleas by sundry semi-literate Babas and Sadhvis to go forth and produce more Hindu offspring) here’s how to deal with your mother-in-law when she expresses the desire to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet. Offer to get a cute abandoned puppy from Friendicoes, first. If she doesn’t fall for that, be prepared for shameless emotional blackmail – oh, and also be prepared to lie. Shed copious tears and wail that you badly want a baby, swear that your biological clock is ticking so loudly that the neighbours have complained to the police several times, but her beloved son absolutely refuses to have one and has forced you (at gun point) to get your tubes tied. Yeah, let him deal with it. Goshdarnit, she’s his mum, after all.
6. Do not ever let her watch saas-bahu serials even if she whines that our beloved prime minister enjoys them too, as he recently admitted in Bihar. Dexter is a much better idea. It may inspire her to be a better (if not perfect) mother-in-law – particularly if you put posters of Dexter on your bedroom walls and under your pillow.