Especially when she barges in holding a screwdriver pointing at you.
First — some context. The inlaws and us live like Siamese twins. Our homes are joined at the hip. The hip is the teen’s room. There is a free passage between both homes as long as the room door is open. If it shuts (and it does often nowadays!), we have to use the main door.
It was just another ordinary day, in spite of the troubled times. Everyone has their chores to do around the house, and everyone was busy.
Suddenly, the bell rang. Since we are in a country-wide lockdown, we were not expecting any visitors. Nor was I about to let anyone come in. So I approached the door cautiously, while mentally preparing my response to whoever I was going to find at the door. I had to be polite, but firm.
I opened the door. I found my mother-in-law. In her hand was a screwdriver. And it was pointing straight at my belly.
She gently told me to move aside. I hopped out of her way in a hurry. One doesn’t mess with a screwdriver wielding mother-in-law.
She headed straight to my balcony. She had come around at some point the previous day and inspected all my plants. Horror of horrors, she found the holy Tulsi plant in a bad state. That is not done! What sort of an Indian woman am I if I cannot nurture one small Tulsi plant.
She had come fully armed to salvage my Tulsi plant.
I told her it was dead. She told me it wasn’t. In fact, she pointed out to me that hidden from my eye was actually a happy and healthy branch on the plant. I accepted my folly at assuming that the plant was dead. Even if there had been no green branch, I would have readily agreed with her.
She had brought along the sharp and shiny screwdriver as a tool to dig the mud around the Tulsi plant, give it some TLC, and a new lease of life.
Job done, she emerged out of the balcony holding the muddy screwdriver. I continued to be extremely polite to her. I did not want to risk muddy becoming bloody.
We engaged in some ordinary conversation. How tough it was to stay cooped in the house, essentials not being available, the state of the world, and so on.
Then she thanked me for the idlis we had given them for breakfast earlier in the day. She said they were nice and soft. I told her that my husband had made them.
It is important to note that through all this, the screwdriver continued to be pointed towards me rather than towards the ground.
She suddenly looked very proud and said, “He is my son after all.”
I agreed with her without missing a beat.
I also told her that if she continues to point that thing at me, I will be forced to agree with everything she says.
We had a hearty laugh and she went home.
Contrary to popular DIL-MIL horror stories, my MIL and I share a good rapport (touch wood). We know our limits and boundaries and share an affectionate camaraderie.