After my hugely successful first post on Joint Family, I’ve decided it’s time for another one on Joint family. Isn’t that the formula in cinema? Make a weak sequel to a decent film and hope that one promotes the other (Billa – original, 1,2). I live the joint-family life everyday (every-&*$@-day), so it’s only natural that the subject is close to my heart and I feel so much about it. This post will be an invaluable guide for girls on the threshold of marriage and a ready reference for dumb DILs (daughter-in-law) like me who learnt everything the hard way, the wrong way. It is the accumulated wisdom of generations of DILs in one place.
1. Don’t ever ask the husband to put away his clothes, take the kid to the toilet or even get you a glass of water, at-least not in front of the MIL (mother-in-law). Mothers don’t take it lightly when wives come in and get their sons to do a little work after they’ve spent their whole lives training them to do nothing. The wife shalt not disturb the husbands operating the TV remote.
2. It may be just a simple omelette or rava upma, but everything ought to be done their way. So whether you know how to make it or not, ask the mother-in-law to show you how. Believe me, they’re not looking for Masterchefs, they want Adimais (obedient slaves). All those ads that show the MIL in awe of the new wife’s cooking prowess is total bullshit. Sue those companies.
3. You think only Infosys has an in-time/out-time record? Every MIL has the wake-up time/enters the kitchen time record. Waking up late is a cardinal sin in the joint-family setup. I am a serial offender. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the bench, if you can’t start anything without the MIL’s directions. Just be there on time and act helpless.
4. However beautiful the saree may be, however much time you spent picking it, the MIL will 100% want to exchange the saree you so thoughtfully bought her as a gift. She may after going to the store, and inspecting every saree decide to buy something much uglier but she has chosen it, remember! So always take her to the store or if you still want to surprise her and humiliate yourself, keep the bill.
5. Successful mothers-in-law rarely have a sense of humour and they never appreciate sarcasm. Don’t try to be funny. It doesn’t work.
6. The kitchen is the power-centre. Act prudently. Always discuss the menu even though most of what you propose may not make the cut. Don’t you throw out anything before asking (as stressed in Joint-family – part 1). You’ll be marked for life as the kuzhambu waster.
7. Doing is important but Showing that you’re doing is much more important. Same principle as in office. Ever wondered how that other guy is always on leave, does little or no work but sends an e-mail all the same and gets better appraisals. This is how. Make noise, make a big deal of everything. “Jail ku poren, Jail ku poren”. Likewise “Saaman Theika poren, Saaman Theika poren”.
8. Don’t mix MILs. It’s worse than mixing whiskey and rum. Invariably the wife’s mother and husband’s mother are two ends of a spectrum and will take offence at anything and everything the other utters or does.
9. Kids are the next big target after the husband. Make it clear that every mother gets just one chance at spoiling kids and this is your chance. Train them young to put away their shoes and bags and pick up after themselves and save yourself a rant from some crazy blogger.
10. Well dressed and made up – Alti, too little – lazy bum, proactive and decisive – haughty, servile and waiting for instructions – lazy and dumb. Take it easy, be yourself. No MIL has ever awarded the “Best Marumagal (Daughter-in-law) award” to her own daughter-in-law. It just doesn’t happen (forget Sivakumar, he’s technically a FIL but still).