There is an immigrant residing in every home - GulfToday

There is an immigrant residing in every home


Illustrative image.

Yes, you read that right. There is an immigrant residing in every home we know. She is someone you can all identify with — she is the daughter-in-law. How is she an immigrant, you may ask? Well, consider this. You are a 20 or 30-year-old woman, and through an arranged marriage or a love marriage, you enter into a new territory. If it is a joint family, you have to leave the familiarity of your family and the home of your childhood, and walk out of the comfort zone into a new country. So, here she arrives, unsure of what is in store for her — a new way of life, a new beginning, and guess what, no training whatsoever to prepare her. Just adjust, her folks tell her, and bid their tearful bye-byes.

Unlike an immigrant, the paperwork is the easiest part — a piece of paper says that you are now a legal and lawful wife of this man — and everyone expects that, in a short while, the sooner the better, you shall seamlessly integrate into the family’s culture. You can deconstruct the intersection points of your contact with this so-called “culture” of your in-laws, assuming that you were not staying alone with your husband and starting out a new start-up marital venture, as it were. So, how does the immigrant navigate these checkpost points? With a sense of nervous anxiety and trembling, and zero support from the husband, who waves a casual breezingly says, it’s cool, you will manage. It does not matter whether you are a traditional person or a modern woman. The ordeal is the same. Marriage is not about your launch of a journey with the husband — you essentially are expected to join a bandwagon, which comes along with an ingrained culture.

The daughter-in-law a.k.a The Immigrant may decide that husband is the person to prioritise as other relationships begin with him. If he has no objections with your habits or idiosyncracies, then there is nothing for the daughter-in-law to worry about. However, life is not all that simple, right?

The Kitchen is where the Immigrant stress begins. What was your favourite recipes are kept aside for a later time. Now, meals have to be prepared or supervised or ordered as the case may be – but there is a way that the in-laws deal with it, so dear daughter-in-law, please adapt, or keep away. At a price, obviously.

The next stress point for the daughter-in-law –and that is the Living Room, where all the men, or the ladies and gents collectively, have their power plays going on. Then there is the usual arrival of guests and relatives –and how you are called at short notice to be paraded, and you are expected to respond to small talk and be gracious and elegant and respectful.

Of course, if she were moving into a new flat, rented or otherwise, to be alone with her husband, of course, the same pressures are played out –but here, at least, it is a level playing field, and if the wife is smart and patient, she will let her writ run from day one. Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is — the daughter-in-law is the immigrant, who arrives, with bag and baggage, leaving her known world behind, and with a hope and a prayer, takes the first tentative steps to begin life in a new country — the country of her in-laws, or the husband country, and she has to blend in and adapt and shower affection and love on all the folks around her — one day at a time — while time flies above the sheltering sky — until that day arrives, when she is accepted for what she is, and is an immigrant no more.

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