Saas-bahu discord is clearly a universal phenomenon! If the much-talked-about Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is anything to go by, sasuraals across the globe, irrespective of status in society, look on their bahus with suspicion, and brides the world over are predisposed to be at loggerhead with their in-laws. And preoccupation with white skin is certainly not limited to India either.
While Meghan claimed she was denied help by the Palace, both she and Prince Harry revealed during the interview that a member of the Royal Family had expressed ‘concerns’ about their baby’s complexion.
Homemaker or breaker?
While many women, and progressive woke folk sympathized with Meghan, who shared that she felt miserable being a part of the British royal family and said she had suicidal thoughts while she was pregnant with son Archie, old-timers and die-hard Queen supporters like actor Simi Garewal have called her a ‘liar’ and bashed her for the two-hour tell-all interview. “I do not respect women who come in and break up homes. Families & marriages take years to build trust,” wrote Garewal on Twitter.
Drama or real life?
Actor Pavleen Gujral compares the ongoing royal drama to the Indian joint family scenario, where such bickering is quite common. While noting that “Indians can empathize with this situation right now,” she says, “There is a lot of history attached to this family … we know that Princess Diana was under tremendous pressure as she was an outsider in the royal family, and the same is the case with Meghan Markle. I don’t know if this is entirely dramatic because there has to be some truth to it.” Pavleen also expresses the view that the whole thing was “blown out of proportion and the couple shouldn’t have come out and spoken about it in public.”
No fairy tale
Before their exit from ‘The Firm’, as the Royal Family is known, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were portrayed as the ideal couple by the Palace Public Relations staff. However, the narrative for Meghan changed as soon as the couple moved out of the UK. Mrs India World finalist Simran Taneja, who has completed 16 years of married life, says, “I am disappointed in Harry for not giving her time to see what she was getting into (just like William did with Kate), before putting a ring on. It’s not a fairy tale life, with so much scrutiny and criticism; no wonder Harry’s exes fled.” Sharing her take on marriage, Simran says “When someone gets married into a new household, they have to know a couple of things before having a new set of parents – it’s okay if they are different, don’t compare them to your parents, and appreciate them. Don’t be afraid of hard conversations and disagreements. In brown culture, it’s still taboo to talk about your relationship with in-laws, but the reality is that it takes a lot of adjustments. If we open up conversation on it, we can help each other navigate the rough waters of in-laws relations.”
Many people got a feeling of déjà-vu after seeing the Oprah interview, feeling that the revelations resembled Princess Diana’s life story. Several sympathize with Meghan. Life coach Anamika Yaduvanshi found it painful to listen to the interview, where Meghan shared that she couldn’t adjust to the royal ‘dos and don’ts’ and that she was criticized by the press. Anamika says, “Similarly, in Indian families, we have seen that if a girl is married into an influential family and she comes from a different background or caste, she will have a tough time adjusting to the norms in her husband’s family. They would expect her to talk, eat and dress like them, and represent their culture instead of her roots.”
Designer Seema Goenka of the Woven Art label agrees that the global mindset for new brides is more or less similar across borders. “I feel that this kind of family drama will go down in history as it involves the British crown. I am completely in favor of Meghan Markle as she has recounted whatever she went through and felt during her time with the royals. I do not relate to such incidents personally as I have never gone through such scenarios. However, I have seen strained relationships between new brides and in-laws around me and in our society.”
Change for the better
Although the debate on MILs and DILs is never-ending, the new generation feels there is a change in overall expectations and treatment of brides in many families now. Online influencer Upasana Kochhar notes, “When people of different backgrounds come together, there is bound to be conflict or clash, but escaping it is not a solution. Instead of avoiding obstacles, you need to look them in the eye to nip them in the bud.” According to her, Indian society is changing and the MIL-DIL relationship is evolving. “They are not competing with each other but are complementing each other beautifully. They are completing each other. If you are conditioned to see it as age-old rivalry, that’s what you’ll manifest. But if you treat your in-laws as your second parents, ego won’t interfere and you will be able to embrace them like your own.”