The day her son, John Peter, secured a well paid job, his mother Sarah set her mind on acquiring a daughter-in-law.

“What’s the hurry? Let me stabilize in my job, Mummy,” John had said.

“Nothing doing. I want a third member in the house, that’s that …”.

Mr. and Mrs. Roberts have been known to Sarah even before her husband’s death. Then one day, she saw an young woman sitting between them in the church.. Sarah guessed that she must be their daughter. How come she never knew that the Roberts had a daughter! Now something sparked inside her. “Could she be … could she be…” The thought kept reverberating in her ears.

After that morning service, she called her son John and enquired about the girl she had sighted a little earlier. “You know her?” “Of course, mummy, she is Pinky Roberts. She was a member of our youth group. Now that she had finished her studies she has started attending the worship service along with her parents…”

Sarah was surprised that John knew so much about her. “How do you like Pinky Roberts, John?”

“She is a nice girl, mummy. Very active and smart, a good singer. She plays the piano very well.,”

Mother’s next question shook him to the hilt. “Oh! I see. Would you like to marry her?”

John never considered her that way at all. The Methodist church never encouraged any kind of unwarranted relationship among its youth. The pastor was very strict in this regard. The moment a boy or a girl exceeded the limit of decent behaviour, he would get in touch with the parents and nip the relationship right in the bud.

So, just now John started analyzing her from a new angle. Pinky had just completed her MBA after her engineering degree. Was she looking for a job? He didn’t know.

Marriage? Marriage…..?” Then he suddenly remembered that Mummy was out to get him married. Sending the ball back in her court John asked, “Do you like her, mummy?”

Sarah wanted to say, ‘Yes, although a little haughty.’ But she ultimately pronounced, “Yes, I like her a lot..”

“Them, it’s OK with me, mummy.”

Well, that’s all the mother wanted to know. “So, Pinky will be the third member in my house. Will she have a boy friend of sorts?”.

The Roberts were only too happy at the proposed alliance. “I don’t know if Pinky likes John?” Mrs. Robert wanted to know. “Why don’t you ask her this evening after she returns home?” “Sure”.

The mother came straight to the point. Yet she had to be tactful with Pinky remembering that she wasn’t a school girl anymore but a mature engineer and manager. “Isn’t it time you thought of marriage, Pinky?” the mother started as a preamble.

Like she had already planned her future she asked, “Have you got someone in mind or what?” she shot back.

“Yes, John Peter.”

“Oh John Peter, Yes, a lovable person, I think…..”

Mother’s next homily made her heart rev at top speed. “Are you willing to marry him, Pinky”? This was an unexpected bombshell.

Yes, “As your future husband…” the mother added as Pinky was found to be deliberating on the question.

All at once Pinky went pink on her face. A shade of bashfulness enveloped her whole body. She chuckled to herself a little pleasurably.

“Did he propose to me, Mamma?’

“Yes, John’s parents did. What do you say, my sweet child?”

After several seconds Pinky said, “OK Mummy and Papa…” From then onwards her mind would think of nothing else but John and his face.

One evening, Mrs. Sarah Peter and John Peter called at the Roberts and formally sought Pinky’s hand for her son. Pinky was in the next room and the father summoned her into the living room. Walking slowly with her head hung low, Pinky joined the group. “Hullo Pinky, come sit next to me,” Sarah invited the young thing. Caressing her face, Sarah enquired, “OK or not?”

“OK,” she said firmly. Sarah collected Pinky’s face and planted a hard kiss on her right cheek. “I am glad to hear it, my child.”

Since both candidates were available readily, they talked in terms of marriage day rather than an engagement ceremony. “What for, anyway?” Mrs. Roberts observed.

John Peter and Pinky Roberts became husband and wife exactly two weeks from then and after the next 48 hours, Pinky moved into Peter’s home bag and baggage.

Mrs. Robert’s final advice to her daughter was, “Protect your honour, my child. Don’t let your mother- in- law dominate over you, understand?” She happened to be a victim of the DIL- MIL syndrome herself during her early days. She didn’t want her daughter to be humiliated by Mrs. Sarah Peter.

Everything was dinky dory during the first week. Pinky called her MIL by the title “Athai” in Tamil. A good rapport had already established itself between the DIL and MIL.

Pinky and John were in a world of their own. They went out almost daily, ate in restaurants, saw movies and returned home invariably late. Sarah didn’t mind it all. “Young things. Let them enjoy themselves,” she opined.

Then after some ten days, John had rejoined his work after his short holiday. Much to her horror, Sarah discovered that Pinky knew nothing about the kitchen routine or about house administration. “In her own interest, she must be masters in these,’ Sarah reflected and put Pinky on a training schedule which Pinky didn’t like. Often she showed a dissenting face whenever her MIL summoned her for some work or the other. “She is trying to boss over me,” Pinky felt and cried quietly.

“All these are for your own good, Pinky,” the MIL encouraged her silently. “Someday you have to take over the complete house running on your shoulder, don’t you see?”

Pinky didn’t see. She was getting bitter and bitter. Did she marry John only to hear negative thoughts about her own abilities? Why can’t Athai mind her own business and leave her alone?”

The battle royal had been set in motion. Pinky decided to apply for a job so that she could be away from the accusing eyes of her MIL. Would John agree? She wondered.

Pinky’s mind became a devil’s workshop soon. She recalled her own mother’s parting advice. “What does Sara think of herself?” she debated.

“Am I not the Princess of this house…?”

The MIL and DIL talked very little with each other during the day. Pinky spent all her time reading something or the other while her mind was making plans to sort out the MIL. It was the MIL who prepared all the meals.

“Does Pinky know cooking?” “No.” Her mother never initiated Pinky into the art of cooking. Why should an engineer learn cooking anyway?”

A silent war stood declared now. Pinky didn’t like her MIL’s ways at all and in particular her attitude towards the younger generation. If left to herself, Pinky knew how to administer the house. After all she was an MBA. What need for a mother in law in the house? Why not send her away to some old people’s home so that she and John could be all by themselves in the house. Her mind was made up.

Sarah was too shrewd a mother and mother in law. She knew what exactly was brewing in Pinky’s mind. “Is she trying to get rid of me? She will know my value only when I am gone. But I am not going to go away that soon and so I want all the three of us to live happily in this house…”

Sarah thought of a plan. She would make Pinky read that Li-Li story. A better sense would dawn on her then. She herself was very fascinated at the Li-Li story. So, she placed the three paged story in a nice folder in Pinky’s room. Pinky’s eyes would spot the green folder one day and it did, and Pinky read it with some eagerness since it suited her present predicament.

Li – Li and her mother in law

Once upon a time in China, a girl named Li-Li got married and went to live with her husband and mother-in-law. In a very short time, Li-Li found that she couldn’t get along with her mother-in-law at all. Their personalities were very different, and Li-Li was angered by many of her mother-in-law’s habits. In addition, she criticized Li-Li constantly. Days passed, and weeks passed. Li-Li and her mother-in-law never stopped arguing and fighting. But what made the situation even worse was that, according to ancient Chinese tradition, Li-Li had to bow to her mother-in-law and obey her every wish. All the anger and unhappiness in the house was causing Li-Li’s poor husband great distress.

Finally, Li-Li could not stand her mother-in-law’s bad temper and dictatorship any longer, and she decided to do something about it. Li-Li went to see her father’s good friend, Mr. Huang, who sold herbs. She told him the situation and asked if he would give her some poison so that she could solve the problem once and for all. Mr. Huang thought for awhile, and finally said, “Li-Li, I will help you solve your problem, but you must listen to me and obey what I tell you.”

Li-Li said, “Yes, Mr. Huang, I will do whatever you tell me to do.” Mr. Huang went into the back room, and returned in a few minutes with a package of herbs. He told Li-Li, “You can’t use a quick-acting poison to get rid of your mother-in-law, because that would cause people to become suspicious. Therefore, I have given you a number of herbs that will slowly build up poison in her body. Every other day prepare some delicious meal and put a little of these herbs in her serving. Now, in order to make sure that nobody suspects you, when she dies, you must be very careful to act very friendly towards her. “Don’t argue with her, obey her every wish, and treat her like a queen.” Li-Li was so happy. She thanked Mr. Huang and hurried home to start her plot of murdering her mother-in-law.

Weeks went by, and months went by, and every other day, Li-Li served the specially treated food to her mother-in-law. She remembered what Mr. Huang had said about avoiding suspicion, so she controlled her temper, obeyed her mother-in-law, and treated her like her own mother. After six months had passed, the whole household had changed. Li-Li had practiced controlling her temper so much that she found that she almost never got mad or upset. She hadn’t had an argument with her mother-in-law in six months because she now seemed much kinder and easier to get along with.

The mother-in-law’s attitude toward Li-Li changed, and she began to love Li-Li like her own daughter. She kept telling friends and relatives that Li-Li was the best daughter-in-law one could ever find. Li-Li and her mother-in-law were now treating each other like a real mother and daughter. Li-Li’s husband was very happy to see what was happening. One day, Li-Li came to see Mr. Huang and asked for his help again She said, “Dear Mr. Huang, please help me to keep off the poison from killing my mother-in-law. She’s changed into such a nice woman, and I love her like my own mother. I do not want her to die because of the poison I gave her.”

Mr. Huang smiled and nodded his head. “Li-Li, there’s nothing to worry about. I never gave you any poison. The herbs I gave you were vitamins to improve her health. The only poison was in your mind and your attitude toward her, but that has been all washed away by the love which you gave to her.”

There is a wise Chinese saying: “The person who loves others will also be loved in return.” God might be trying to work in another person’s life through you.

Spread the POWER OF LOVE.

“A candle loses nothing if it is used to light another one.”

The story certainly had moved the raw daughter in law tremendously. Pinky found herself sweating profusely after she had finished reading the Li-Li story. “Mr. Huang is a wise man” she told herself. “Am I in the wrong? Have I been seeing my MIL through coloured glasses?”

“Yes, you have. Indeed, you have been,” her inner voice said.

Pinky slapped her right cheek hard to punish herself. She bashed her left cheek also with the other hand. Then impelled by some invisible force, she ran out of her room to the kitchen. The moment Sarah turned her head to greet Pinky, she charged into her MIL’s arms crying, “Mamma, Mamma.” “I am sorry Mamma, sorry Mamma.” she kept repeating dozens of times.

Sarah Peter stroked her Pinky’s head gently. “Don’t cry, my magazhe, (‘daughter’ in Tamil) I understand. You are my daughter in this house from today. Now, cheer up” and she planted an affectionate kiss on both her cheeks.

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