A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Am I a cheat?

Posted by Pepper on February 15, 2011

I’ve had this internal conflict going on for some time now. It began the moment I got married. As soon as the wedding ceremony was over and I stepped out, my mom in law looked at my thali (for the uninitiated, this is the tam version of the mangalsutra) and told me in all seriousness, ‘Never, ever take this out even for a moment. If you ever remove this, it shall mean that your marriage has been terminated’. I looked at her to find out if she was joking. She wasn’t. How could she  be serious? It seemed rather ridiculous to me.

And then I thought about the cultural differences and the different backgrounds we emerge from. She is a woman, who never questions tradition, but in fact, dutifully embraces every aspect of it. For her, the thali is precious. It is the sacred thread tied around her neck by her husband that binds them into holy matrimony. She has worn it since the day she got married, and it is now second skin to her, an inseparable part of herself. That is the only way she knows. My family on the other hand, is a lot less traditional. I have never seen my mom wearing it, unless an occasion demands it. The bonds between my parents are strong. The connections are internal, and a piece of jewelery has little or nothing to do with their marital status. Naturally, I belong to this school of thought.

Mint tying the thali during our wedding ceremony

For the records, I do not wear my thali/mangalsutra at all. Not because it is sexist.  I am the kind of person to go against my personal belief and bend as per your needs, IF it does not interfere with my life in a drastic way. So I will not even get into the whole sexist argument. But my thali is not something I can wear on an everyday basis. It is a thick, chunky and long gold chain, with an added piece of gold dangling in the centre. Not only does it clash with my outfits, it is also extremely uncomfortable. Beside, I do not feel emotionally attached to it. Not even remotely. For me, it just just a gold chain. There is nothing holy or sacred about it. It does not represent or symbolise my marriage in any way. The love we have for each other and the life we’ve built together is all that is important to me. Our bond does not need to be testified by a shiny piece of metal. So I don’t wear it.

Here is the twist though. Every time I am in front of the in laws, I do wear it, making them believe that it is worn by me at all times. Since we don’t live together and only visit India for a few weeks, this works. But this is what guilt trips me and makes me feel like a cheat. I end up putting up a farce each time we are together.  I do not have the courage to tell my mum in law I do not wear it, nor do I wish to wear it. I know the consequences. For her, it is the most important thing, and knowing I do not wear it will make her break down. She will be appalled by my complete disregard for their belief, for tradition, for what is right. She will question my values and view me with perpetual bitterness. Because like I said, going by her background and upbringing, such traditions are unquestionable and always have to be adhered to. Deviating from such norms is something she has never known.

How then do I make her see eye to eye? I do not have the courage to deal with her tears, and subject her to such hurt and misery. Nor do I have the willingness to wear my thali at all times. So I continue to deceive the in laws. And continue to battle the guilt. Will I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in some day? Will I have the heart to cause them such unhappiness? Will I always be timid? I don’t have the answers to these questions. For now, I take the easier route that makes me wonder, am I a cheat?

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85 Responses to “Am I a cheat?”

  1. I do the same thing, Pepper!! And I think its good to ‘not hurt sentiments’ of a person. So what if we put up a farce for a couple of weeks in a year. I think thats perfectly Ok 🙂

    • Pepper said

      True Pal..but this only works because we’ve to do it for a few weeks in a year. What if we’ve to live together at some point? Beside, I wish they’d know me for the person I am..

      • A life said

        I m in the same boat as u ! At some point we might live together .. Also since I have a baby my mil would keep coming to USA and stay with us for 6 months ! I don’t know how I can put thali and bindi for so many months😁😁😒😢😢

    • Roop Rai said

      Me too do the same. Thali and the bindi too :p.

  2. A wise woman(Comfy) once told me…
    “You pick your battles”
    There is no point fighting for every thing right?
    And then I asked her to be my shrink 😛

    So the bottomline is, I think you are not being a cheat, you are only being considerate 🙂
    Going by your story, there is no adjective in English language for the superlative of ‘cheat’ I can use for myself for not hurting parents and all 😉

  3. Smitha said

    I can so identify with what you are going through. I went through with this in my initial years of marriage. I was expected to wear all the ‘signs’ of being married, toe rings, the mangalsutra etc, etc. There was no way I oculd wear it all the time. Because as you say, it did not work. My toes hurt really badly with the rings, and it was torture, and my mangalsutra is also a huge thing, which I don’t feel comfortable wearing. Slowly, I stopped wearing them altogether, and now no one expects me to wear anything 🙂 Not even sindoor or a bindi- thankfully! It works better if you can get Mint to tell her that he does not like it on you – that works like a charm 🙂 Atleast it worked for me.

    • Pepper said

      The initial years must have been tough Smithu.. I can’t imagine having that stuff on constantly. I am okay wearing the toe rings, because I love those and even wore them before marriage. But when something is uncomfortable, it’s annoying.

      Getting Mint to tell them he doesn’t like it on me wouldn’t work, because they already know he’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t like that kind of thing. And his disregard for tradition, or anything illogical is quite well known to them. They’ve been forced to accept him that way. But they have different expectations from me, and would in fact want me to influence him the ‘right way’.

  4. bikram said

    Am I first

  5. bikram said

    Na its not about cheating its about what u r comfotlrtable with look at it the other way round it shows u respect ur in laws amd u care for there feelings so u put it in front of them.
    As long athey dont find out I guess its ok. I think personal reasons matter more. How does your hubby feel about it.
    I guess he is fine with it , end of the day you are two whose want or way should mattet rest are very inportant I know but you two come first, if u know what I mean.
    Hope I did not say anything wrong if I have then I am sorry.

    • Pepper said

      “As long as they don’t find out its okay?” 🙂 That is what I like to believe, conveniently.

      Yes another reason I don’t wear it cos I know Mint doesn’t care about it in the least bit.
      Of course you said nothing wrong, why would you be sorry..

  6. revsjoiedevivre said

    Not at all. There are some things that can never be resolved between two generations(in most cases) and I think this is one of it. As someone from a Tamil family, I do know the importance given to a Thaali. And I also belong to the category that finds any jewelery a pain. I cant wear anything more than the basics-the smallest of earrings and the tiniest chain(only when I go to visit the grandparents)So if I am in your situation, guess this is exactly what I’d do too 🙂 So chin up.

    • Pepper said

      Why would you have to wear a chain if you visit grandparents??? Do they want you to have jewelery on?

      I knew you’d understand the importance given to a Thaali.. but I get annoyed when I think of how sentimental they are about it because it so very sexist!

      This is what you’d do if you were in my situation. But what if the situation changes and you gotta live around them for long periods, then what would you do?

  7. R's Mom said

    Of course you are not a cheat…My MIL is like yours and she doesnt stay with me…I used to wear my thali till sometime ago when this (http://readingthroughrsmind.blogspot.com/2010/11/post-train-post.html) happened to me and I decided against it…MIL doesnt know and when I go to calcutta I do intend wearing it..its just about not hurting their feelings..and honestly I dont think anything happened to hubby when I removed it 😉 Wear it when she is around…if she is someone you can actually talk to…tell her the practical difficulties of wearing it…heavy around the neck, the middle gold portion goes to the underarms and pokes you like hell when you lie down and difficult to carry it while going out…It seriously is okie dont take it so hard on yourself

    PS I came here from Nuttie

    • Pepper said

      Welcome here R’s Mom. You’ve described the reasons perfectly – heavy around the neck, middle portion swings in all directions when you lie down and pokes you, etc. But my mom in law wouldn’t see those issues as problems. She has worn hers almost all her life, and will see no reason for me not being able to do it. But yes, at some point, I have to find a way around this 🙂

  8. phew pepper! i dont think u are a cheat…but i really wouldn’t know how to deal with the situation. I dont wear my thali but i think my MIL is cool with it, at least she doesn’t say anything.

    While i totally understand u not wanting to rock the boat. Maybe the best thing to do is leave the issue as long as u can and then get Mint to speak to her. at least that’s whta i would do. Sons usually have a way of letting their mom’s know things which are unpleasant

    • Pepper said

      Yes, Mint can tell her that I don’t want to and won’t be wearing it. But the result will be the same = hurt and tears. That is what I was trying to avoid. But let me give this some time and then we’ll see..

  9. Chatterbox said

    I don’t see you as cheating on your in-laws. In fact you are trying to balance out your values and their cultural beliefs. What actually matters is the goodwill you have for your MIL and the sweet concern you show by doing what matters to her deeply.

    Personally, I too have faced similar situations countless times in my personal life.It is hard to convince ourselves that we aren’t cheating but the reality is adjustment and due respect for each others beliefs go a long way in maintaining a healthy relationship.

    • Pepper said

      I am trying to balance out my values and their cultural beliefs, but I am always afraid of tipping the balance, one way or the other.

      Your last line said it all CB 🙂

  10. Smita said

    Cheat? Not at all. See like you I also believe in following rituals which do not hurt me. I mean I believe in the simple fact that if following an XYZ thing doesn’t hurt me or somebody else then I shud have no issues in following it. BUT if is is something with which I don’t agree in prinicple then I won’t do it.

    I think that by not telling ur MIL u r trying not to hurt her but I was wondering if she decides to visit you guys how will u handle it? It wud be better that slowly u make her understand that certain things are practically not possible. If she understands well n good otherwise let the things be the way they are but don’t feel guilty because what you are doing is not to hurt her but because you don’t believe in them. And belief is something personal & can not be ruled by someone else.

    • Pepper said

      I don’t know how I’d handle it if they decided to visit for an extended period. Knowing the timid person I am, I’d just wear it all along. I do hope to gently convey to her at some point though, that I don’t intend wearing it.
      You’re right. Belief is after all personal and cannot be ruled by someone else.

  11. Ashwathy said

    Nah… I totally understand. My aunt was telling me the same thing when I got my engagement ring. She saw me remove it when I went ot take a bath and she was like, omg!! u nor supposed to do that!!
    I was like, ummm yea…and have it fall down the bathroom drain? 🙄 no thanks! 😛

    But other than that – for now – i wear it all the time. I do not know if I would do the same for the thaali once I get married a few months from now. Honestly speaking I belong to ur school of thought. The relationship does not lie in the ring or the necklace or any other jewellery…it’s in ur mind…if that is secure, then wearing it or not wearing it does not make a difference.

    Having said that, ur case is still easier. U do not live with ur in-laws, so the charade lasts only for a few weeks when u r visiting them. I’d say u r making that sacrifice for them just to see them happy. Nothing wrong there. Just my perspective. And as long as ur husband supports u, what’s the problem?

    It’s their belief and u r making that adjustment while u r with them. But otherwise u r sticking to ur belief while u r living by urself (and ur hubby). Not causing any inconvenience to others. Fair enuff. So chill…

    • Pepper said

      Wearing a ring is not bad or uncomfortable in any way. I wear a ring too, just not my engagement ring though 😛
      Yes, the relationship is always in your mind and that security is sufficient.

      I don’t live with my in laws and the charade lasts only for a few weeks, which is exactly why it works. If we did live together, or even close by, I don’t know how it would work out. But you’re right in all that you say. I guess I just think too much.

  12. Swaram said

    No! U are not. Hugs!

  13. Tanishka said

    This is not cheating pepper… You are not hurting anyone so you don’t need to feel guilty about it… It works for you and for her too so there is nothing wrong about it…

  14. DI said

    🙂 Such a common dilemma you know! I think it arises more when you happen to visit only once in a while, and need to make that impression then 😀 No way are you a cheat, you are just being a sweet DIL trying to keep ur MIL happy!
    However, if, you guys ever start staying together for longer periods, thats when it would be better to come clean, because putting up a farce for too long is not cool!
    Till then, chill 😀

    • Pepper said

      Exactly my point. Putting up a farce for too long is not cool, and not feasible. So yeah, if at all we do live together for longer periods, I’ll have to find a way to come clean. For now, that can wait 🙂

  15. Titaxy said

    I don’t know. I haven’t been in such a situation yet, so can’t say much. But I think I will do what you are doing, if and when it happens. Just so I don’t insult their sentiments and such.

  16. Saritha said

    No you are not cheat,infact you are concerned for other feelings.By wearing thali in india you want to make your people happy.In india i have seen people wear thali even when they are wearing western outfits,which doesnt match well.But when u r leaving outside india it is not possible to wear it for all the outfits that too when u r working it doesnt goes well.

    Our bond does not need to be testified by a shiny piece of metal—i fully agree with you….

    My m-law is least bothered,when i was out of india i hardly used to wear it.Now that i am in india i am wearing it.Now i am planning to make it thinner as i don’t like the thick chain.

    • Pepper said

      As long as you are happy and comfortable wearing it, there isn’t any problem..It isn’t only about how well it goes with your outfits, it’s also about how emotionally attached to it you are, isn’t it?

      I wanted mine to be thinner as well. But my MIL said thin ones are not durable, and insisted we went ahead with the thick chain.

  17. I think we all do it some way. And our parents did too, I would say, during their time but in different ways.

    My MIL wears a saree everyday and changes into a nightie only at night before sleeping. I, on the other hand, wore only pyjamas and tops and such the whole day! She left it on me to decide.

    Our thaali is like yours, only a tad lighter maybe. And I wore it only during festivals and whenever we went to temples and such. But MIL never told me anything about it. She left it to my discretion.

    My thaali-wearing changed immensely when I had the neck pain and to avoid anymore hurt, I gave up wearing it completely until I knew I was gonna be fine with it. Even then, MIL never told me anything.

    And sometimes, their not-telling-anything itself used to bother me – thinking maybe they are not happy about something and they’re just not telling anything. But its a good thing they dont tell me much and let me decide. And for that I’m grateful.

    But yeah, when it does come up maybe you can try telling her and see how it goes. Ultimately, she has to know the kind of person you really are.

    Hugs!

    • Pepper said

      Yes, my MIL wears only saris everyday too, but she left the dressing to me. She is fully aware I wear only jeans and tees and tracks pants, etc. She has let go of things she can let go of. But this thali is very important to them, and that is why I get caught in guilt.

      Yes maybe I can try telling her when the time is right.

      Thanks for the hugs! 🙂

  18. mahes said

    Delurking 🙂
    You are a really sweet person trying to make your MIL happy. I am in the same exact situation except MIL is coming here for 6 months. I am tamil but I do not wear my Thaali here, I wear it only when I visit India. My MIL would faint if only she knows her DIL does not wear her Thaali. My mom and all my relatives wear it constantly and they have never ever removed it. Mom is okay with me not wearing it. I am planning to come clean when my MIL visits, I know she will be heart broken but hopefully she’ll get over it. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    Btw, such a lovely blog and you write so well.

    • Pepper said

      Thanks for delurking Mahes. Your MIL is coming for 6 months? That’s a long period. Guess this would be the best time to tell her you don’t wear it. Please do let me know how that went. I could do with some advice. Good luck and thanks for those nice words 🙂

  19. Kanagu said

    There are few things we always do/say few lies just for the sake of people whom we do not want to hurt at any time.. so its not a bad thing at all.. 🙂 🙂 by fighting with them only the problem will arise… its better o wear it for few days and keep the things smooth 🙂

  20. okay, +1 on “You are DEFINITELY not a cheat”. And like comfy said, not every battle is ours to fight. I don’t like the thaali. I rarely wear it at home(im tamil too, so totally get the long gold chain + pendant in the centre :D) but I’ve always worn a gold chain and i just substituted it with this.

    I do take care to wear it at all times when I’m with my parents-in-law. It doesn’t interfere with my routine, and it’s not a thing on my mind, so I leave it be. V has this irritating habit of pretending to choke up and he also imitates a dying person when I’m searching for the thing in the morning, but if he were to die every time i removed it, he’ll be an extra concentrated ghost or something.

    The important point is that you are considerate. so chill 🙂

    if you are thinking about what’ll do if you have to live close by.. write another post, we’ll put our heads together and get a magic solution. another day, another battle 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Oh.. I didn’t even know the thali is supposed to protect the husband from death 😀 ..
      So yeah, if you’re used to having a gold chain on, it works well. Then you might as well just wear the thali. I am not the kinds to rebel just for the sake of it.

      Yep, if at all we gotta live together, another post will be written, and you wonderful guys can put your heads together for me 🙂

      • no, no, it doesn’t protect the husband or anything. it’s supposed to be a symbol of the husband being alive and thriving 😛 so every time someone removes it, it actually symbolizes the death of the partner 😀 warped people, no?

        and you know, the ancient(and sensible) tamil tradition says no to thaali and any form of “symbols”. and “arranged” marriages were frowned upon! We’ve actually been deteriorating 😀

        • Pepper said

          Very warped, really!

          Seriously??? Ancient tam culture actually says no to such symbols of marriage and arranged marriages were actually frowned upon? This is too good to be true. I am going to do some googling. We would’v been better off being born hundreds of years ago 😛

          And then I wonder why our society has to be so regressive?

          • try searching for “sangam age”,” 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD”. That was Tamil Nadu’s golden time for women & equality. Things started going downhill from 3rd century to 6th century. It was called the dark age. Funny thing is the good kings came to power after 6th century..things started going back to the old good ways..art and literature flourished..but curiously, women’s status wasn’t restored.

  21. binpin said

    Been reading you for a couple of months..Love your heartwarming posts:).You are not a cheat or it doesnt say anything about your thinking. I admire you for keeping the Peace:) , I would have done the same most likely:). Maybe over time, you can tell her and she will not be so bothered about it:)

  22. I do not think you ought to be guilty, you doing something for the sake of someone else and I can only appreciated it. People who do believe in Mangalsutra can wear it, and those who not need not wear it. Its fairly simple actually…

  23. I personally feel the guilt you feel is unwarranted and should be dismissed. What you are doing is not cheating but respecting another’s sentiments and value. Since you are just couple of week’s in India and enact it to make them happy, there is no question of guilt associated with it. In other hand, if you are in India and happen to be always around them, then yes, you might have to explain your position and in due course of time they might accept it too when they realize the person you are is not in any way related to your view of the gold metal. But in a short period of visit, you won’t have time to convince them nor they be in a mental state to accept it and they might rather be bothered or concerned about both of you since they don’t see you often. So shed away the guilt, be happy the way you are and the way you are making them happy 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Yes, precisely. I’d want them to realise that the person I am is not in any way related to my view of the gold metal. On the other hand, it was never about some gold metal for them. It was about the sacred symbol of marriage.

      I agree, my visits are too short to bring up such topics and create an unpleasant environment. So for now I will just do as you guys say, shed away the guilt and be happy 🙂

  24. S said

    Ok I don’t have any suggestions to offer.. since I have not been in *such* shoes..

    Being comfortable in your skin doesn’t make u a cheat! And she’d sure understand that in time.

  25. There are some things that people will never understand and by bowing to their wishes, you are only being considerate, not cheating them. Besides, this isn’t such a huge thing after all. Like someone said, pick your battles 😀 Besides, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, right? I do this sometimes (though I’m trying subtly to let it slip by once in a while, a form of conditioning, if you like. Especially since you don’t live with the ILs, it’s not worth the bad blood something so small may cause…especially if it doesn’t bother you to wear it for a few days. Just my two cents!

  26. meandmythinkingcap said

    You arent cheating, you are respecting their wishes. You can be honest and visit them bareneck and that doesnt come single, it comes with “arrogant/rude” tag as well. It is the way you want to look at things.We cant make them understand and if we try we get different labels and it becomes hot topic for gossip.
    During initial days of marriage I was quite amused to wear it all time, but later I started to get wounds -mine is sharp and design is not like a pendant and definitely not suitable for everyday wear and tear. And my hubby was ok with tht, he said “it is not that chain which bonds us together”.
    And I care about my husband and kids and not the ones who look for every single oppurtunity to judge and give a label for every petty action or even sneeze of mine. I blame the movies, they have attached some code of conduct with this thali.

    • Pepper said

      Oh, getting wounds must be bad! Yes, it doesn’t make sense to have it on in that case. People will judge no matter what. We got to learn to live with it 🙂

  27. Div said

    Hi,

    Came to your blog through another blog. I dont think you are cheating. Its nice that you are thinking of not hurting their feelings.

    I can identify with what you have written about the thali being a Tamil gal myself. My mom used it wear it but I have seen her remove it at times. She has 2 versions , the smaller one which she wears regularly and the other bigger one that she wears to funtions and stuff.

    I married a Telugu guy and their thali is very differnt. It has several gold pieces hanging to the chain and its HUGE….Its not practical to wear it everyday and go to work. My in-laws outrightly refused to change to a smaller one since they dont have that concept. Basically I was supposed to wear this for life..

    When I was in India, I used to wear my toe-rings and carry my thali in my purse so in case of any unexpected visit I could slip it on quickly. 🙂 🙂 I was always scared that I would get caught.

    Now we are in the US and I think they may know that I dont wear it. They did ask their son about it and he said ‘I do wear it’ (even though they saw a photo where it was very obvious that I was not wearing it).

    After 5 yrs of courtship I did not need a gold chain to tell me that I am bonded for life 🙂 Something my in laws would not understand.

    Sorry for the long post. It was such a deja vu !!!

    • Pepper said

      Hey Div! Welcome here
      I could totally relate to all that you said. I carry my thaali in my handbag too, so that I can slip it on in case we bump into someone unexpectedly.
      Being here in the US makes it very easy for us to live the way we want.. It’s good that they suspect you dont wear it. There wont be too many surprises when they find out.
      I love long comments, no apologies please 🙂

  28. priyaiyer said

    Coming from a conservative Tam-Brahm family and being married into one too, I totally understand where you are coming from. I went through this myself. In the initial period, I used to love wearing sindoor and my thali and toe rings. I just loved it and the relatives were happy. 🙂 Later though, I started realising that it’s practically very uncomfortable wearing the thali all the time. It clashes with my outfits, and its just too pokey at times. So I stopped wearing it. There have been a lot of chain snatching incidents in our locality, so the in-laws are also fine if I don’t wear it. The better half doesn’t care either which way. I do wear my thali when I go for marriages and all. I don’t believe that such ‘symbols’ would add to the life of our relationship, so it has nt been a personal struggle..Plus we don’t stay with the in-laws. I do wear my toe rings,just because I like wearing them – no other significance. 🙂 So far haven’t run into serious problems over me not wearing the thali – touchwood.

    I don’t think you’re cheating. I think you’re just being considerate.

    • Pepper said

      Yeah! The thali is uncomfortable, it pokes and it is a total clash with the other outfits. Those are reasons enough to not wear it.. I guess the chain snatching gave you a very valid reason to stop 🙂
      I like toe rings too 🙂 So that is okay.

  29. Gypsy said

    Hi Pepper 🙂

    Just chanced upon your blog!! I love the way you write
    As for the thali thing, i so knnooow what you mean! I didnt live with the in laws initially and ussed to do the wearing only when i go there thing!!

    But now i live with them.. I kept up the wearing for a few days and couldn’t deal with it any longer!! I then removed it and told them i would wear it on all occassions that was important to them!! So if their relatives come or any function happens, i end up slipping it 😀 They didn’t like it, not one bit at first.. But i guess they got used to it, especially after they realised i was making an effort to ensure that i wear it on important days!

    I hate how it pokes and more importantly i hate the bling of gold:D

    • Pepper said

      So glad to hear that your in laws have finally come to terms with you not wearing it. It’s such a relief. 🙂
      I absolutely hate the bling too.. 😀

  30. […] the blog world, I found posts that echoed my thoughts about worshipping while menstruating and the dilemma of wearing a mangalsutra or not (which I never wrote about though it bothered me). I found posts about the everyday frustrations […]

  31. Seema said

    Hey Pepper,
    Stumbled on your post yday and just cant seem to stop reading. Can relate to you in so many ways esp marrying the tamil guy and the messy house and laziness(all my traits).
    Like you my in-laws are also very traditional where as I never even bother wearing a bindi or combing my hair for that matter, the messier the better 🙂
    I used to do what you did–be traditional when i visited them.
    But last year my in-laws came to stay with us in US and I was my own self, in pyjamas, no bindins, no thali, nothing and my MIL did not mind at all.
    I know it will be difficult when I go to stay with them because they will be more concerned abt society but atleast that’s a start.
    Once you start living together slwoly you will be able to get in your views and No, it’s not cheating at all, it’s caring 🙂

    • Pepper said

      It’s great that your in laws got to see you in your true state. 🙂 My in laws plan to visit soon too and I am already wondering how I will go about it all. I know for a matter of fact that my in laws WILL mind me not wearing the thali 😦 ..So I will have to confront them and I dread it.

  32. hAAthi said

    I dont wear my thali, mostly because Im lucky my in laws never insisted. When I decided to get married, I hadnt considered all these complicated possibilities, and I think I just got lucky 😛 But yes if not the thali, there are other things I can never do in front of my in laws. I gave up wearing shorts/skirts and anything “revealing” and that they would consider not “modest”, for the two years that we lived with them. They have this obsession of making girls eat, constantly insisting that what I eat is never enough, forcing me to believe Im on an unhealthy diet. For the longest time I quietly endured, listened, often stuffed my fce with that little extra food they woudl force me to eat. Until one day I spoke up, because I couldnt take it anymore. The shorts, I still havent overcome. Its easy now becuase we live in separate cities, so I just endure the covered up clothes when they are around. But yes, there are so many sides of me they are unaware of, and I wish sometimes I just had the balls to be me, and let them deal with it. Afterall I know the husband doesnt care. He has always told me to be myself and not settle for anything less. It is me and my stupid complexes that stop me. I think its an underlying feeling of being inadequate or not meeting up to *their* idea of the perfect girl. Since they werent the ones to expertly pick me form a bevy of women.. *groannn*

    • Pepper said

      You lived with your in laws for 2 years? My respect! I don’t mean to say your in laws, or any other parents in law in general are bad. It’s just that, adjusting to their ways is such hard work.
      Tell me about it. I have often wished I had the balls to be myself in front of them. Mint encourages me to do that all the time. I think ultimately like you say, its “our complexes” that really prevent us from doing so. Somehow at times I feel guilty for not being who they want me to be, and I think that is where the problem lies. Sigh.

  33. MoRS said

    God! Aren’t we all on the same boat. My MIL asked me to wear sindoor everyday on the first day of marriage. I was an order. But I don’t wear it. Again, not because it is sexist, but because I really don’t like putting some powder in my hair everyday! Also clashes with my western outfits. So, I just wear it when she is around. I did go on some guilt trips like you initially. But now I am over it. And sometimes, I skip it even when she is around now 🙂

  34. Jack Point said

    This is a very late response, but just my two cents:

    “So I continue to deceive the in laws. And continue to battle the guilt. Will I have the courage to stand up for what I believe in some day? ”

    Why do you think of it as deceit?

    I think you are being very courteous. You are being mindful of their feelings and extending the courtesy of wearing a Thali in their presence.

    Similar to wearing a jacket to a smart restaurant when someone is hosting you, so as not to embarrass your host, although you would rather be in a T shirt and jeans.

  35. mostlymisfit said

    We had a huge discussion about the mangalsutra bit just before we got married. I don’t believe in it one bit and didn’t want to wear it. Plus we did a register marriage. My maternal grandma wanted to give me one but my mom advised her against it letting her know that I am completely against it. And then my mom-in-law dropped the bomb. She asked me to wear it just for 5 mins during the reception so that her mother would feel good. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, especially since I had told my own grandma I wouldn’t. I told her I didn’t feel right about doing it for someone when not only did I not believe in it but felt strongly against it. My parents asked me to let go and just do it, but I felt too bad.

    Later my husband told her that we had all decided together to do away with all of this and it wasn’t fair to ask a person to do it just because you changed your mind. The sweetest person that my mom-in-law is, she called me and asked me not to worry. She said we’d stick to our plan of not sticking to anything traditionally associated with a marriage.

    I hope you and husband find a way for your in laws to understand your discomfort with it. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I do wish we had spoken about it earlier too. At that time, I think we were just in a rush to get parental approval and all other things seemed insignificant. Well, I am not really living in any discomfort to be honest, because I don’t have to live with my inlaws. But at some point, I am sure I am going to convey my resistance to them 🙂

      • mostlymisfit said

        I know! In the end it’s just about how strongly you feel about something. And we all feel differently about different things. Mangalsutra was a no compromise to me but I compromised in having a wedding reception. I wanted to just sign in front of close family only. But both sets of parents wanted to have a reception at least. So we gave in as we didn’t oppose the idea as strongly. 🙂

  36. rita said

    I was born and raised NYC, I have been wearing my thali, toerings for 10 years now, I wear stilettos, pointy shoes, etc. I also wear suits and work in the heart the financial district in NYC – you know the fashion capital of the world.

    I’ve done just fine for myself. I get the sexist part. But putting on the thali for face value is hypocritical and cowardice in my opinion. Believe in it or don’t. But be yourself. If you can’t help your mother in law understand your sentiments then put the thing on. Pick a side and stick to it. That’s just me though.

    • Pepper said

      I do agree with you. I’ve often thought I am quite hypocritical and cowardly myself. I’m learning to pick a side though… I suppose the next time I’m with the inlaws I’ll let them know I don’t wear (nor do I intend to) wear the thali.

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