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Mother in law vs daughter in law

This post is purely imaginative and while it refers to the characters as Rekha – my wife and Selvi – my mother…they were in no way involved in this incident. This post has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with me!

Fully aware of my hair`s need for coconut oil, my mother decided that Sunday was a good day for me to apply coconut oil and take bath. Like a lamb to the slaughter, I extended my head while she applied copious amount of Parachute oil (I still wonder why coconut oil has to be named Parachute. Why not ‘Lifeboat`?). Till this seemingly small incident, I didn`t realize that my hair was disputed territory. Though, the intelligent me should have guessed that anything at the top – Kashmir for example – is likely to be disputed. At least that is what half the World says.

I heard my wife, who I assume was just passing by, say: “Aunty, I could have done that.”

I heard my mother quickly respond, as if somebody had already given her the script and she had been practicing all night. “That`s ok dear. He is my son after all and I applied oil on his head for 28 years before you married him.”

“But now, I have married him, aunty.”

“That doesn`t mean I can`t apply oil on his head. Or does it?”

I tried to intervene but could only say ‘hey, mother…Rekha…” before my mother rolled my head around in such a way that my Adam`s apple hurt. Surprisingly, it was Adam`s apple but I felt the pain. While on the subject of apples, did you know that Newton`s apple fell? Anyway, I couldn`t utter a single word thereafter and was a mute spectator to this favorite pastime in Indian families.

“I know you have been applying oil on his hair for the last 28 years and that`s precisely why I am asking you to leave this to me now.” It was Rekha. She had her arms akimbo which meant she was angry.

With bated breath I waited for my mother to respond. What was she going to say? I saw logic in what my wife was saying.

“Rekha dear (I swear I spotted some sarcasm when she uttered the word ‘dear`)…you will know once you give birth to your child.”

“But aunty, you would have applied oil on uncle`s hair…so it is only just that you give me my share of joy.” You could accuse me of being a hen-pecked husband but I thought my wife was doing a fairly good job here.

Maybe the argument was taking a toll on my mother`s motor faculties…she was just running her oily, sticky fingers through my hair now. I knew she was thinking. Hard.

“Are you saying you will not apply oil on your son`s hair after he is married?” Now, the scales seem to tilt in my mother`s favor. I wondered how Rekha saw herself reacting when a similar situation arose – 30 years hence.

There was a long silence. Was it the right time for me to intervene? I wasn`t so sure. Many a times, a rabbit gets hurt because it thinks the tigresses are in a playful mood and it is the right time to get out of the shrub. I held my breath.

Rekha spoke first. “I agree aunty. You have every right to apply oil…by depriving you of a chance now I don`t want to let go of my chance when my son marries. Besides, medical facilities are really good now-a-days…and for all we know…I might not be able to cheat after you are gone.”

I thought I heard my mother`s victory smile. It was the right time to emerge from under my bush. I said: “Peace then, huh?”

Before my mother could say anything my wife jumped up and said, “Let me give you an oil massage today.” I smiled – luck takes many forms before it smiles on you. As I followed my wife I heard myself say: ‘Sorry, mom!”

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