Outlawed by in-law

I had often tried to show my righteous indignation at this mudslinging.

Whatever might be the shortcomings in my physical attributes, I took pride in my broad shoulders that could nestle human heads of any dimensions or configurations.

And on that gloomy Saturday, my school buddy Somu was using this attribute of mine to the hilt by laying his head on my shoulder and shedding tears in bucketfuls.

I patted his head and said, “There...there,” trying to console him.If I told you that Somu’s misery sprang from the fact that his mother-in-law was going to visit his house, you might consider consigning him to the loony bin. But you would surely dither if you learnt that her latest visit was the ninth one in last six months. Therefore, I couldn’t blame Somu for his lachrymose disposition when he was the victim of such an affront on his sensibilities.

Well, I must shamelessly confess that Somu sought my counsel because I had acquired a certain notoriety in our neighbourhood as a valiant mother-in-law tamer and a highly decorated old warhorse capable of battling an army of mothers-in-law. But this was merely a slander born of the notion that it was one of my crafty schemes that terminated my mother-in-law’s frequent visits to my house.

Even a whispering campaign had been set in motion that accused me of mastering tantric skills to exorcise trespassing mothers-in-law from their haunts. I had often tried to show my righteous indignation at this mudslinging, whenever someone broached the subject. But it hardly made a dent in their belief that I was a devil incarnate. My explanation, that the sudden cessation of my mother-in-law’s visit was due to the crippling rheumatism that immobilised her back home, didn’t cut much ice with my tormentors.

“My life’s rhythm has gone completely haywire.” complained Somu. “For instance, each day she pips me at the post by a fraction of a second in our race to the shower. And once she gets in, I have to put the fear of mice into her, to prise her out. To a stranger, it sounded petty. But knowing Somu, I could empathise with his tortured soul. So, I tut-tutted in sympathy.

Then, without going into further evidences of harassment, I asked him what made his mother-in-law come rushing in so often. “She herself has a nagging mother-in-law.” said Somu, letting me into a family secret. “It is to escape from her tirades that my mother-in-law comes rushing in.”

Just as I was promising Somu that I would devote my best thought to his problem so that by Monday morning I would have a solution cut and dried, the doorbell tootled. I opened the door. On the doorsteps stood my dear mother-in-law grinning from ear to ear. Looking at her, it was patent that some quack had cured her of her rheumatism through some unpatented ‘chyavanprash.’


As I touched her feet in obeisance, Somu made a quiet exit realising that the solution to his problem lay elsewhere.

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