What is a discussion on contemporary Pakistani society without a discussion on the relationship of mother in laws and daughters in laws. Though this unique relationship is a bitter fruit in all cultures across the globe; regardless of race, class and ethnicity; in few other places it is as prominent as it is in Pakistan.
May be few other countries, where the concept of joint family systems still exist, can also lay claim to this eternal tussle. The MIL-DIL (mother in law-daughter in law) configuration is not only the sore of our society but also the core of the juiciest scandals in any given household.
The most hilarious part of this ‘comedy of errors’ is to note is that rarely does any unmarried girl ever believe that these stories could ever be repeated by her. After all she is educated and has the mental stamina to ignore the jahalat her married friends and female family members tell her that MILs are capable of pulling off. Above all she has the wisdom and patience to ignore the usual abhorable tactics observed by MILs to make the lives of their DILs miserable.
In my guestimate eighty percent of these newbies sign the marriage contract with an; in their opinion; unyielding resolve and uncompromising determination to make their new home,the envy of all the bickering, wrangling, backbiting and squabbling two-some known as MILs and DILs’
Sadly it takes just a few months for this part of the contract to fall through. Even if they are not living in a joint family system, they lose their patience and become part of the time old crowd of women who have fought since time immemorial over one thing alone; the guy they marry.If you are wondering about the remaining 20%, they enter the contract with gung-ho.
They are in no mood to give the MILs any kind of leg room to start exerting pressure on them and plan to capture the enemy from day one. Whether part of the optimistic 80% or the growling 20%, the end result for all is the same. The 80% just get there a little later than these 20% who are there from day one. It needs to be mentioned here that there is a breed of DILs out there who croons praises of their MILs. Upon a deeper inquiry it is however revealed that either their MILs are far, far away in other countries to be visited by these crooning dils once every two or three years or they are dead. There is no third scenario!
In the highly educated Western society, where there is no concept of joint family, the DILs are equally flabbergasted over the antics of their MILs hence proving that the joint family system cannot be deemed the primary reason for the war between the two stalwart figures in any man’s life. The cold war between Diana and the Queen was hope to millions in Pakistan.
Thousands of heartbroken DILs were comforted by their counterparts with,yar tu dil kiyoon chota kartee hai….jab Diana kee us kee sas say naheen bun saki to teri kiya banay gee…!!!.This war is time tested and there is no reason to believe that it is going anywhere in near future or even the far future. MIL and DIL have not learnt to co-exist in any culture; our society just has a larger chunk of this bickering as part of our social setup.
The jokes on the relationship are as endless as the war itself. For instance, a man’s rich MIL was kidnapped presumably for ransom. The kidnappers called two days later and told him,‘pay us this amount of money or we’ll send her back’.The guy responds,‘I’ll pay you this this amount if you’ll agree to keep her’. Here is another classic. A guy’s mother in law dies and at the funeral his friend comes to him for condolence and says.
So sorry about your mil. So what happened to the poor lady’ The guys says, ‘Well I recently got a dog and he bit her and she died’. The friend looks around carefully and then says, ‘Um…could you lend me this dog of yours for a day?’. The man says, ‘sure…just get in line’. .So why do they fight? The common notion is that they fight over the man that one has married and ‘taken away’ from the other. Women are known to be highly possessive and territorial. Unfortunately, the ‘territory’ in this case is the bone of contention as well so there is no peace at all.
This is not a sharing problem. After all the MIL has no issues when her son spends time with his male friends before or after the marriage. The problem is when he spends time with the wife. She is the thief who has stolen her ultimate treasure. It can be assumed that it is a classic case of one woman against another woman, a form of fight that has gone on for ever and has given rise to the popular view that a woman is a woman’s worst enemy.
Some DILs see their hopes in him, he belongs to them. Sure they bring the ultimate hoor-pari (fairy princess) for him to marry but that hoor-pari is to stay in the background and should make no emotional claims on him. She is to be as obedient and as meek a servant to the MIL as the son is expected to be. The moment the hoor-pari starts displaying her ‘par’, ‘let the wars begin!’.
Some DILs point out the fact that the other in law wars are quite equally dynamic and forceful but no one can argue that the real and classic in law war is the MIL vs DIL war. In many homes, the curiosity kills the peace of house, the mental health of the guy and the hair on his head. From curiosity arises interference and from interference the feeling of lack of privacy and from lack of privacy the feeling of being psychologically invaded. It works similarly for both parties.
In the end they both lash out in defense. The result is a cat fight that has the neighbors glued to their walls. There have been instances where the neighbors plant their ‘moles’ in the ‘juicy’ households on the street in the form of highly paid cleaning women who spy for them and work as the daily CNN and BBCs. One DIL suggests that our society needs a special education program for the MILs and SILs (sister in laws) before their sons and brothers get married.
The party who suffers the most in this battle is the poor guy. Most of them spend their entire lives trying to keep both these very important parts of their existence assuaged and happy. But few ever really succeed. Where the wife rages on about ‘your mother’, the mother refuses the let the fight out of her hand with ‘your wife’.
I am sure there are times when a lot of poor guys wished they had neither mothers nor wives! There is little they can do to help the situation for the simple reason that they are the reason for why they are fighting. I feel sorry for the husbands but again, they are the reasons for the loving MIL and DIL relationships in the first place.
Needless to say the colorful MIL and DIL relationship are one of the things that makes our society so unique. The fighting is incessant and persistent; the reasons why they fight ceaseless; the ways to make peace non-existent; the fun the onlookers get out of it immeasurable and the misery it inflicts on the son boundless. Who said Pakistani society has so little to be proud of? We Pakistanis are very proud of the cultural heritage of the mother in law….!