Faryal Makdoom’s recent outburst aimed at her in-laws has caused much furore amongst people and has seen a somewhat mixed reaction. The usual mutterings ofcourse that private family matters should stay private whilst others applaud her for actions that very much go against Pakistani culture.
If true, I can’t say it causes me to raise eyebrows and if true then yes, I applaud her for being brave enough to break the silence that surrounds this issue. For many of us who married into traditional Pakistani families, to be treated like a second rate citizen is very much part of the package. When many think of abuse, we don’t particularly associate it with in-laws. The reality is that there is a sinister control element which exists within our culture that trickles down from generations above.
I’ve had my fair share to say about my ex-inlaws in my blog. My MIL is probably one of the most difficult people I’ve encountered in my life to date. I suffered plenty of humiliation at their hands; from my MIL insinuating to people I was upto no good when I was coming home late from the mosque during Ramadan, my father in law telling my ex to kick me out and they would find him another to the magic moment when my MIL walked out of my brother’s wedding, telling everyone she could on the way out that I had shamed her by walking past her.
Yet despite all this, I can now also acknowledge my own failings. Their actions caused me to become bitter and my bitterness prevented me from interacting with them on a level I should have. My heart closed to them with each hurt I felt which in turn caused them to hurt me more. If I could do it all over again, I would change plenty of things. I can’t but I can learn from it. Parents are a package deal in marriage (on both sides) so if they don’t want me in their family, I don’t intend to fight to be in it. I’d rather wait it out for the family that will welcome me with love.
I hid all the difficulties like the good Pakistani daughter in-law I was trying to be. Despite my MIL not having spoken to me properly for years, when asked how she was, I would give a polite reply to people and feign some benign story about my in-laws. I was brought up not to air dirty laundry in public. There were plenty times I would have loved to blast them on facebook and let the world know what God awful people they were but even back then, it seemed to lack class so I sucked it up and got on with it. Maybe there was a better way Faryal could have spoken about it, maybe she shouldn’t have spoken at all. Whatever side you’re on, the stark reality is that we do have a problem and there aren’t many people willing to speak up about it. That in itself is the problem.