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Fathers-in-law need to sing a soft melody


TSI | Issue Dated: May 13, 2007
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Fathers-in-law need to sing a soft melody Ashok Chakradhar Poet and satirist Fathers-in-law need to sing a soft melody There are two species of father-in-law in our country. The first is the girl’s father-in-law and the second is that of a boy. It is said that if he is not greedy for dowry, the father-in-law considers his daughter-in-law as a daughter. On the other side is the father-in-law of the boy. If he has no son, he can accept his son-in-law as his own son. But if he has his own son and has to uphold their rights, then if he will not consider the son-in-law as a son, he might not consider him an enemy either. Friendly relations between them can exist, provided there remains an appropriate distance. There is a saying that the son-in law living far just comes and goes, the one who lives in the father-in-law’s house is like an ass, which can be harnessed anywhere.

Premchand wrote in Kayakalp, “The bread for a boy tastes sweet in his father-in-law’s house but that corrupts his mind.” These words are applicable on humans, not Gods. The genuine father-in-law, difficult or friendly, is seen when the son-in-law wishes to enter his house and has secret intentions to reside there permanently. For such son-in-laws Kaka Hathrasi has written on behalf of the father-in-law:

Son-in-law is a dangerous creature in this world,

He sucks and destroys his in-laws.

You give him as much as you can, he is never satiated,

Well then, is he a son-in-law or a letter box.

Or a letter box has embraced trouble,

Keep putting in regularly, but it remains vacant.

Kaka Kavi says, father-in-law goes straight to hell,

If while dying, son-in-law appears in front.

This is incredible. You cannot find such hatred in any other culture. The father-in-law goes to hell if son-in-law is present while he is dying. This belief intervenes in the Hindu society even now. I think wealth and inheritance is at the root of it. Even a father-in-law who likes his son-in-law avoids seeing him in his last moments.

To be a father-in-law is entirely different from being a father. As a father, you get your sons as a gift from the Creator whereas, as a father-in-law, it is not gifted but traditional and cultural. The boy who becomes a son-in-law or the girl who becomes a daughter-in-law comes into the family out of necessity. They are truly great, who do not see the difference between the naturally acquired and traditionally acquired, and love the son and the daughter-in-law, and son-in-law, equally. They cover the differences and are like fathers even when not genetically so. In villages, people become fathers-in-law at a young age. Sons-in-law become friends in such cases, but the poor daughter-in-law remains too scared to become friends. Thus comes the ditty, which says that the daughter-in-law is grinding wheat; the son has gone to the fields and the father-in-law is busy puffing away. As the grinding of the wheat nears completion, the father-in-law keeps shifting his cot closer to the daughter-in-law. It is difficult to present the details of the physical crimes which take place within the boundaries of families in our society. Women usually do not speak for sake of the prestige and dignity (often false) of the family. In order to cover up the matter, daughters-in-law often end up covered in shrouds. It is daughters-in-law who commit suicide, not the sons-in-law.

The role of a father-in-law remains important. The father-in-law of a boy remains humane but as one becomes the father-in-law of a girl, it is not known which of our traditions corrupts his mind. I believe that the father-in-law of a girl should be like the one of a boy. If fathers-in-law also believe so, they will reach heaven, if it exists.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017