My mother-in-law came to visit the other night, to check out our apartment. It was her first visit. She lives in central Mumbai, and doesn’t get out to the suburbs very often.
As happens in India, she only gave us a couple of hours notice about her impending arrival. My husband had to be at work, leaving me to entertain her by myself.
I was terrified. All my fears about not being good enough, and not being Indian, came to the surface. And how was I going to talk to her? She only speaks a few words of English. I get so self conscious when I have to speak Hindi.
The first thing that she did when she arrived was conduct a thorough inspection of the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator. She also wanted to see if I had any Indian cookbooks. Obviously, her first priority was making sure that her son was being properly fed.
However, I felt surprisingly comfortable with her presence. She’s always joking and laughing. She brought me some fish, marinated in homemade masala (spices) and ready to cook. I could even understand most of what she said. Well, at least I thought I could. Sometimes, I have a habit of making it up if I don’t understand!
She was so funny. She told me how she had learned to say “come here” in English. But then a friend asked her, what if you need to tell someone to “go there”. Her solution? She would go there first, then tell them to come!
I can see where my husband gets his happy nature from.
By the time she left. I really was sad to see her go.