Ki Gal?

He said, “That’s not your home now. Your home is here with me.” It took me a while to absorb that statement.

Ki Gal?

Once married, it seems to be the eternal wish of every girl to spend some time in her parents home. The word Maika means, Ma ka ghar. In Punjab we say Peke, which means Peo (father) ka ghar. When I got married, my parents’ home was just two sectors away so I always wanted to go over, just for a bit. My mother was a marvellous cook and often sent over home-made delicacies that everyone in my new family savoured. Strangely, Mama’s food had that ‘bachpan ka swaad’, so I relished it no end. Sometimes Mama  would insist that I come over because she had made this, that and the other. It took a lot of courage to ask my mother-in-law if I could go over for a few hours. After the initial, “Kyon?”, occasionally I got a nod of assent. One morning, I asked my husband if he could drop me home on his way to work. He said, “That’s not your home now. Your home is here with me.” It took me a while to absorb that statement.

A friend of mine, also had similar circumstances. Her parents’ home was also close by. Once in a week, she would ask her mother-in-law if she could visit her parents. The mother-in-law would look formidably over her reading glasses, raise her eyebrows and ask, “Ki gal?” (What happened?) Her husband had a sister who was also married locally. The sister would drop by for a cup of tea every evening. Once in a blue moon, if she didn’t come, the mother would call her up and ask, “Ki Gal?” My friend and I, often fretted, fumed, laughed and cried over, “Ki Gal?”

With the birth of our children it became more difficult to visit. Some years hence, my father was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court, so my Maika shifted to Delhi. For nine years, I enjoyed the bi-annual luxury of staying for a few days at my parents’ home. One day while driving to Delhi, my husband was trying to overtake a truck that was refusing to let us surge ahead. My little son said, “Get aside! We have to go to Nani house!” Conversely on our return journey, he said, “Get aside! We have to go to Dadi house.” Just then Sanjay said, “Why just Dadi house? It’s our house. We are going home!” It struck me … Yes! That was my home. No longer did my Maika feel like home. The transition had been slow and smooth. I never realised when it happened. All through, I strived to meet with the approval of my parents-in-law. With so much strictness, I learnt to adjust and make my husband’s home, mine.

Recently, my daughter-in-law, said to my ninety-year-old Mother-in-law, “Dadi, I’m going to Delhi to spend some time with my parents.” She said in indignation, “Ki Gal? Tera dil nahin lagda aithe?”

I couldn’t stop laughing! Old habits die hard!

This piece has been published as the Middle in The Tribune on 29.04.2023. Shaing the link here