verboseviju / 7 yrs ago /

When does a father in law change into a father? At his son’s wedding? In a month? In a year? In 24 years….? As far as I am concerned, I can not specify the date of transition when Appa turned from a father in law into a father figure. Normally, according to Tam -Brahm traditions, such transitions don’t take place… One’s ‘Maamanar’ is a person to be feared… a personality in front of whom the DILs rarely stand, let alone dare to sit… a person whom they rarely call Appa… He is supposed to be called Mama in Tamil or Mawa in Kannada. He is someone to whom you can place your requests, through the via media called Mother in Law…
In the last 24 years, I have flouted all these inviolate laws of ‘daughter-in-lawhood’! Not only do I call my father in law, ‘Appa’, I also treat him like one. I tease him, joke with him, fight with him and… I adore him like any daughter would.
24 years back, I just slipped into my new status as I would change into new clothes…easily! My husband left for Iraq exactly 14 days after our wedding and I was literally amidst virtual strangers… For three months, I stayed with my in laws… and may be from day one they became my Appa and Amma.
Looking back on those naïve days of my life, I wonder what Appa must have thought about my casual treatment of him. Once, when he saw me curled up on his sofa, legs tucked under me, he told me, ‘This is the first time someone is doing that in front of me.’ And I remember saying, ‘I always sit like this on a sofa!’ Now, I did not mean to be rude at all… I just reciprocated to his words… He must have been taken aback…
 He took Amma and me to a movie called ‘Dulha Biktha Hai’. All about dowry harassment…During the interval, he asked me what I would have done if he and Amma had harassed me like that… and I quipped, ‘I wouldn’t have married your son…’ I did not realize that I had offended him with those casual words… and he sulked for three days… not talking to me at all. I had forgotten all about the reason and was wondering why Appa was so distant with me and finally decided to catch the bull by the horn. He told me he was hurt by my words. What words? I didn’t even remember … He told me, ‘How can you say you would have married someone else?’ Then it clicked and I burst out laughing! ‘Appa! You asked me a hypothetical question and I answered hypothetically… I don’t think I meant to hurt you!’ ‘ You are our daughter now…. I don’t even want you ever having thoughts like that!’ That is Appa for you… Very possessive of all his near and dear ones… even the new DIL!
We have grown to be comfortable with each other…in fact, I dare to take liberties that very few DILs  take with their FILs. We rag each other. We rag others together… There is a very private joke between us. If he interferes in unnecessary matters, I just tell him, ‘Appa, you are parking the scooter…!’ and he starts smiling and stops himself from interfering. The story behind this joke is a bit personal…only Appa and I know this …so it is taboo for the curious readers…
I remember Appa telling me once, ‘When you married my son, we thought we’d get a bahu who would cover her head and stand up in respect each time she sees us… someone who will get up early in the morning and clean the threshold of our house with ‘shaanaathanni’ ( dung water)  and put kolam (rangoli) and come and wake us with a steaming cups of coffee..’ And I said, ‘Appa…come on…let us look for such a girl for your son..!’ And he’d laughed … I think all his three daughters in law are so untraditional… that he may have been disappointed…
We fight once in a while… perhaps not as much as we laugh together… occasionally I manage to ruffle Appa’s calm feathers and POP! He blows a fuse… Then I know I have overstepped my mark…however justified or right I am… and stay undercover till he is in a calmer state of mind. It is not in me to let it go. So we thrash out the matter again, in a more calm and grown up manner and he never baulks at saying he was in the wrong…and … all’s well with us again. Such tiffs have never lessened our love and affection for each other.
Appa encouraged me to write. I am ever so grateful to him for that. Since childhood I had had this thirst for writing inside me…but it really took Appa’s encouragement to bring it out. I remember him going through my first story in the Woman’s Era and his subsequent comments encouraging me to write more and more… He used to read all my drafts and rate them before posting them to the magazine. Once I started blogging, I have a regular reader and great PRO in him. He has printed out all my blogs and flaunts them in front of all relatives who visit Bhdarvathi, often forcing them to read it…. No wonder relatives think twice before coming all the way to BDVT, now a days…! He was so happy when I told him about the acceptance of my writings by the Chicken Soup folks…
What made Appa ( and Amma) all the more close to my heart is the unconditional love they shower on my twins. I love it when my kids are loved…and Appa and Amma are so generous in their love for all their grandchildren, it warms the cockles of my heart. My twins have great bonding with them both…especially with Appa, who is their guide, mentor and above everything else ‘jigri dost’! They don’t pamper my kids…they haven’t… regular doses of discipline has always been there… but there is that permanent blanket of love that covers them and keeps them warm…
Mangala and I realized just how close had gotten to Appa, the day we got the news of his hospitalization 2 years back. He was in ICU and we just couldn’t stop crying here. For a week we spent calling each other and crying our hearts out for him….praying like we have never prayed before to God to spare his life. Thank God for hearing our prayers…
I feel nervous and terrified only for one thing… If I have to cook for Appa. He is such a perfectionist in his eating habits that I feel inadequate when I cook South Indian dishes for him. I have this feeling that he doesn’t relish my way of cooking…may be that is why Amma doesn’t let me cook lunches… But he loves my rotis and subjis and I love preparing the night’s fare when I am in Bhadravathi…
Appa is a voracious reader. I love supplying him with books. Sometime he doesn’t like my choice of books and we debate on that issue. Another pastime with us is the exchanging of  proverbs. Appa has a humongous collection of Kannada and English proverbs and he loves to spout them at the right time. And I am expected to give him equivalent ones in Malayalam or Tamil… It is an ongoing game with us.
Appa is fiercely possessive of his family… Be it his brother, sisters, sons, daughters in law or grandchildren, he hates when anyone says anything against them. He would then snarl and charge at the offender… it is this possessiveness that makes him do so many things for his people… things that we perhaps take for granted… and never acknowledge…
So this is my attempt at repaying in a minuscule way, the Herculean efforts Appa  puts up in protecting our interests…praying constantly for our well being and safety… guiding us when we err… comforting us when we hurt… holding us all together under the huge umbrella of his love and care…
We all love you Appa… And we feel safe in your presence. We pray to God to protect you and shower you with good health so that He can delegate that work to you…and you shall continue protecting us and showering us with your love …
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, APPA… You are so close to my heart!

bilingual / / 6 yrs ago

i hope i did not say something inappropriate here that was not my intention.....

Eloqueen / / 6 yrs ago

dear verbose
i jus loved your tribute. god bless your family and keep you happy always

bilingual / / 6 yrs ago

dearest viju..... :-) it has been way too long since i have been here, i have had kind of a tough few days.....lol and i needed a boost so i thought viju!!!... my energy has returned thanks to you.......

appa happy birthday !!~~~~~!!!.  appa sounds gr8 and i have read you enought to know that you are gr8 viju... yet you are a handful, a delightful  one but still a handful.....hehehe. you know it and so does appa and anyone else who rubs shoulders with you. perhaps it is the teacher in you that likes to challenge. i think what is nice is that you do challenge people, it is in a fun way but i can just imagine the gossip your actions provided for the neighborhood ladies. 

over time your charm and wit win everyone over but sometimes the initial shock may rock them back.... including appa. now for the q.... 

       relationships are built with time and experiences, rarely are they just full blown to begin with. a father inlaw i think needs to make sure that a daughter inlaw has the character and fortitude to last and grow just as with any great friend. no one starts out being grest friends, that is something that is earned over time. often we love someone but may not like them, love is unconditional and like is by choice. outside of romantic love for me those i love i love forever, even if it falls apart. for me love is simply wishing the best for that person forever no matter what happens. romantic love for me is much the same for me personally however, this is not the case for most people. 

appa and you from my cheap seats like, respect and love one another.. but at the end of the day like is the most important of these emotions, followed by respect and lastly love. as much as you joke, i bet appa may even like you more than his son... and while like in my book has degrees, love does not. 

both of you are lucky and blessed to have each other... for me i am proud to have you as my friend.... you see viju you are the best kind of daughter... one with brains, devotion, committment and despite all of this you are fun.  hugs and i bend to touch appa's feet... ( i think that is what i am suppose to do... lol) ... ahhh these americans.... pfft

tanushri podder / / 6 yrs ago
tanushri podder

nice story!

charuavi / / 6 yrs ago

dear viju,

this was a real heartfelt tribute to yout fil, or rather, your appa. really liked it.

how is life? when are you planning to visit india?


scribblingpad / / 6 yrs ago

through ur blog, i can see what a lovable person u urself are,dear friend. such a lovable post!

SunSutra / / 7 yrs ago

phew that was some brown noser prose..  now world over “spring cleaning” is supposed to be a big deal. there is a mythology about opening the windows and airing out the house as the weather warm and getting rid of all the old and stale stuff. i hope this was one of that..

 if he is reading he wud double the hits and treble the photocopy to distribute ms verbose verbal diarrhea…  i don’t think that  blah blah blah prose will sit well with her mother in law who will turn into a outlaw..  as for her hubby if he is still in iraq, good for the man..

Nargis Natarajan / / 7 yrs ago
Nargis Natarajan

hi viju.....you have so nice shown us the gradual transformation of a fil to a father. although this can really happen somehow people mentally block themselves into thinking so with the excuse that all inlaws can never come close to blood relations....but even i had a wonderful mil and still have a wonderful fil....usually the comfort level between two peole reflects the healthy or unhealthy relationship. good one, really! although its too late to wish him a happy birthday, here's wishing him (and you of course) a happy new year! 

s uma / / 7 yrs ago
s uma

hi verboseviju
     liked reading your article.  nice tribute to a father in law on his birthday.  more than anything i like the way he encourages you to write..that is simply fantastic  - s.uma

roba / / 7 yrs ago

dear viju,

what a wonderful family for a wonderful person !!!

kahin nazar na lage !

how can you not be the best when there's so much love around....
and gal, now what is this deal with chicken soup folks??? lemme know, wud love to read your contribution

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