1. Her “I-am-so-young” complex. I hate how she blatantly lies about her age. She should be more careful with her math when she proudly claims to be 43 years old, with a 26-year-old son.
2. The contradictions in her personality. She constantly claims that she is ‘modest’ and ‘humble’, but still goes to weddings sporting enough bling to put Missy Elliot to shame.
3. Delusions of being the best mother-in-law in the world. She endlessly recounts anecdotes of satanic mothers-in-law just so that I am utterly grateful that mine has not drenched me in kerosene and burnt me alive or spiked my milk with rat poison.
4. Unsolicited advice. When will she learn to mind her own business and quit telling me to “stop family planning”? How long do I have to wait for the day when mummy jaan does not (un)enlighten me with ways to keep her son happy?
5. Faking respect. Gone are the days when I could imperiously patronise my mother for mispronouncing words or wearing an atrocious dress. With my new “mom”, I am supposed to be on my best behaviour — that includes biting my tongue every time she epitomises a sartorial catastrophe or invites me to eat “lowbuster”.
6. Boot camp on Eid. What pleasure does she draw from forcing me to wake up at 7 am, dress up in gaudy wedding wear and entertain dozens of nosy relatives the whole long day? Thanks to her, Eid is now a hellish experience.
7. The tendency to exaggerate. She’ll brag about “exercising for hours” every day when all she actually does is tittle-tattle with gossipy middle-aged aunties at the gym, while walking in slow motion on the treadmill. No wonder mummy jaan stays flabby despite her “physically rigorous routine”.
8. The constant comparisons with her own daughter. Every now and then, she smugly tells me how her daughter prepares seven-course meals for her in-laws and gives her sasu maa expensive gifts. While most of her not-so subtle insinuations fall on deaf ears, they do end up making me cringe with irritation.
9. The attempts to trap me with her smooth talk. She coaxes me to take charge of the household because she believes I have “strong leadership skills”. But “taking charge” is actually a euphemism for household drudgery and my “strong leadership skills” are simply intended to cut down expenses for domestic help.
10. Kitty parties. Being married automatically makes me a member of a universal married aunties’ club. Mummy jaan makes sure I attend every dreadful kitty party and contribute to the heated discussions on manicures and clothing.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, November 24th, 2011.