Meet The Parents (In-Law)! Chandni Sehgal

I have deep-rooted trust issues. And while my cheating ex may be more than a little to blame, I believe scars run deeper when the bonds between mother and child are corrupted. When the lady that kept you alive when all could accomplish was bowel movements and bawling tricks you – that’s when the s**t hits the fan.

One fine day, as we made our way to meet an ailing, elderly relative, I was informed that a lady with an “eligible” son was waiting beyond the door to look at me (to see if all limbs worked, I coherently could sentences string together and hopefully wasn’t cock-eyed, I presume). Before I could make a quick escape, I was ushered in, where this expectant mother-in-law to be and her sister-in-law waited with bated breathe to see a potential adoptee (daughter-in-law, not scared puppy, in case you were wondering).

As time passed and the conversation went from low-key to ludicrous (“What do you do?” to “Oh, your office is close to our home!”), family members starting appearing; much like Russian Babushka dolls – just when you think you’re done, another one pops up. So, I went from being looked at from the gentleman’s mother, aunt and father to the boy himself (in stages, for their convenience, I presume).

Meeting the in-laws even when you’ve been a couple for years can be a haranguing experience. Even when you’ve perfected the way to sidestep every minefield, you can still go wrong—so walking in blind isn’t just deceptive, it’s downright cruel.

1. The Motivators

I investigated, and found the forces that drive usually rational adults to dupe unsuspecting, albeit unwilling, offspring are:

  • Society: If you have an unmarried child who has come of age, then something must definitely be wrong with your family – financial issues, debilitating physical abnormalities (like a persistent parental) or all of the above, (It has nothing to do with the fact that he/she just hasn’t found the right person!)
  • Fear of wrong choices: With great age comes great wisdom and the ability to discern Prince Charming from Prince Con artist… or so they think.
  • Too late, too little: As you get older, the good ones are taken, the rest have issues and your appeal starts to fade. (The early bird catches the worm?) This applies more to women then men, because you know, society believes the older the man, the more distinguished, obviously. Plus, he couldn’t find someone good enough for him, duh, as you ladies wasted away your youth.

2.The Modus Operandi

Scouting for the perfect partner for the child isn’t hard in India; just like the population, the prospectives keep increasing. And victims, they’re watching your every move. Forget the debutante’s ball – the moment you come of age, every minute in the public eye is your chance to impress and theirs to place bets. Here are the (un) usual hunting grounds:

  • The big fat Indian wedding: The jewels are out, the hair is coiffed, the suits are sharp and the victims are on display for the world to see. So while all you want to do is get wasted at the open bar like any other singleton, be warned, your drunken rants and stumbling dance moves might scare away a frazzled old lady.
  • Your workplace: Yes, ladies and gentlemen, nowhere is safe. While at 10am on a Monday you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled and not send a mass email bitching about your boss by accident. After all, eligible boy’s father’s uncle’s wife could be eyeing you and your every grumpy mood.
  • The gym: As you sweat, toil and curse your way through 30 minutes on the elliptical, eager parents could be imagining just what sport your chubby little infants would play.
  • The ‘family friend’:  If you’re a loyal friend of the family and are decently issue-less, voila, you’re automatically on the radar to be married off to another close ‘family friend’. “Friends-in-laws, anyone?”

And while I’ve become more vigilant when being invited out, I truly hope there isn’t a sequel to this horror-comedy—for me, or any one else.

Image via Shutterstock

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