Fiction: The In-laws

Mudasir Gul

Short Fiction


Rehana was an ideal daughter right from her childhood unlike her brother and a sister. Though being the eldest one, she never went against the wishes of her parents nor registered any kind of protest at any time. She was submissive and obeyed every word of her parents. She never demanded anything and was happy with whatever her parents would bring her. But at the same time, she was also deeply religious. In fact, her submission to her parents was because of her knowledge of religious injunctions and their implementations in her life.

Mudasir Gul
Soon after complementing her post graduation in Urdu, she was married to a well-settled boy, Sajad, almost five years elder to her as per the wishes of her parents. Sajad was a JE by profession. Though he offered prayers five times a day and sporting beard, he was not too much religious.

When the couple met for the first time on their wedding night, Rehana was a bit terrified partly out of bashfulness and partly out of obvious reasons. However, her husband showed great regard for her tender feelings and gently put his right hand on her forehead and recited the following prayer as suggested to him by one of his deeply religious friend:
O Allah, I ask You for her good and the good You have placed in her and good on which You created her. I seek refuge from her evil, the evil which is in her and the evil you have created in her.

Rehana felt a bit relaxed and tried to be intimate with her husband. Then both of them made ablution and offered two rakat prayers, and made a lot of supplications before Allah for a good and happy life ahead. Both of them next discussed various things more freely and openly in order to know each other’s temperament and went to bed.

For the next seven days, Rehana was given a very special kind of treatment by her in-laws that she felt as if she was a queen in the house because whatever she wished or desired, it was fulfilled in the next moment. She thanked Allah to bless her with such a kind and loving husband and equally caring in-laws in the form of mother-in-law, father-in-law and sister-in-law. But little did she know that her joy would prove ephemeral.

After spending the most happy and joyous seven days at her in-laws’ house, she was taken back by her parents for some days as is customary in Kashmir to bring one’s daughter after seven days of her marriage from her in-laws to be returned after some days.
When Rehana returned after some days to her in-laws, she felt a sea change in their attitude except her husband. From the next day, her mother-in-law was not only ‘completely severe and harsh’ but also regard her as maid or slave of the house. Even her father-in-law at times frowned at her and tried to awe her.

Her sister-in-law would always take her mother’s side but didn’t directly ill-treat Rehana. It was only her husband in the whole household who would show great regard and love to her and simultaneously try to maintain her position as his wife and member of the family.

In the beginning, Rehana would patiently tolerate each and every ill-treatment of her in-laws and would daily pray before Allah to grant her patience and bestow love and regard in the hearts of her in-laws, especially her mother-in-law towards her. But days passed and things started to get worse. At first, she thought of narrating her genuine woes to her husband but she had no proof of her complaint against her mother-in-law as all of them would behave normally with her in presence of her husband.

A year passed but there was no change in the attitude of her in-laws towards her. Actually, both mother-in-law and father-in-law were ill-advised by a family friend of theirs that they would lose their only son if they gave any kind of relaxation to their daughter-in-law but cautioned them to be normal with their daughter-in-law in presence of their son so that he could not come to know about their strict attitude towards her wife.

This family friend further informed them about the trend of having a nuclear family nowadays and he blamed daughters-in-law as the main cause for it because they don’t want to live under the curbs of in-laws and therefore coax their husbands to set up separate families of their own so that they (daughters-in-law) can enjoy complete freedom and be masters of their own homes.
It was on account of such thinking that Rehana’s in-laws were strict with her and in the process would badly ill-treat her.

In the second year of her married life, when Rehana could not further tolerate the attitude of her in-laws, she reported the matter to her parents and sought their advice. They advised her to bear everything patiently as most of the in-laws would behave like that. They suggested her to somehow make her husband aware about his family’s attitude towards her. If she succeeded in doing that, her husband would himself deal with his family and change their attitude.

From that day onwards, Rehana was always in search of the moment when she could reveal before her husband the real attitude of his family towards her. But each time, she failed.

Four years passed, but there was still no change in the attitude of the in-laws. Meanwhile, Rehana gave birth to a baby boy who was now one and a half year old. During these years, Rehana left her in-laws house twice but returned back each time from her parents’ house as each time her parents persuaded or compelled her to return back by telling her that her husband would be her support very soon.

In the fifth year, Rehana compromised somehow for the time being with the situation at her in-laws mainly because of her baby. But when she found that her baby too suffered because of the ill-treatment of her in-laws towards both of them, she could tolerate no more and committed suicide despite the fact that she knew it was prohibited by her religion.

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