It was during my initial days in Chennai that I met Revamma* at Tambaram. My friend took me to her house as I was searching for a paying guest home. She looked like any other woman of the age 60 years. There were a lot of confusions inside me after seeing her. She seemed very strict and for somebody like me who live without any discipline, staying with her and the family didn’t sound like a good idea.But, my situation was so crucial that I badly wanted a place to stay.
(Here onwards I will be addressing her as Aunty.)
While walking back after giving the advance amount, I shed my worries to my friend. The family is very big consisting of eleven people – Aunty,Uncle,their four sons, Uncle’s Mother, Uncle’s niece, wives of first and second sons and the new-born of first son. Only the elder son, his wife and second son’s wife know to speak in English. Those days, I didn’t know Tamil and these people spoke Telugu at home. This home was only a temporary escape from the jail like hostel I was staying for the first one month of my job. Though reluctantly, I still moved in to their place. I was given a room which had a different stairway from theirs.
I moved in on a Saturday and next morning, as usual, I over slept. According to the deal, the family would be giving me food too. Waking up at 11.30 in the morning and asking for breakfast seemed a very bad idea. So I again slept to wake up at 3 PM when Aunty banged on my door. She said something to me and I understood it like “Please brush your teeth and come for lunch”. After refreshing myself I went to their house and I saw a crowd there. This is the problem when we grow up in a nuclear family and have not seen anybody other than your parents and sibling. I was seeing the complete family for the first time. Aunty and Paattima(Uncle’s Mother) were having lunch at the dining table. Rest of the folks was sitting on the mats spread on the floor. I was in confusion where to sit but when Aunty told me to sit on the chair next to hers I obeyed like a good girl.
That was the first and last day I felt strangeness about the family. Aunty adopted me as her daughter as she doesn’t have one. We had language issues but still we communicated and laughed out for jokes. They educated me on Tamil and Telugu movies. Altogether the family was a completely happy family.
Aunty stole my heart for various reasons.
She kept a very good rapport with her daughters-in-law. There were no rules kept for them. Three of them would go out for a walk in the evening. Aunty has no hesitation in serving food for them. The first DIL** told me that she didn’t want to go to her house during the 7th month of pregnancy. She did so only because of her family nagged her. I felt so happy when I heard both the DILs told me that they liked Aunty so much. I understood that it is true in my one year’s stay at their place. Aunty never made a fuss about the DILs taking afternoon nap. When she wants coffee after the nap, she prepares it by herself. She is very considerate when the DILs are having their periods, allowing them to take rest. Those days she cooks for all of us without any complaints. I regret for not taking that rare moment in the history of MILs*** and DILs in India. Both of the DILs don’t know to wear sari. They would stand in front of Aunty like obedient kids and she would make them wear it. The rarest scene I am talking about is Aunty kneeling down on the floor to correct the DILs’ sari fall. I wonder whether there is any MIL in India who would do so.
I respect her for bringing up her sons teaching them every household work. Though the first two sons are married, they both wash their plates after meals. All four of them know to cook, clean the house and wash clothes. They are a middle class family but Uncle and Aunty, though they are not educated, have brought them up well.
Once, her second son went for a movie with his friends without taking his wife. He didn’t take her because he and his friends had some plans after the movie. The second DIL felt little sad about it and you know what Aunty did? We, ladies in the house, went for the same movie next day. The DILs go out with their friends, their friends come home and everybody likes Aunty so much. When the second DIL became pregnant, she refused to go to her house for the delivery. She said that she is happier here than at her own house. But, Aunty told her to go. It was a surprise for me to see Aunty calling up the second DIL daily.
My mind was full of prejudices before moving in thinking whether Aunty would watch my moves and schedules. But, as long as I update her whether I would be there for dinner or not, she hasn’t controlled my lifestyle in any way. She has never asked where I am going or with whom I am going out. She never made comments about my schedules or clothes. In fact, there were a couple of times when I actually hugged her and cried because of some issues at work.
When people around me burst my ear drums with horrifying stories of their MIL, Revamma is a Goddess.
*Not the original name
**Daughter – in-law