I come from a largely North Indian family, growing up amidst loud relatives, big weddings, and bigger meals. I won’t deny that growing up was a frenzied, albeit pretty enjoyable experience. In my home, tears were as welcome as giggles were. My siblings and I were raised with the idea that communication is very important. My parents, though outrageously modern at times, were pretty traditional too. While we were being encouraged to become young adults with minds of our own, we were also discouraged from saying and doing a lot of things. My folks did care about society at large. They were by no means signing up to raise delinquents (which, according to them, we would become if we didn’t abide by the rules they had set for us). We had rules set for us when it came to boys, and dating, and short skirts, and deadlines – hopefully, you get the drift. I love my parents, and I’d like to think I turned out just fine, but sometimes I couldn’t bear these weird and confusing rules and guidelines. Besides, why do people care about pleasing society? I don’t understand how anyone else matters, as long as my parents know what I’m up to and trust me, right?! (PS: I was a good student)
Sometimes, I rebelled and had things my way. Sometimes, that didn’t work out so well. Sometimes, I kept secrets from them just because I knew they wouldn’t approve of something. For instance, I only told them about my boyfriend when we were so done with keeping our relationship a secret (one hella long phase that was) and had decided to tie the knot.
Now, enter the in-laws. They could be considered quite the opposite of my folks. Known to be rebels even back when they were young (they too had had a love marriage), neither are they North Indian, nor loud. I was very excited about marrying into that family. Both my in-laws work and have a very modern outlook towards life. They share a common love for travel, are simple in their ways, and they aren’t the kind to show off at all. The last thing that would bother them was something a relative of theirs said or did. I was actually excited to experience this new way of life – similar to what I yearned to have in my growing years.
After getting married, I missed my own family terribly as I was getting to know my new one. I thought the newlywed phase would be a pleasurable and exciting one, despite the fact that I really missed my old life. But my new family was either too busy or too understated to express a lot of things. I was perplexed and thought to myself, “Well, this is new!” I was so used to an over-communicative and over-involved family that this minimalistic and quiet approach took time to get used to. I would almost feel like: why is everyone so silent? Is there a problem here? But soon I realized that I was missing the noise I was so used to. And though I appreciated the unabashed acceptance from my in-laws (they didn’t try to change a single thing about me or my life), I really couldn’t get on board with their simplicity at times. While everything was seemingly uncomplicated, it was also bland. There were no arguments, no secrets, no impromptu plans, no gossiping about anyone, and no disagreements. It felt like there was no family bonding!
That’s when it dawned on me. I had kept thinking they are the opposite of my family without realizing that they were opposite in every way possible! And while I truly appreciate some of their ways, some others are taking me time to get used to. I now smile when my parents indulge in family gossip, and I want to hug them tight when they insist on knowing about my day or mundane details of every meal I consumed. On the other hand, I watch in awe as my in-laws gracefully avoid drama and family politics, but I also cringe when they seem disinterested in a lot of things.