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In-laws

Poornima from Sri Lanka

By Correspondent Poornima Sajani Dodangoda in Western Province, Sri Lanka

– Sun has arisen for another beautiful yet usual day for many others but me. Beautiful it is for me as well but not at all my usual day. Today is that long awaited graduation day. Four years of hard work is finally paid off. “I am a graduate from today onwards, how cool?” I thought.

I wish my father is there to see me graduate. It has been a dream of him ever since I go to nursery. I know he would shed tears of joy today if he is there.  Very emotional person he was. Of course my mother was far more emotional than him. But the tragic accident he faced after ten years of their marriage took away not only his life but also all the tears my mother had. She cried her eyes out at the funeral and days and days after that.  So did us; me and my younger brothers. But one day, my mother stood up from where she was sitting just as she suddenly woke up from a long sleep. Wiped her tears and came to us. “Okay now it is just you all and me at home. But you know father is watching us and will not be happy at all to see us crying. We should make him happy. So go get your things ready to go school tomorrow. ” Now it has been ten years and I never saw her cry and she somehow tricked youngsters to be enthusiastic about studies and sports and everything saying so that father will be happy. Even though just thirteen years old then, being both the eldest and the only daughter of the family, I was a little more matured than she expected. I could not be “tricked” by her. But I too never shed a tear after that, not at least in front of my mother because I did not want her to see me cry. I did not realize then but now understand that it could be the same thing my mother did. She too might have never stopped crying; it may be she just did not let us see her crying.

It is not long before my mother told me the story of their love affair. I was curious about it even before the accident of my father. I never had the guts to ask it from father because mine was not the family that discuss such things in front of children. The situation was same for most of my friends but I also had few friends whose parents were not so traditional I may say and have related their love stories to the children. Even though the love or romance was not so obvious factor between my parents, I knew that how much they cared for and respected each other.  That is why my instinct said that there is a pretty good story to hear about their hidden yet strong love. “Why cannot they tell it already?”I was annoyed. After the death of my father, my mother and I became so close that I could tell her anything just the way I tell my secrets to a best friend. I have talked with her about my friends, the boys I liked and disliked, about my celebrity crushes and almost anything that came into my mind except one thing. That is their story. I did not ask it because I did not want to worsen the slowly healing wound inside her heart.

So I was more than happy when my mother opened her heart to me about their relationship. But it had never been an easy road. All the way down to marriage they have had gone through really tough time winning their parents consent. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents had not been happy to find out about this love affair since then they were still schooling. Even today it is very hard to find a parent or a teacher who approve relationships during teenage. I could never understand why parents do every sort of things to stop or at least to give a break to those relationships  varying from an affectionate yet convincing lecture to  mild punishments ; may be because they do not see a nineteen years old twelfth grader much different from a six years old first grader when they are in school uniform; even at nineteen years of age, they might still see their kids as young and fragile creatures who need constant protection and not mature enough to handle two different disciplines of life yet. But of course, matured or not, young or old, it is not easy to suppress the power of love. Just as many other teen couples who survived any such hard times and happily married, after fiver years my parents also came to a point where each of their parents consented for the marriage except for one.

“My grandma?  You mean my father’s mom right? If so, that is not much difficult to guess”

“Don’t say like that honey, she loves you so much.”

“I am not telling that she is a bad person mom, and I love her too. But she is just… you know, intolerable some times. Anyway what was the reason?”

“Because my family was not as rich as your father’s family. But we had the blessing of all three other parents. Your father insisted on marrying me and finally she gave her word. Your father and his father somehow talked her into it. You know what, at the beginning, it was like a nightmare to live in the same house with her. There was no escape from it either because if we left, then they would be alone there.  But eventually, when you all were born she loosened up. It was just a matter of time she understood me.” I remember my mother said those words with a proud smile in her face.

“Hello there,” A familiar voice drew me back to the university premises.

“Oh hi,”

“You are early. Really excited about the graduation, aren’t you? ”. This is the guy I am in love with.  Even though we are the same batch it took more than a year for us to become even remotely friendly. But later on I found out that he is everything I wanted from a guy and I wanted tell him that so badly.

“Boys don’t like that type of girls.” Those are the first words I heard from my best friend when I told her about my idea. Even though those words made me really angry with her I knew she did not mean any harm. To be honest I myself had doubts about whether it is true. The majority of boys and even girls themselves do not accept it as a proper thing to do. But why restrictions to a girl opening her heart to the one she wants? Why she has to be the one who is being chosen? If a girl takes the first move, why does that make her a bad girl? Does she have to just wait and see her losing the love of her life even without giving it a try? ; And waiting to be picked up by somebody else. I always wondered and it really tormented me. That is why I finally decided. I should not let him slip away from me without at least letting know about my feelings. It was the day of our final examination and I knew it would have to be that day or perhaps never again.

“But I must warn you because even if he has some feelings for you, this road you are about to take itself may ruin everything. What if he also turns out to be one of the majorities who does not approve such an attitude even though he likes everything else about you?” That was my best friend coming up with another tricky question when I told her about what I was planning to do. “Well then I will make up my mind because if it is the way he thinks, he is not my guy in the first place. But from what I know about him, he is not such a narrow-minded person.”

He was there at the gate as if he was expecting me to see him. Without a second’s delay, I went straight to him to tell everything that was in my mind. Well of course he was my guy.  I was just a second later than him and all I had to say was, “I love you too”.

I was more than happy. And also I felt relieved because to be honest I think no matter how determined I was about what I was going to do, in a tiny corner of my mind I still had a little fear of having to go beyond the rules.

But it is all good now and today here we are as a happy couple. Graduation ceremony was truly a success. One sad thing though, after today we never know how many of us fellow batch mates will meet each other again. In spite of all the promises we made to each other obvious truth is that everybody will be busy with their lives and will not have time to meet and get together. But met or not our friendship will be safe in side our hearts because such a bond we all had here in this university.

“Now you are a graduate girl, and I already started finding you a good husband.” That is the first thing to come out of my grandmothers’ mouth when worshiped my grandmother at home after the graduation.

“Oh grandma.  what are you talking about? ”

“Why? Didn’t you hear me? You should get married now, or else you want to get older at home? I have selected grooms from few suitable families. We’ll have to pick one soon.”

“But… ” I became speechless in her presence. How can I tell her that I have already found my future husband?

“Mother, you didn’t tell me either” My mother knowing my secret, came to my defense at once.

“Why? This is my son’s daughter. Can’t I think about the future of my grand children?  I was going to tell you anyway, but I did not get a chance.”

“Of course you can mother, but we should know her wish as well. It is her life.”

“Well, I am not going to force her to marry anybody; we should find suitable gentlemen with good family backgrounds and all; then let her marry the one she likes.”

“Look mother, There is a good boy whom she has a close relationship with, why don’t………” Grandmother never let my mother finish that sentence.

“What? Are you out of your mind?  Is that true? No, No, No I am never going to let her do that.”

“But mother….” I felt really sorry for my mother; she seems helpless trying to defend me. But I was too scared to utter a word.

“How could you let her do that? You taught her to do the same thing as you did.”  Well I could not bear it up anymore. My mother should not be blamed for this.

“No grandma. It is not my mom’s fault. It is just me. She has no involvement in any of it.  Don’t blame her.”

“You keep quiet, this is all her fault.  She led you to do the same thing as she did and also she led my son.”

For the first time in ten years I saw tears running down from my mother’s eyes. It was like as she is beaten at her weakest point. She rushed away into the room and so did I. No matter what I said to console her she was indifferent to it. She just kept on crying. It was like my fathers’ death all over again.

“She still hates me for marrying your father. She has never stopped hating me baby; I thought all are forgotten. But no, she is still has not forgiven me. For the last twenty five years I have treated and respected her better than my own mother. I have been with her longer than I have lived with my own mother. Still she hates me. What am I supposed to do? All these years I have been living in a lie, a total misunderstanding. What did I do so wrong to hate me for a life time? ”

“No mom, grandmother might not have meant it. May be she was just angry with you for not telling her about my affair earlier. ”

I was so disappointed about the way the last few hours of my big day turned out to be. Grandmother is in the veranda with an unusual quietness. For a moment I thought she might be regretting about being so harsh. But that is very unlikely because she has never taken back a word she said in her.  And in the room, there was my mother still sobbing. I prepared dinner and it is served on the table but with nobody had the appetite. My brothers are also wandering here and there trying to figure out a way to cheer up our elders. It is nearly mid night when we surprised to see grandmother standing up and entering to mother’s room.

“Come get your dinner, children are starving.” I heard her saying to my mother in her cold voice.

“Mother, tell me one thing, after all those years, do you still believe I was not good for your son?”

Oh she should not have asked that question. I felt like as if my mother’s life depends on grandmother’s answer to that question. I myself am afraid to hear the answer because I do not want to see my mother being devastated. Few seconds of silence after that question must be the longest period of anticipation of my mother’s life.

“No you were not good for him.” Last thing I wanted to hear but that is the most expected answer. I wish I were there in the room, next to my mother so I could hold her tight without letting her fall apart.

“You were the best thing that could happen to him. I was just too arrogant to admit it earlier.” It was my grandmother’s voice again this time uttering the most unexpected words. “And I know you raised your kids better than I did mine.” She came out of the room and putting her hand on my head told,

“Tell your boy to let us meet his parents.”


Poornima Sajani Dodangoda Poornima Sajani Dodangoda
Poornima is a novice writer and a science undergraduate from Western Province, Sri Lanka who enjoy writing about “realism adorned with a little bit of art”.

The story is built up based on what I have seen and heard in my day-to-day life and also including my own thoughts. It is not that the whole story is a real life experience of one single person.

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